Indian Army Staff Chief General Manoj Mukund Naravane calls on President Gotabaya Rajapaksa while Defence Staff Chief and Sri Lanka Army Commander General Shavendra Silva looks on.

The cooperation between India and Sri Lanka dates back to the post-Independence era and the alumni of the National Defence College, India Admiral D.B. Gunasekara who joined the prestigious institution in 1972, the year Sri Lanka became a republic is symbolic of the close bonds of camaraderie and friendship the two nations have shared over the years.

“Tamsoma Jyotirgamaya” - the mantra from Upanashid means “From darkness lead me to the light of knowledge and greater education.” Nearly 1,200 personnel from the Sri Lanka Armed Forces graduate each year from various defence training institutions in India, such as Public Security Minister Rear Admiral (Retd) Sarath Weerasekera, Defence Secretary General (Retd) Kamal Gunaratne, Foreign Ministry Secretary Admiral (Retd) Jayanath Colombage, Defence Staff Chief and Army Commander General Shavendra Silva and all Service Chiefs are alumni of prestigious Indian defence training establishments.

Colombo Security Conclave (CSC)

India, the Maldives and Sri Lanka maintain cooperation in a trilateral construct on maritime security in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR). The 4th NSA level tri-lateral was held on November 27 and 28, 2020, in Colombo. Thereafter, the forum was renamed as ‘Colombo Security Conclave’ (CSC) and the Secretariat was inaugurated on March 1, 2021 by Defence Secretary Gen. (Retd) Kamal Gunaratne at the Sri Lanka Navy Headquarters, Colombo. The CSC has great potential to invigorate collaborative efforts towards common security challenges in the region.

70th SLAF Anniversary

The Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF) celebrated its 70th anniversary on March 2, 2021 and the presentation of President’s Colours to No. 5 Fighter Squadron and No. 6 Helicopter Squadron of the Sri Lanka Air Force was held. To commemorate this historical event, a fly-past and an aerobatic display were organised for the first time in Sri Lanka on a grand scale at Galle Face from March 3 to 5, 2021.

As a gesture of solidarity, and in keeping with years of close interaction and camaraderie between the two countries and their militaries, the Indian Air Force (IAF) and the Indian Navy participated in the event with an aerobatic display by Sarang (Advanced Light Helicopter), Surya Kiran (Hawks), Tejas Fighter Aircraft, Tejas Trainer and the Dornier Maritime Patrol Aircraft. A total of 23 aircraft of the Indian Air Force and the Indian Navy participated in the event.

Mitra Shakti

A 120-strong Indian Army contingent participated in the eighth edition of India–Sri Lanka joint military exercise Mitra Shakti from October 3 to 16, 2021 at the Combat Training School, Ampara. The exercise was aimed at enhancing the interoperability and operational efficiency between the armies of both countries. The last edition of the exercise was held in Pune, India in December 2019 focusing on counter-terrorism operations under the United Nations mandate. The participants engaged in activities ranging from command post exercise, joint planning, small team operations, joint tactical drills, lectures, demonstrations, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations, etc.

Oxygen Transfer By INS Shakti

As Sri Lanka was battling the fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic due to insufficient Oxygen supply, to provide succour in the situation, INS Shakti, a 20,000-tonne tanker of the Indian Navy supplied 100 tonnes of medical-grade Oxygen on August 22, 2021 as part of Mission Sagar. Additionally, LMO in excess of 1,000 tons was supplied to Sri Lanka from India.

Survey off Colombo Port By INS Sarvekshak

INS Sarvekshak, a survey ship of the Indian Navy was deployed to Sri Lanka from June 25 to July 2, 2021 for undertaking a hydrographic survey off Colombo and around the ill-fated MV X-Press Pearl. The joint survey operation was coordinated by the Indian Navy and the National Aquatic Resources Research and Development Agency (NARA). Fisheries Minister Douglas Devananda participated in the felicitation ceremony along with Indian High Commissioner Gopal Baglay.

Gifting Spares For Suraksha And Sagara

Continuing India’s defence cooperation towards the maritime security and capacity building of Sri Lanka, the Indian Government gifted Sri Lanka, 650 machinery parts worth 120 million LKR to augment the maintenance capability of the Sri Lanka Coast Guard (SLCG) ship Suraksha that was presented by the Indian Government in October 2017. The machinery parts of the final consignment were formally presented to Director General, SLCG, Rear Admiral Gewman Ekanayake by Deputy High Commissioner of India Vinod Jacob at a function organised on June 29, 2021 at SLCG Base Waruna. The spares included main machinery spares, shaft, gearbox etc.

Deployment of ICG Assets - MV X-Press Pearl Fire Incident

During the fire incident onboard MV X-Press Pearl upon the request of the Sri Lankan Government for assistance, Indian assets were deployed within hours after receiving the request on May 25, 2021. Firstly, ICG ships Vajra, and Vaibhav and one CG Dornier conjoined the joint operation. Samudra Prahari – a specialised pollution response vessel joined the operation on May 29, 2021 to augment pollution control efforts. The deployment was named ‘Operation Sagar Aaraksha II’.

