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58 Division

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HISTORY

The separatist terrorist outfit widely known as LTTE that haunted for nearly three decades using both guerrilla and conventional tactics maintained a semi conventional fighting force with land, sea and air power. Thus, the LTTE continuously threatened and subjugated the civilians living in the North and East by way of recruiting young children as combatants, laying mines in civilian areas, engaging in ethnic cleansing campaigns and denying the basic human rights and democratic freedom of the people. However, the government of Sri Lanka repeatedly tried to make the LTTE engaged in peace talks with the goal of reaching a peaceful negotiated settlement throughout the protracted armed conflict. However, each attempt for a negotiated settlement was rebuffed by them but abused the cessation of hostilities during peace talks to regroup, rearm and strengthen its military capabilities.

Consequently, during the ceasefire that accompanied the last peace process facilitated by Norwegian government, the LTTE terrorists operated in the east of the country, abruptly stopped the free flow of water from the famous ‘Mavil Aru’ sluice gate by depriving life-sustaining water and damaging the budding paddy cultivation. As such, the government of Sri Lanka had no resort but to launch Humanitarian Operations to liberate the people of the East and North from cruel clutches of LTTE. Hence, in the intention of strengthening the fighting power of the Infantry operated on ground, the Task Force 1 comprising two Infantry Brigades was raised on 31 August 2007 at Irattaperiyakulam camp under the leadership of then Brigadier CP Gallage RWP RSP.


Further, it was later restructured as the 58 Division, the principal offensive infantry division of the Sri Lanka Army that operated under the outstanding leadership of present Chief of Defence Staff and Commander of the Army, General LHSC Silva WWV RWP RSP VSV USP ndc psc as the first General Officer Commanding. Capture of Silavaturai was the first offensive operation conducted by the Task Force -1 in which the infantry troops of 8 Sinha Regiment were air lifted to the battle field for the air borne operation launched to liberate the town Silawathurai. Thereafter, the troops proceeded straight away to capture the towns of Arrippu, Kallaru and Kokkupadayan with zero casualties.

Capture of Arrippu was just another strategically important operation followed by dominating the areas of Kallaru and Kokkupadayan carried out by the troops 8 Sinha Regiment along with Special Forces operated under the Task Force -1. After a short period of time, the command of Task Force 1, was transferred to then Brigadier LHSC Silva WWV RWP RSP USP psc and it made the longest journey in the Wanni Humanitarian Operation from the West coast to East coast, fighting over 200 kilometers until reaching its final victory capturing the single largest land mass ever captured by any formation, including the largest quantity of LTTE military hardware, weaponry and other equipment subsequently conducting the largest ever hostage rescue mission at Puthumathalan by liberating over one hundred thousand civilians from the cruel clutches of the brutal terrorists.

At the outset, the Task Force -1 was tasked to maneouvre along the western coast thereby compelling the terrorists to exploit more resources. The capture of the Mannar “Rice Bowl” together with the villages such as Alankulama, Andankulama, Alakaddiveli, Parappakandal, Parappukadatan was highlighted among all major achievements and most importantly the famous “Giant Tank” that provided water to 153 small irrigation tanks. This operation was conducted by the infantry troops of the 581, 582 and 583 Brigades along with three other Support arms battalions operated under the Task Force -1.

In the meantime, the entire western coastal line including the LTTE bastion in Pooneryn was liberated by maneuvering rapidly towards the north despite adverse weather conditions. This paved the way for creating an alternative land route to Jaffna, a much-anticipated need of the Army which restricted the LTTE from the rear. Then Paranthan junction which was the gateway to Jaffna including, Mullaitivu and Pooneryn towns were also liberated where the desperate LTTE carders put on a strong resistance in Kilinochchi and the LTTE leader was reported to have said that capturing Kilinochchi is only a dream of the Sri Lankan Army. However, it was satirically ironic that the advancing troops never stopped until they captured Mullikkandal, Minnaniranchan and Marattikannaddi Villages as well.

Subsequently, transforming the Task Force -1 into the 58 Division commanded by its first General Officer Commanding then Major General HSC Silva WWV RWP RSP USP psc secured the gateway to Jaffna, the famous Elephant Pass, linking up with 53 and 55 Divisions on 09 January 2009 thus signaling the liberation of the entire A9 road. However, the LTTE then carried out a desperate suicide attack on the 58 Divisions and IDP centre at Puliyankokavanai, killing advancing troops and fleeing civilians including children and elderly people. By then LTTE controlled areas were reduced to just Pudukudithirippu and Puthumathalan but Pudukudithirippu was also liberated on 03 March 2009. Thereafter, the final no-fire zone in Vellamullivaikkal was declared on 09 May 2009 and by 13 May 2009 troops of 58 Divisions having advanced further south managed to restrict the LTTE to an area of four-square kilometers.

