General Sarath Fonseka, the Chief of Defence Staff of Sri Lanka, is the first 4 star general of modern day Sri Lankan war history. Being the pioneer soldier of the Sri Lankan forces that crushed the LTTE during the Eelam War IV he has over 3 decades of experience in the art of warfare and has survived two deadly attacks. This coveted war hero was described as the greatest Army commander in the world by India’s National Security Advisor M.K. Narayanan.
His Excellency the President
Through the Secretary, Ministry of Defence,
Public Security, Law and Order
COLOMBO 12th November 2009
REQUEST TO RETIRE FROM THE REGULAR FORCE OF THE SRI LANKA ARMY
1. I, General G S C Fonseka RWP RSP VSV USP rcds psc presently serving as the Chief of Defence Staff, was enlisted to the Ceylon Army on 05th Feb 1970 and was commissioned on the 01st June 1971. On the 6th Dec 2005 due to the trust and confidence placed on me, Your Excellency was kind enough to promote me to the rank of Lieutenant General and appoint me as the Commander of the Sri Lanka Army in an era when the Country was embroiled with the menace of terrorism and was in a stalemate state after having toiled for a solution politically or otherwise for over 25 years without a success.
2. During my command of 3 years and 7 months, the Sri Lanka Army managed to eradicate the terrorist movement having apprehended an unbelievable stock of arms and munitions and decisively defeating the LTTE and its murderous leadership which Your Excellency is obviously aware of. I would not be exaggerating to state that I was instrumental in leading the Army to this historic victory, of course with Your Excellency’s political support, which helped to materialize this heroic action. Though the field commanders, men and all members of the Army worked towards this common goal, it is with my vision, command and leadership that this yeomen task was achieved. I was determined to achieve this victory as I wanted to ensure that there is permanent peace and security for the future generation of the motherland.
3. I do appreciate the fact that the Country and Your Excellency did recognize my services which led to me being promoted to the first ever serving four star general to command the Army, nevertheless the courses of action which initiated subsequently greatly depressed me which I have enumerated in the Annex hereto.
4. Considering the facts mentioned in the Annex and more which I am privy to withhold, I am compelled to believe that Your Excellency and the Government has lost your trust and faith bestowed upon me for reasons only known to Your Excellency. Hence as the senior most serving military officer in the Country with 40 years of service, such a situation does not warrant a continuation of my duties any longer, thereby I have the honour to request that I be permitted to retire from the Regular Force of the Army with effect from 01st December 2009.
5. Furthermore I have the honour to request that on retirement Your Excellency would be kind enough to grant me sufficient security which includes trained combat soldiers, a suitable vehicle with sufficient protection (Bullet proof), escort vehicles and dummy vehicles for my conveyances due to the fact that I am considered as one of the highest priority targets by the LTTE, which they are yet capable of achieving. Also, I wish to bring to Your Excellency’s kind notice that over 100 men, six escort vehicles and a bullet proof vehicle have been placed at the convenience of the former Commander of the Navy who recently retired. Your Excellency, I do further request that a suitable protected government resident be made available for me to live in. Also it is requested that approval be granted for me to continue occupation of the present official residence of the Commander of the Army – “The General’s House” in Bahudhaloka Mawatha until I am provided with a suitable married quarter. I presume that such arrangements would be made available to me, considering the threat factor I am facing, which Your Excellency is well aware of.
6. I would also wish to quote an example in the case of the former Indian Chief of Army Staff General A S Vadiya, instrumental in leading the Indian Army in Operation Blue Star against the Sheiks at the Golden Temple, Amristar in 1984, was assassinated whilst on retirement in 1986 purely in revenge of his victories achieved. I do not wish to experience a similar incident as I have already sustained serious injuries after the attempt on my life by a suicide cadre of the LTTE, in spite of I being injured twice previously during military operations. Though during the operations I conducted myself in a daring manner disregarding threats to my life, on conclusion of the war I have absolutely no intention to endanger my life. Thereby, I am compelled to entrust you with my security which is requested for life.
7. Furthermore, I would like to emphasis on a statement made by me during my tenure as the Commander of the Army. In that, I mentioned my dislike to be in command forever and also I would ensure that my successor would not be burdened with the task of fighting the same war, which I abided with. Hence, as I have already overstayed my retirement date by 4 years, I wish to proceed on retirement without further delays.
