- The volunteer force grew out of civilian rifle club broad-based for infantry soldiering
- Olympic medalists Duncan White and Susanthika Jayasinghe are proud members of SLAVF
The historic Sri Lanka Army Volunteer Force which was established on 01st April 1881 proudly celebrates its 138th Anniversary on 01st April 2019.
The Sri Lanka Army Volunteer Force (SLAVF) is the second largest organization in the Sri Lanka Army and it presently consists of 82 battalions deployed islandwide with approximately 59,000 members. The SLAVF having realized the contemporary requirements of the country is playing a dynamic role in the Army for the Nation amidst challenges.
The volunteer movement which grew out of a civilian rifle club was broad-based for infantry soldiering by a proclamation in the government gazette of April 1, 1881 authorizing the formation of “Ceylon Light Infantry Volunteers” (CLIV). Lieutenant Colonel John Scott Armitage was appointed the first Commanding Officer of the CLIV which was under the Governor of Ceylon responsible to Queen Victoria.
"The SLAVF celebrates 138th Anniversary at headquarters premises on 01st April 2019 with pride. The anniversary programme included a series of events of military, social and religious significance while commemorating the War Heroes"
The history of the origins of the volunteer movement goes back to1860 according to the available information.
After Ceylon was under the colonial powers upon signing the Kandyan Convention, various battalions of the British Army had been employed in defence activities in Ceylon.
A discussion had been held on 11 April 1961 chaired by Assistant Agent Board at Assistant Agent’s Office Matale to establish the Volunteer Rifle Regiment.
The approval had been granted by the Queen. Accordingly, the proclamation to raise a volunteer force was issued in Gazette Number 3326 on July 5, 1862.
However, a volunteer battalion under the name of Rifle Battalion had not been established in 1962 based on various reasons and conditions in the said Gazette.
The volunteer movement was then encouraged by the raising of several companies under the aegis of CLIV in the main towns and districts of Ceylon and there was also the formation of companies on a professional basis.
Meanwhile, a Company of Mounted Infantry was enrolled on 12th July 1892 at Kandy.
This emerged later as the Ceylon Mounted Rifles. A Corps of Artillery Volunteers was raised in 1888 with additional companies of Artillery Volunteers in Trincomalee and Galle.
A valuable adjunct was the formation of a Cadet Battalion to encourage the military movement in schools which developed later into the Ceylon Cadet Battalion and finally as the National Cadet Corps.
Members of the Sri Lanka Army Volunteer Force have immensely contributed to the war against terrorism in the past 30 years.
One of the pioneers of the contributors is Captain Saliya Aladeniya who is the first recipient of Parama Weera Vibhushanaya (PWV).
In safeguarding the country, a large number of soldiers sacrificed their lives while thousands of soldiers sustained injuries. Further, the members of the organization have been continually excelling in their skills in sports.
"With the proclamation of the Republic of Sri Lanka on May 22, 1972, the nomenclature of the Ceylon Volunteer Force was accordingly changed to the Sri Lanka Army Volunteer Force"
Olympic medallists Duncan White and Susanthika Jayasinghe are also proud members of the SLAVF.
With the proclamation of the Republic of Sri Lanka on May 22, 1972, the nomenclature of the Ceylon Volunteer Force was accordingly changed to the Sri Lanka Army Volunteer Force.
If the success of an organization is measured in terms of its contribution to the society, then the volunteer military organization in Sri Lanka reaches veritable heights with the contributions made by many of its members in the leadership of the nation.
It is worthy of mentioning that Sri Lanka’s first Prime Minister, D.S. Senanayake PC was in the Volunteer Artillery as an active member for many years. Notable personalities from the proud Volunteer Force include General Sir John Kotelawala PC CH KBE LLD who is remembered as a Prime Minister of Sri Lanka E.A. Nugawela ED who was the Minister for Education in the first cabinet of independent Sri Lanka, C.A. Dharmapala OBE ED, who was a Member of Parliament, Montague Jayawickrama, the Minister of Parliamentary Affairs and Plantations, C.P.J. Seneviratne a Labour Minister, Deshamanya Nissanka Wijerathne who was a Diyawadana Nilame of the Sacred Tooth Relic in Kandy, General Ranjan Wijerathne who was a Deputy Minister of Defence, General Anurudhdha Rathwatte and Karu Jayasuriya the incumbent Speaker in the Sri Lanka Parliament.
The explosion which took place at the Salawa Army Camp a few years ago caused extensive damage to the Headquarters of the Sri Lanka Army Volunteer Force.
However, the pride of the Volunteer Force in the face of physical damage never faded away. The new headquarters complex is being built in a new block of land in Salawa area under the directions of Commandant of the SLAVF Major General Rukmal Dias. It has been designed with the latest facilities in an environmentally friendly manner. The great strength behind the success in this endeavour has been the supervision of Deputy Commandant of the SLAVF Major General L. F. Kasthuriarachchi along with the collective effort of all ranks of the Volunteer Force. At this important milestone, the Sri Lanka Army Volunteer Force gratefully remembers the guidance and the leadership which had been profusely extended by past Commandants and Deputy Commandants during the past 138 years.
It is a fact that the Sri Lanka Army Volunteer Force has been open for personnel of diverse disciplines. It is praiseworthy to mention the unparalleled contribution of such members of the Volunteer Force in the spheres of the military and sports.
"The Sri Lanka Army Volunteer Force gratefully remembers the guidance and the leadership which had been profusely extended by past Commandants and Deputy Commandants during the past 138 years"
Their prowess has been displayed while making their contribution to economic and social developments of the country.
Further, the provisions under General Reserve of the Sri Lanka Army Volunteer Force have been available for the civilian professionals to contribute their valuable services to the Sri Lanka Army and to the development of the country.
The Volunteer Force has been providing a range of welfare programmes for the serving members and educational incentives for the children of its members at their educational achievements. Awarding of such financial grants in the year 2018 amounts to Rs.14 mn.
The Sri Lanka Army Volunteer Force during the past has contributed immensely in the protection of territorial integrity of the country while assisting to promote the everyday lives of people.
The contribution of the members of the Volunteer Force in the war against terrorism, maintenance of essential services of the country and during natural disasters has been very valuable. Such involvement and allegiance of the volunteers have been written in golden letters in the annals of the SLAVF during the past 138 years.
The SLAVF as a disciplined force with skilled, committed and loyal members has been a strength to the Army and it anticipates to extend its further contribution to the Nation.
-Media Unit - SLAVF