Finally, on 18 May 2009, in a desperate attempt to save its leadership, the LTTE posing as IDPs crossed the Nandikadal Lagoon and launched a surprise attack at Vellamullivaikkal but the advancing valorous troops of 58 Division were never stopped until they secured the last stretch of land making the entire nation was liberated by completely eradicating the terrorism from the soil of the motherland leaving the dead body of the terrorist leader in the mangroves of the Nandikadal Lagoon bank.

Nevertheless, the role and tasks that were shouldered by the 58 Infantry Division whilst engaged in the Humanitarian Operations would certainly be restructured in line with the existing way forward strategy of the Sri Lanka Army. Hence, having taken up the existing challenges, the 58 Infantry Division under the leadership of Maj Gen SRB Aluwihare RWP RSP ndu psc as the present General Officer Commanding, is undertaking Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) Operations for which the troops under command would be equipped and trained on the above field in addition to their primary role.

CAPTURE OF SILAVATURAI / ARRIPPU / KALLARU AND KOKKUPADAYAN

The first operation in the North humanitarian operation was launched by Major General Charlie Gallage with the intention of liberating Silawathura from the clutches of the terrorists. Sice the 8 SR tps were air lifted to the battle area for the operation launched to liberate Silawathura,

With the success of liberation of Silawathura, tps continued advance further and they succeeded capturing areas of Arrippu, Kallaru and Kokkupadayan. Zero no of cas were reported throughout the OP to capture Arippu.

To keep the max surprise, plan of the Op was not disclosed for the participants till the last moment. Every team comd was briefed separately, other than their individual task they were not aware the task of others. due to this LTTE had to fled away leaving lot of their valuable items.

CAPTURE OF RICE BOWL AND THE WAY UP TO NANDIKADAL

The entire green patch in the Mannar district is called as the ‘rice bowl’ due to the large tracts of paddy fields in the area which yielded the biggest paddy harvest in the country in 1991. The significant feature of the area is the famous 'Giants Tank' itself provides water to 153 small irrigation lakes.

58 Division had carried out the operation to capture this area, consisting Parappakandal, Giant Tank, Alampil, Parappakadattan, Andankulam, Palakkuli, Palampiddi, Periyamadu, Andankulam and Adampan areas, including several and large Tiger bases. 58 Division took total control over the entire Mannar 'Rice Bowl' area on 29 June 2008. It was main and heavily fortified defenses at the Mannar front after several days of heavy fighting.

Losing the ‘rice bowl’ area approximately 120 sq kms was a major setback for the LTTE and for the 58 Division it was a major achievement as troops were nearing the end of their objective to capture the entire district soon including the Vidaththaltivu area, which is the LTTE Tigers “sea supply base”.

The TF 1 command changed and Brig Shavendra Silva took over the command on 25 Oct 2007. He commenced operations on September 1, 2007 and Brig Shavendra Silva's first challenge was to liberate Yodawewa from the clutches of terrorists. The LTTE terrorists carried out a number of terrorist activities centered on the Yoda Wewa in Mannar.

After capturing the rice bowl TF 1 tps adv further interior along the western coast to capture VIDATALTIVU, which was the main LTTE Sea Tigers base in the western coast. Since then, by overcoming all odds TF adv steady fastly bagging obj one by one and captured Illuppakadawai, Vellamkulam, Nachchikuda, Jeyapuram, Madam, Devils Point, Chempankundhu, Pnr And Kalmunai Point assuring total defeat to the terr outfit and liberated the entire western coast from the clutches of terrorism by 17 Nov 2008.

The evasive battle during the period of one year and two months was very much decisive for the military history of Sri Lanka and a nation as a whole. At this time of the op or the EELAM WAR IV only TF 1 had achieved the obj assigned and that was KLN.

With that mile stone victory, Comd of the Army assigned the TF1 to adv to PARANTHAN facilitating offensive of other fmn launched into battle from all theatres. Any successful move by the TF 1 along the Kilaly lagoon anticipated to be decisive. Tps with high standard of morale captured the second obj on 01 Jan 2009, which was a reawakening victory for the entire nation. The capture of Paranthan and Kilinochchi on the same day was an alarming setback for the LTTE. The town of Kln was the nerve centre of LTTE where they had claimed as the capital of EELAM. Factually, the capture of the LTTE nerve centre at this juncture of history was a subject of the war veterans to scrutinized and surveyed where they described excellent leadership of the Comd of the Army. Entire nation was reawakened with this victory where SF had fought over one and half years striving against this obj.

