Lanka gets first Chief of Defence Staff

COLOMBO: Sri Lanka today named its first ever chief of defence staff and created the post of national security adviser to the president as part of an overhaul of the military.

President Mahinda Rajapakse’s office said army chief General Sarath Fonseka would take over as Chief of Defence Staff from Wednesday with powers over all armed forces and responsibility for overall military strategy and planning.

Wasantha Karannagoda becomes the new National Security Adviser to the president and will be replaced as navy chief by his deputy, Vice Admiral Tissara Samarasinghe.

“The appointments will take effect from Wednesday,” a senior military official said.

“This is part of revamping the command structure to meet the needs of a post-conflict situation.”

The army will be led by Major General Jagath Jayasuriya, a senior field commander.

All four men who are being promoted from next week have been credited for their defeat of Tamil Tiger rebels in May.

General Fonseka is widely seen as the architect of the overall military success which saw the elimination of the entire Tamil

Tiger leadership, ending nearly four-decades of fighting with the separatists.