8. Forwarded for Your Excellency’s kind consideration please.
I have the honour to be
G S C FONSEKA RWP RSP VSV USP rcds psc
Chief of Defence Staff
Here is the full text of the 17-point annexure that accompanied Gen. Sarath Fonseka’s letter to President Mahinda Rajapaksa, seeking to retire. It is different from the version seen and agreed to by opposition parties:
ANNEX ‘A’ TO
12h NOVEMBER 2009
FACTORS AFFECTING MY RETIREMENT FROM THE REGULAR FORCE OF THE ARMY
1. Various agencies misleading Your Excellency by stating a possible coup immediately after the victory over the LTTE which obviously led to a change of command in spite of my request to be in command until the Army celebrated its 60th Anniversary. This fear psychosis of a coup is well known among the defence circle.
2. Appointing an officer pending a disciplinary inquiry who performed duties only as a holding formation commander in the final battle as my successor, disregarding my recommendations to appoint Major General G A Chandrasiri as the Commander of the Army who was the then Chief of Staff and an officer with an exemplary service as the Security Forces Commander in Jaffna for over 3 years. This has already led to a deterioration of the high standards I was capable of introducing to the Army, to my bitter disappointment.
3. Appointing me as the Chief of Defence Staff, though a senior appointment to that of a service commander, with basically no authority, except for mere coordinating responsibilities in a manner which mislead the general public of the country and most members of the Armed Forces. In that the Secretary Defence pushing me to vacate the post of the Commander in just two weeks after the victory and Your Excellency insisting me to hand over duties in less than two months depriving me of my moral obligations in revamping the welfare and providing a sound administration to the men who fought a gallant battle. Due to this action you also denied me of my desire to streamline the career planning of Common Stream Officers whom I wanted to ensure that they are given with career prospects of becoming experts/specialist in their fields.
4. Further, prior to my appointment I was misled on the authority vested with the CDS. I was made to understand that the appointment carried more command responsibilities and authority than earlier over all three services, but subsequent to my appointment a letter by the Strategic Affairs Adviser to the Secretary Defence indicated that my appointment was purely to coordinate the services and not that of overall operational command. The letter is attached herewith for Your Excellency’s information. Such actions clearly defines Your Excellency’s and the Governments unwillingness to grant me with command responsibilities which leads to believe in a strong mistrust in me, which is most depressing after all what was performed by me to achieve war victory.
5. During a subsequent Service Commanders Meeting, the Secretary Defence was bold enough to state an unethical and uncalled statement by mentioning that “if operational control of all three services is granted to the CDS it would be very dangerous”, which indeed was a loss of face to me in the presences of subordinate services commanders.
6. Your Excellency, you too made a statement at the very first security council soon after the 18th of May 09 when the battled was declared over, to the extent that “a strong public opinion is in the making to say that the Country is in possession of a too powerful army, which will lead Sri Lanka to another State like that of Myanmar”. It was surprising to hear such a comment from Your Excellency in spite of your repeated praise and boast of the war victory brought about by the same Army. I personally felt that Your Excellency has commenced mistrusting your own loyal Army which attained the unimaginable victory just a week ago. You again repeated the same statement even after I handed over the command. Over these comments I felt disgusted as these comments indirectly insulted those who made the supreme sacrifice during the war victory.
7. The present Army Commander immediately on assuming duties commenced transferring senior officers who immensely contributed to the war effort during my command tenure including those junior officers working with my wife at the Seva Vanitha Army Branch which was involved in looking after the welfare of the troops, was clearly to challenge the loyalty of officers and most discouraging to the officer corps of the Army, with a wrong signal being transmitted on my authority.
8. Your Excellency, I wish to remind you that whilst the Eelam War IV was being fought I repeatedly requested to increase the compensation paid to those Next of Kin of the officers and men killed in action from Rs.150,000.00 which was the amount sanctioned in year 1985, to Rs.500,000.00 as the approved amount is grossly insufficient in the present context. This request was not considered favourably thereby I feel extremely guilty that the Army and the Government at large has not looked into the welfare of those who paid the supreme sacrifice.
