January 25, 2020
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    October 18, 2018

    Sri Lanka Army, recognized globally as a UN troop contributing country (TCC) with its second contingent of 260-strong Combat Convoy Company (CCC) is now set to wing to Mali, a landlocked West African country, marred by ethnic tensions for UN peacekeeping assignments. A brief inaugural ceremony of the ‘FTX - Harmattan - 2’ will take place at Chundikulam, before the Exercise is launched on 18 Oct 2018.

    Prior to their departure and induction in Mali, most probably early in December, Lieutenant General Mahesh Senanayake, Commander of the Army has directed the Director General, General Staff Branch to launch a mock Field Training Exercise (FTX) to this effect, enabling those Mali-bound (CCC) troops to develop mission orientation and competency before they undertake tasks in the United Nations Multi-dimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission (MINUSMA) in Mali.

    The designed FTX covering the North, North-Central provinces and a section of the Eastern province is to be launched accordingly during 18 - 24 October under the command of Brigadier Jayantha Gunaratne as the Exercise Director ‘FTX - Harmattan - 2’ who is also the General Officer Commanding, 55 Division and a former Director Operations at the Army Headquarters.

    The ‘FTX - Harmattan - 2’, comprised of 10 Regiments of the Army is made up of Infantry troops with Armour, Mechanized Infantry, Combat Support and Combat Service Support elements and will exercise their challenges under simulated threat conditions prevailing in Mali. A separate Headquarters (HQ-EXCON) staff will simultaneously monitor the applicability of standard drills against varying scenarios and will recommend improvements for effectiveness of the CCC.

    The ‘FTX - Harmattan - 2’ of 680 km in distance will cover the general areas of Chundikulam, Manalkadu, Pooneryn, Veditalativu, Mannar, Oyamaduwa, Mahadiwulwewa, Panmadawachchiya, Therunamaranwadiya, Mullaittivu, Paranthan and Kuweini Junction at Iyakkachchi.

    The CCC is commanded by Lieutenant Colonel K.L.I Karunanayake with Major P.G.J Suriyasena as his Second in Command. The CCC, bound for Mali includes Army personnel of the Vijayabahu Infantry Regiment (VIR), the majority in the contingent as well as members of the Sri Lanka Armoured Corps (SLAC), Sri Lanka Engineers (SLE), Sri Lanka Signal Corps (SLSC), Mechanized Infantry Regiment (MIR), Corps of Engineer Services (CES), Sri Lanka Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (SLEME), Sri Lanka Army Service Corps (SLASC), Sri Lanka Army Ordnance Corps (SLAOC), together with members of the Sri Lanka Army Medical Corps (SLAMC), ready with a Level One hospital for Mali. 20 Officers and 240 Other Rankers will undertake those responsibilities in Mali as the replacement for the first CCC of the Sri Lanka Army who are scheduled to return upon completion of their one-year long tenure in Mali in December, this year.

    A total of 19,000 members of the Sri Lanka Army have to-date served in UN peacekeeping missions either as Combat Troops, Military Observers (156), Staff Officers or as Assistants to Staff Officers in several parts of the world. As of today 150 Army members in Lebanon are serving the UN Interim Force (UNIFIL), 66 members in the UN mission in Sudan with Level 2 hospital in South Sudan (UNMISS), 65 all ranks in MINUSMA (Mali), 26 Army Officers in UN Staff Officer Missions and a group of 18 Officers including 2 lady Officers in the Western Sahara, Congo, South Sudan, Central African Republic, Abyei and New York.

    During their overseas duties, 3 Sri Lankan Peacekeepers during 2005 and 2007 laid down their lives and were posthumously honoured with the prestigious UN Dag Hammarskjold Medal.

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