Chief of the Defence Staff (Sri Lanka)

The Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS) is the most senior appointment in the Sri Lankan Armed Forces, and the highest-ranking military officer in service, outranking the heads of each service branch. The CDS does not, however, have operational command authority over service branches, but rather oversees inter-service co-operation and develops and implements the joint operations doctrine of the Sri Lankan armed forces. Coordination of inter-service joint operations are handled by the Office of the Chief of Defence Staff formally known as the Joint Operations Headquarters.

Chief of the Defence Staff
Admiral Ravindra Wijegunaratne

since 22 August 2017
Military of Sri Lanka
Member ofNational Security Council
Reports toPresident of Sri Lanka
Minister of Defence
SeatOffice of the Chief of Defence Staff, Block No. 5, BMICH, Bauddhaloka mawatha, Colombo 7
AppointerThe President
Upon nomination by the National Security Council
Term lengthNot fixed
Constituting instrumentChief of Defence Staff Act, No. 35 of 2009
Formation11 February 1985 (1985-02-11)
as General Officer Commanding, Joint Operations Command
First holderGeneral Tissa Weeratunga (as GOC-JOC)
WebsiteOfficial website

Admiral Ravindra Wijegunaratne currently functions as the Chief of Defence Staff.[1][2]The CDS is the Chairman of a Committee made up of service commanders and is a member of the National Security Council.


The post could be traced back to post of General Officer Commanding (GOC) of the Joint Operations Command when General T. I. Weerathunga was first appointed to it on November 2, 1985. The Joint Operations Command was created in 1985 due to a need to co-ordinate of joint operations among the tri-services and the police with the escalation of the Sri Lankan Civil War. The post itself was created in 1999 replacing the civilian post of chief of the Joint Operations Bureau which had existed briefly in 1999. Its powers expanded under the Chief of Defence Staff Act No. 35 of 2009.

In recent years, the Chief of the Defence Staff was appointed to the highest rank in the branch of the Sri Lankan armed forces to which he belonged (equivalent to a US "four-star" rank) being a General, an Admiral or an Air Chief Marshal. According to the new Bill, the President of Sri Lanka appoints to the post of Chief of Defence Staff any person presently serving as Commander of the Army, Navy or the Air Force, to function under the direction, supervision and control of the Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of Defence.


  • Assist in providing for the strategic direction of the armed forces
  • Development of doctrine for the joint employment of the armed forces
  • Facilitation of preparation of strategic plans for the armed forces
  • Co-ordination of matters relating to intelligence as between the armed forces;
  • To undertake assessments to determine the capabilities of the armed forces in comparison with those of their potential
  • Preparation of operational plans for the armed forces

Supporting and associated posts

The CDS is assisted by a Chief of Staff (two star rank) and four Director Generals (Operations and systems, Training, Naval and Air Operations, Coordination) making up the Office of the Chief of Defence Staff. In addition, the CDS as a personal staff consisting of the Secretary to the CDS, two Aide-de-camps, and Principal Staff Officers.

Subordinate Commands

General Officer Commanding, Joint Operations Command (1985-1999)

Chief of the Defence Staff (1999–present)

No. Picture Chief of DefenceTook officeLeft officeTime in officeDefence branch
Daluwatte, RohanGeneral
Rohan Daluwatte WWV, RWP, RSP, VSV, USP
4 January 19999 October 20034 years, 278 days Sri Lanka Army
Balagalle, LionelGeneral
Lionel Balagalle RWP, RSP, VSV, USP, VSP
10 October 20031 September 20052 years, 63 days Sri Lanka Army
Sandagiri, DayaAdmiral
Daya Sandagiri VSV, USP
(born 1947)
1 September 200512 June 2006274 days Sri Lanka Navy
Perera, DonaldAir Chief Marshal
Donald Perera VSV, USP
(born 1950)
12 June 200615 July 20093 years, 33 days Sri Lanka Air Force
Fonseka, SarathGeneral
Sarath Fonseka RWP, RSP, VSV, USP
(born 1950)
15 July 200916 November 2009124 days Sri Lanka Army
Gunatilleke, RoshanAir Chief Marshal
Roshan Goonetileke RWP & bar, VSV, USP
(born 1956)
16 November 20091 August 20133 years, 197 days Sri Lanka Air Force
Jayasuriya, JagathGeneral
Jagath Jayasuriya VSV, USP
1 August 201315 June 20151 year, 318 days Sri Lanka Army
Gunathilake, KolithaAir Chief Marshal
Kolitha Gunathilake RWP, RSP, VSV, USP
16 June 201528 June 20172 years, 12 days Sri Lanka Air Force
de Silva, CrishanthaGeneral
Crishantha de Silva RWP, USP
29 June 201722 August 201754 days Sri Lanka Army
Wijegunaratne, RavindraAdmiral
Ravindra Wijegunaratne WV, RWP & bar, RSP, VSV, USP, NI(M), ndc, psn
(born 1960)
22 August 2017Incumbent2 years, 103 days Sri Lanka Navy

See also


  1. "Vice Admiral Ravindra Wijegunaratne appointed new Chief of Defence Staff". Daily News Sri Lanka. Daily News Sri Lanka. Retrieved 18 August 2017.
  2. "President appoints new Chief of Defence Staff". Retrieved 27 October 2017.
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