9. With a pain of mind it was noted that the same Army which gained victory for the Nation was suspected of staging a coup and thereby alerting the Government of India once again on the 15th of October 2009, unnecessarily placing the Indian Troops on high alert. This action did tarnish the image and reputation gained by the Sri Lanka Army as a competent and professional organization who was capable of defeating a terrorist group after the Malayan Emergency, in the eyes of the World. This suspicion would have been due to the loyalty of the Sri Lanka Army towards me as its past Commander who led the Army to the historic victory.
10. During my absences from the Country (23 Oct 2009 to 5 Nov 2009) being on overseas leave, the Army Headquarters was bold enough to change the security personnel deployed at the AHQ Main Entrance and the Ministry of Defence emphasizing the withdrawal of the Sinha Regiment troops who were attached to me, as you are aware is my parent regiment and supplementing them with other regimental personnel. The Sinha Regiment troops were good enough to provide security to the Ministry of Defence for 4 years and it is surprising to note how the combat efficiency of the said troops supposed to have dropped overnight as per Secretary Defence’s opinion.
Further the Sinha Regiment troops numbering a mere 4, non combatants, deployed for vehicle checking duties at the AHQ Main Entrance, were replaced by 14 armed Armoured Corps personnel, whilst a further two platoons were brought in to prevent the 4 non combat Sinha Regiment personnel performing duties, creating a mockery to the general public. This clearly indicates a questionable loyalty of troops good enough for duties for over four years purely due to the fact that the troops were from my Regiment. This also indirectly reflects mistrust on me or an indication that the persons concern wish to keep a tab on my movements and visitors to my HQ/residence which is a clear display of suspicion created on me.
11. Further on instructions of the Secretary Defence, troops from the Gajaba Regiment was brought in to the MOD complex to remove the Sinha Regiment troops which indicated the creation of divided loyalty within the Army and reasons to believe that the Army now being politicized. This is being encouraged by the Army Commander too who thinks that the Armoured Corp troops should over power Sinha Regiment troops again in the Army HQ complex which includes my office and residence.
12. Instigating malicious and detrimental news items and rumors by interested parties including several senior government politicians which led to identify me as a traitor in spite of my personal contribution of the government to change the history of our country.
13. It is with pain of mind that I note that the ordinary Army which I toiled to transform into a highly professional outfit is now losing its way. Increased desertions, lack of enthusiasm to enlist (A drop in enlistment rate by 50% is recorded), disciplinary problems on advocating divided commands indicates an unprofessional organization in the offing. During the last two months the members deserted are higher than the recruitment.
14. Resettlement process of the IDPs was also a point of concern. The IDPs are resettled in an ad hoc manner without proper infrastructure facilities to the dismay of most inmates. The Government has resorted to this course of action merely refusing to incur an additional expense for the betterment of the IDPs. This is indeed a short term remedy to get rid of the IDP issue. I strongly advocated that the resettlement should commence only after proper demining, providing necessary infrastructure facilities and on confirming of the identity of any infiltrated terrorists, thereby ensuring 100% safety and security to the younger generations among IDPs.
15. The conditions in the IDP centers is also a point of great concern to me. Thousands of valiant soldiers including members of the Navy, Air Force, Police and the Civil Defence Force sacrificed their valuable lives to liberate these unfortunate civilians from the brutality and tyranny of the LTTE in order that they could live in an environment of freedom and democracy. Yet, today many of them are continuing to live in appalling conditions due to the lack of proper planning and the reluctance to incur expenditure on the part of the Government.
16. The troop requirement for the resettlement is grossly insufficient and cannot sustain the demanding needs in the resettled areas, thus placing the innocent people in turmoil. Your Excellency’s government is yet to win the peace in spite of the fact that the Army under my leadership won the war. There is no clear policy to ensure the security of the Tamil people thereby leaving room to ruin the victory attained, paving the way for yet another uprising in the future due to lack of security arrangements in the resettled areas.
17. Sri Lanka Army ensured the safe custody of approximately 10,000 surrendered LTTE cadres. But it is regrettably noted that so far no constructive action has been taken to methodically rehabilitate them in order to ensure that they get back to the society as properly rehabilitated law abiding citizens.