Lt Gen Sarath Fonseka RWP
, rcds, psc
is a Sri Lankan Army officer who has served throughout the Sri Lankan civil war
and been the Commander of the Sri Lanka Army
since December 6
. On April 25
he survived an assassination attempt when LTTE suicide bomber attacked his motorcade.
Early life and family
Lt. General Fonseka, a graduate of Dharmasoka College
, Ambalangoda (1958-1965) and Ananda College
, Colombo (1966-1969), is a sportsman who has participated in swimming and water polo, representing defense services and the country. Lieutenant General Fonseka is married to Mrs. Anoma Fonseka and has two daughters, Apsara and Aparna. He won the Green Card lottery, to become a current US Green Card holder.
Military career in the Srilankan Army
He has held a large number of various staff appointments including the office of Chief of Staff
of the Sri Lankan army, the post he relinquished to take reins as Commander of the Army.
His contribution as Deputy General Officer Commanding consisting of conducting operation, 'Riviresa' to capture Jaffna from the Tamil Tigers in December 1995 In the same type, troops commanded by Lt. Gen Fonseka as the offered stiff resistance to Tamil Tigers in 2000 following the fall of Elephant Pass ultimately having to flee the place not able to withstand the attack on him.
Lt. General Fonseka, was also in operations, 'Balawegaya' and 'Jayasikuru,' that led to the capture of the Elephant Pass and capture Mankulam. It was none other than the 6th Battalion of his Sri Lanka Sinha Regiment that was under siege at Elephant Pass in 1991 and reinforcements that repulsed the LTTE attack. However, The Elephant Pass campaign is notable for its heavy losses to the LTTE. He was wounded in 1993 in the Yaldewee operation.
As a Colonel, Fonseka commanded the 23 Brigade of sri lankan army Polonnaruwa in 1993. Among other appointments, he held included Colonel, General Staff Army Headquarters, sri lankan army; Centre Commandant, Sri Lanka Sinha Regiment; a Brigade Commander in Operation Ballavegaya; Deputy Commandant - 5 Brigade Group, Mannar and Coordinating Officer for Gampaha gum gumaga. He has spoken out expressing the sentiments of the majority Sinhala people in Sri Lanka stating that he strongly believed Sri Lanka belonged to the Sinhalese but there were minority communities who were being treated equally like own people. However being the majority of the country, 75%, Sinhala people would never give in and they had the right to protect that country. Furthermore he had said that Sri Lankans were a strong nation. Minorities could live in that country with Sinhalese. But minorities must not try to, under the pretext of being a minority, demand undue things. General Fonseka is one of the most loved and respected Commanders of the Sri Lanka Army of the recent times who is capable of communicating effectively with everyone at all levels from soldier to President, and with world wide leaders, in political, social and spiritual domains.
In 1993, as the Jaffna
Fort was under siege for a long period, the then Colonel
G.S.C. Fonseka led troops in the "Midnight Express
" (not a train name) operation to rescue the besieged troops. Incidentally, the incumbent Secretary of Defence Lieutenant Colonel Gotabhaya Rajapaksa
was with him. Several hundred soldiers were saved in this fleeing operation.
Suicide bomb attack
On 25 April
, Lt. General Fonseka survived an LTTE suicide bomb attack in which he was seriously injured and nine others were killed. The bomber had infiltrated the heavily-secured sri lankan army headquarters in Colombo and attacked the general's limousine when he was on his way to the officer's mess
. The general was rushed first to the military hospital
at the headquarters and then transferred to the Colombo General Hospital and later flown to Singapore
for treatment, and resumed his duties in July.
His awards and decorations include the Gallantry Medals; Rana Wickrama Padakkama
(RWP), Rana Sura Padakkama
(RSP), distinguished service medals; Vishista Seva Vibhushanaya
(VSV), Uttama Seva Padakkama
(USP) and other notable medal campaign medals; Riviresa Campaign Services Medal
, Poorna Bhoomi Padakkama, North & East Operations Medal, Desha Putra Sammanaya
and several others.