ELEVATED TO THE STATUS OF A DIVISION

As a tribute to the excellent performance, Comd of the Army elevated the TF 1 to a status of a Div named as 58 Div on 03rd Jan 2009. The Div with high standard of morale commenced the adv towards the eastern coast of the country where LTTE ldr was suspected to be located. The new Div captured LTTE strong holds one by one at a pace namely Murusumoddai, Tharamapuram, Visuwamadujunc, Suwandirampuram.

With the enhanced morale due to consecutive victories achieved with excellent leadership of TF1 Comd, Bde Comds and commitment of all Bn Comds the tps were preparing to adv further with a determined and synchronized mind set in to the heartland of LTTE.

The Div with high standard of morale commenced the adv towards the eastern coast of the country where LTTE ldr was suspected to be located. The new Div captured LTTE strong holds one by one at a pace namely Murusumoddai, Tharamapuram, Visuwamadu Junc, Suwandirampuram, Puthukuirrpu Junction.

At this juncture of the HUMANITARIAN OP 58 Div had recognized for its outstanding performance winning hearts and minds of patriotic people in the country. Then set forth the Irranapali battle where LTTE had it’s worst ever humiliating defeat in the history after WLO and SUWANDIRAMPURAM infiltration battle where all snr LTTE carders were massacred by the 58 Div tps counting 602. This victory had been matched with the historic battle of Vijithapura by King Dutugamunu.

With all these historic victories 58 Div was assigned with the task of world biggest rescue msn. The 58 Div was confident about the outcome of the desired op and engaged in careful, and detail planning of the msn by all levels of comds concerning the fmn. Creating amazement to the war veterans in the world, the hurdle was concluded with an astonishing and historic victory. By this time 58 Div records the longest march in the military history of Sri Lanka.

Having marched the longest dist in the military history of Sri Lanka vigorous tps of the division rescued highest ever number of civilian captives from the clutches of barbaric terrorists. This was recorded as the biggest Humanitarian Msn in the world. The 58 Div was determined to continue with the battle to eradicate terrorism from the island. The tps with will to fight crossed over to NFZ and captured Puthumathalan which was surprising lost and the most successful op of the military history of Sri Lanka.

Thereafter victorious tps continued with the operation and captured FARAH 3 ship which had been captured by the LTTE in the year 2006 whilst sailing in MLT seas. Thereafter tps adv further south and destroying en pockets along the eastern coast and linked up with 59 Div which was a historic mile stone victory for the Army once again. At this crucial hour of the op LTTE outfit had been encircled in a smaller piece of land area. Terr ldr PRABAKARAN and the gang continuously sent SOS msgs through foreign msns in the country indicating conditional surrender. Next few days and remaining hours were decisive for PRABAKARAN and the gang. SL Army the tps of 58 Div after encirclement continued with the battle hunt LTTE ldr who was hiding in general area Vellamullivaikkal. The entire area was searched amidst resistance from the pockets of desperate en counting hours of survival.

Finally on 19 May 2009 LTTE ldr found death in a small island in Nanthikandal mangrove. The 58 Div tps destroyed all the LTTE resources like fire assets, total destruction of manpower, sea tiger assets and all other capabilities.

The 58 Div with an excellent leadership and commitment concluded the Humanitarian Op having marched a total dist of 201 km in nearly two yrs of span. This historic victory was the result of commitment of commanders at all levels and dedication of each and every single sldr who contributed in achieving whatever the task that was to be performed. This was a victory belong to every Sri Lankan with strong leadership of the Commander of the Army.

In this operation alone, 6261 Army personnel sacrificed their lives for the freedom of their homeland. 29951 Army personnel were injured and maimed. The death toll from the Navy, Air Force and Police as well as the Civil Defense Force is even larger.

The troops were stationed in Kilinochchi area after the conclusion of the Wanni humanitarian operation and were deployed at the Boossa camp in Galle from15 March 2015. According to the army redeployment plan 58 Div Hq shifted to Puttalm and located at Sinhawiiluwatta camp from 28.01.2020 and Division was named as Army Commander’s Reserve Div.

VISION

To be the withstanding Army Commanders Reserve Strike Force which is highly responsive, capable of instantaneous deployment for rapid execution of all military manoeuvres to support other formations, sister services to exterminate all forms of threats to national security while being the first respondent during natural and manmade disasters to reduce destruction to life and property of all Sri Lankans and support civil authorities in maintaining the normalcy.

