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Major General SAPP Samarasinghe RSP USP psc has been appointed as the Commandant of the Sri Lanka Army Volunteer Force. Maj Gen Prasad Samarasinghe was the Chief of Staff of the Office of the Chief of Defence Staff before becoming the Commandant of the SLAVF.
The post of Commandant of the SLVF is considered the third most senior post in the hierarchical structure of the Sri Lanka Army.
The origin of the volunteer movement can be traced back to 1861. The Volunteer movement grew out of a civilian riffle club and was broad – based for infantry soldering by a proclamation issued by the Lieutenant Governor (Sir John Douglas KCMG) in the Govt Gazette of 01 Apr 1881 authorizing the formation of “The Ceylon Light Infantry Volunteers.
Maj Gen Samarasinghe joint Sri Lanka Army as an Officer Cadet in 1980. After receiving commission as a 2/ Lieutenant he was posted to the Sri Lanka Army Signals Corp. A product of Ananda College, Colombo he was a good sportsman and also excelled in academic activities as well. During the tenure in the Army he had completed the Master of Science in Management degree at the Sir John Kotelawala Defence University and did the staff course at the Command and Staff College, Bangaladesh.
In his long and illustrious military career that spans over 33 years Maj Gen Samarasinghe has held a number of operational and staff appointments. The one time military spokesman had actively involved in major operations during the humanitarian operations. With his in-depth understanding of media manipulations of local and foreign terrorist networks and affable manner in dealing with all media personnel he was able to effectively play a multi faceted role during his tenure as the military spokesman.
He had also served as the Defence Advisor (Minister Counselor) at the Sri Lankan High Commission in the UK. At present he is the Director General of the Centre for Research and Development under the Ministry of Defence and Urban Development and Regimental Commander of the Military Intelligence Corps (MIC) of the Sri Lanka Army.
With the proclamation of the Republic of Sri Lanka on 22nd May 1972 the nomenclature of the Ceylon Volunteer Force changed to the Sri Lanka Army Volunteer Force. Over the years the force grew from strength to strength to become an important arm of the SLA.From a humble beginning with strength of little more than a thousand men in 1896 the SLAVF was later developed into a fighting force with seven units in 1910 and subsequently into 55 battalions in 1998. At present there are 103 battalions and a training school. It’s vital contribution during the humanitarian operation had been widely recognized and appreciated by all. More than 2500 of its valiant souls paid the supreme sacrifice to safeguard the nation from the throes terrorism. One of its men was the first recipient of Sri Lanka army’s highest gallantry award – The Parama Weera Vibushanaya.
It is worthy of mentioning that Sri Lanka's first Prime Minister, the Rt. Hon. DS Senanayake PC and Prime Minister Sir John Kotelawala CH PC KBE LLD were illustrious members of the Volunteer Force.