Visit of Army Staff Chief

Indian Army Staff Chief General Manoj Mukund Naravane visited Sri Lanka from October 12 to 16, 2021 on the invitation of Defence Staff Chief and Sri Lanka Army Commander General Shavendra Silva. During his official visit, General Naravane called on President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, Defence Secretary, Foreign Secretary and Service Commanders. He also witnessed Exercise Mitra Shakti, one of the largest bilateral military exercises in the region. The General Officer also participated in Gajaba Day celebrations as the chief guest.

Visit of the Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief Southern Naval Command

Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief Southern Naval Command Vice Admiral Anil Kumar Chawla visited Sri Lanka from October 24 to 28, 2021. During the visit, Vice Admiral Chawla called on the Foreign Secretary, Service Commanders of the SLN and SLAF, COMEAST and COMSOUTH of the Sri Lanka Navy. The Admiral also called on the NDC Commandant, Sri Lanka.

Deployment of 1st Training Squadron (1 TS) of Indian Navy

Ships belonging to 1 TS arrived in Sri Lanka on a goodwill visit. On October 24, 2021, INS Shardul and Magar arrived in Colombo, while INS Sujata, INS Sudarshini, INS Tarangini and ICGS Vikram arrived in Trincomalee. The ships departed on October 27 and 28, 2021 respectively. During the visit, various training activities were coordinated for the Sri Lanka Navy personnel onboard IN ships. The Indian Navy personnel were also imparted training at SLN facilities.

IAF C-17 For The Assistance of Farmers

The deployment of the IAF C-17 to deliver 100 tonnes of Nano Nitrogen fertilizer was essential to support the Sri Lankan Government’s initiative towards organic farming and to expedite its availability to local farmers. The close coordination between the Indian Air Force and the Sri Lanka Air Force led to quick deployment and expeditious deployment which is also indicative of India’s “Neighbourhood First” Policy.

Launch of NDC Alumni Association

In the effort towards formalising the connection with the Sri Lankan Alumni of prestigious National Defence College, India, the NDC India Alumni Association was formally inaugurated on October 21, 2021 jointly by Indian High Commissioner in Sri Lanka Shri Gopal Baglay and Public Security Minister Rear Admiral (Retd) Sarath Weerasekera in the presence of all three Service Chiefs.

Ship Visits On Goodwill Basis

Goodwill visits by naval ships are one of the best ways to maintain connections among the countries’ naval forces and an effective diplomacy tool within the nations as well. In spite of extreme COVID-19 restrictions, a total of 12 Indian Naval and Coast Guard ships visited Sri Lanka in the last year not only on goodwill visits but also to assist in HADR missions.

These constitute the most number of visits by naval ships of any country to Sri Lanka.

Training of Sri Lanka Fighter Pilots And First Batch of women Officers

The Indian Air Force has been actively training the Sri Lanka Air Force officers by offering numerous courses which include basic and advanced fighter pilots, fighter controllers and qualified flying instructor courses which directly enhance the operational readiness of the Sri Lanka Air Force. Presently, eight pilots of the SLAF are undergoing MiG 21 training in India. It is a matter of great pride for the Indian Air Force to train the first batch of four women pilot officers of the SLAF from July 2018 to June 2019.

Gifting of Training Aids To Sri Lanka Army

In line with the Indian Government’s commitment towards capacity building and capability enhancement of Sri Lankan Armed Forces, Army Staff Chief, Indian Army during his visit to Sri Lanka gifted universal driving simulators, infantry weapon training simulators, 600 books and 100 Kindles to the SL Army Commander for the utilisation in various training institutes of the Sri Lanka Army. The gifted simulators will go a long way to assist the SL Army in ensuring technology-driven improvement in training.

Launch of Naval Alumni Association

The Indian Government offers approximately 400–500 training vacancies to the SL Navy personnel annually. Thus, there is a large number of Indian Alumni within the Sri Lanka Navy. In order to develop deeper bonds, the Naval Alumni Association was jointly inaugurated on October 25, 2021 by Vice Admiral Anil Kumar Chawla, Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief Southern Naval Command, Indian Navy and Sri Lanka Navy Commander Vice Admiral Ulugetenne.

Gifting of An Upgrade Kit For L-70 Gun To SLAF By COAS

The Indian Army gifted 24xL-70 Anti Aircraft guns to the Sri Lanka Air Force in order to assist them in their three-decade-long civil war. Considering the vintage of these guns, the Indian Government agreed to overhaul all these guns on the gratis basis to increase their life span. Taking a step further, the Army Staff Chief, Indian Army during his visit to Sri Lanka gifted one upgrade kit for L-70 gun to the Sri Lanka Air Force Commander which would ensure full automation of the gun and in turn will enhance the capability of the Sri Lanka Air Force.