MISSION

To be self-reliant to conduct all forms of military operations with well trained, skilled, highly mobile and equipped combat elements that is innovative in decision making, versatile in execution and prompt in responses. Be prepared to respond confidently during natural calamities and to support civil authorities in maintaining the normalcy.

ROLE

Being the Reserve Division of the Commander of the Army, the role of 58 Infantry Division is to harness the full potential for the rapid deployment into action through the use of coordinated decentralized operations characterized by flexibility, innovation, audacity and aggressiveness.

TASKS

Primary Tasks.

            To conduct offensive and defensive operations in support of deployed field formations against external aggression in the context of internal rural and urban insurgency, terrorism and semi conventional combat environments, as per the direction issued by the Army Headquarters.

  1. To act as the Reserve Infantry Division of the Commander of the Army.
  2. Assist to control situations which severely affect the national security.
  3. To conduct offensive and defensive operations in semi conventional environment.
  4. To conduct counter insurgency/ counter terrorism operations in urban and rural environment.
  5. To assist Special Force operations at the preliminary stage when required.
  6. To conduct humanitarian assistance operations in an emergency.
  7. To conduct internal security duties.

Secondary Tasks.

            To perform routine duties assigned by the Army Headquarters and conduct humanitarian assistance operations in versatile environments to deal with multifaceted contingencies and emergencies including following tasks:

  1. Rapidly respond disastrous situations and conduct search and rescue operations.
  2. Fulfill the duties assigned by the Army Headquarters supporting the well-being of the public.
  3. To perform duties assigned by the Commander of the Army.

Major General SRB Aluvihare RWP RSP ndu psc
General Officer Commanding


PAST COMMANDERS

TASK FORCE 1 COMMANDERS FROM TO
Brig CP Gallage RWP RSP USP 31/08/2007 24/10/2007
Brig LHSC Silva WWV RWP RSP USP psc 25/10/2007 02/01/2009
GOCs OF 58 DIVISION
Brig LHSC Silva WWV RWP RSP USP psc 03/01/2009 28/07/2009
Major General LHSC Silva WWV RWP RSP USP psc  03/01/2009 06/08/2009
Brig BA Perera RSP USP ndu psc  07/08/2009 31/07/2011
Major General KJ Alwis RWP RSP USP ndu psc  01/08/2011 06/09/2011
Brig AWMADBN Ranawana RWP RSP psc 07/09/2011 25/03/2012
Major General KADA Karunasekara RWP RSP VSV USP ndu psc  26/03/2012  15/08/2012
Brigadier DMWBWMRBM Daulagala RSP  16/08/2012  02/01/2013
Brig JGL Waduge RWP RSP  03/01/2013 15/08/2013
Brig CK Gunawardana RWP USP ndu  16/08/2013  02/11/2013
Maj Gen CK Gunawardana RWP USP ndu  03/11/2013 30/08/2016
Maj Gen AWMADBN Ranawana RWP RSP ndc psc  01/09/2016 03/04/2017
Brig AMSB Athapaththu  04/04/2017 15/12/2017
Maj Gen ALSK Perera RWP RSP USP ndu  21/12/2017  15/03/2019
Maj Gen HMJK Gunarathna WWV RWP RSP ndc psc  18/03/2019  20/12/2019
Maj Gen KHPP Fernando RWP RSP USP ndu  23/12/2019  02/03/2020
Brig API Fernando RWP USP  03/03/2020 18/05/2020
Maj Gen API Fernando RWP USP  19/05/2020 12/1/2021
Maj Gen CD Ranasinghe RWP RSP 13/01/2021 02/10/2021

OPERATIONS CONDUCTED

  • Capture of Silavaturai / Arrippu / Kallaru and Kokkupadayan
  • Capture of rice bowl and the way up to Nandikadal
  • Humanitarian operation

DISASTER MANAGEMENT

● Soldiers of the 58th Infantry Division suppress a building stall fire that broke out in front of the 122 Mile Post on the Puttalam-Kurunegala road on 07.07.2021.

● 1 SLSR troops under 583 Inf Bde and 58 Inf Div cleared the railway track and the Colombo – Kurunegala main road on 14 May 2021 with the assistance of RDA and CGR in general area Yangalmodara, Polgahawela which was affected due to land slide occurred in the area after heavy rains.

CONTACT DETAILS

Postal Address : Headquarters ,58 Infantry Division, (Commander’s Reserve), Army Camp ,Sinnawillu Watta,Puttalam
Email Address : 58div@army.lk ,taskforce12007@gmail.com
Telephone Numbers : 0322050199
Fax : 0322050301