CREATION AND RAISING OF THE OFFICE OF CHIEF FIELD ENGINEER
The Sri Lanka Army steadily expanded with the increase of operational commitments in the country during the early 1990s.The command and control of in-support operations linked with combat engineer tasks also were complexed parallel to such expansion. Due to this expansion, the Engineer Brigade was raised on 1 June 1988 and functioned under Regimental Headquarters. On 9 May 1996, Engineer Brigade began to function independently at Army Cantonment Panagoda and Brigadier TF Bohoran RSP USP psc assumed the office as the first Brigade Commander. According to the nature of operational requirement, the Headquarter Engineer Brigade was relocated to Kirulapona in 2001 and subsequently to Maththegoda in 2006 before being deployed in Boo Oya, Vavuniya from 10 May 2008.
With the outbreak of the Elam war IV in 2006, new Infantry Divisions and Task Forces were formed to cater for the advancing forces from several fronts. The Corps of Engineers too had to be expanded to support the increasing demand for Combat Engineer Support in the operational theatres. Hence, the Office of Chief Field Engineer was established at Army Camp Maththegoda to support the operational formations on 12th March 2007. At the time of raising, the Office was known as the Headquarters of Chief Field Engineer and was situated in the 5 SLE RHQ Building in Maththegoda. Though the Office was raised in 2007, it existed from September 2006.
Headquarters Chief Field Engineer - Mattegoda
HQ CFE occupied the 5 SLE RHQ Building until the HQ CFE Building was completed in 2010. HQ CFE functioned in this location until the AHQ complex was completed in 2019. With the inaugural opening of the Army Headquarters complex in Baththaramulla the Office was relocated to Block 6 Ground Floor on 26th November 2019 and was renamed as the Office of CFE.
Headquarters Chief Field Engineering Office Building Opening at Mattegoda - 28.01.2010
At the time of raising the HQ CFE in Maththegoda, the first Chief Field Engineer was Major General L M Samaraweera RWP RSP USP along with a limited staff. At the inception HQ CFE utilized the resources of the Engineer Brigade until the 2010. The HQ CFE immensely contributed during the Northern and Eastern Humanitarian Operations with the limited resources available. Prior to the raising of the Office of CFE, Engineer Brigade was the Operational Formation which provided the Combat Engineer support for the Fighting Formations in the theatre of operations.
INVOLVEMENT IN HUMANITARIAN OPERATIONS
At the outbreak of Eastern Humanitarian Operations over the closure of the Mavil Aru sluice gates, 7 Field Engineer Regiment SLE provided combat engineer support to all the Field and special operation Formations under Security Forces (East) namely 22 Division, 23 Division, Commando Brigade and Special Force Brigade from 26 July 2006 to 12 July 2007. The combat engineering missions were carried out at Mavil Aru, Mutur, Sampoor and Foul Point, Panichchankerni,Vakarai, Thoppigala (Baron’s Cap) areas under intense enemy fire.
15 officers and 436 Other Ranks contributed for liberation of eastern theatre. In addition, clearing of mine fields to facilitate advancing infantry troops, reconstruction of Panichchankerni bridge, within 48 hours was a significant achievement. Lankapatuna bridge, which links Sampoor and Echalampattu was an important construction to sustain the livelihood of civilians. 71 Field Squadron was split into small groups to par with Commando and Special Force pattern of operations and the skills they exhibited assisted immensely to achieve the objectives of the special operations including capturing of Thoppigala (Baron’s Cap).
Simultaneous to the offensive operations against the LTTE in the Eastern theatre, the operations in the Wanni theatre also commenced to cause maximum attrition to the LTTE by engaging from multiple fronts. The operations in Wanni theatre comprised of two fronts, including Wanni Front and Northern Front.
During the operations 5 and 11 Field Engineer Regiment SLE were affiliated to Security Forces Headquarters (Wanni). 5 Field Engineer Regiment SLE provided engineer support to 21 Division, 57 Division, 58 Division, Task Force 3, Task Force 5, Task Force 6 and Area Headquarters (Mannar). And 11 Field Engineer Regiment SLE provided engineer support to 56 Division, 59 Division, 61 Division, Task Force 2, Task Force 4, Task Force 8 and Area Headquarters (Weli Oya).
Northern Front - The Jaffna Peninsula.
The Jaffna Peninsula is mostly surrounded by water, connected to the rest of the island by a narrow strip of land. The total land area including inland water of Jaffan is 1,030 km². The land route to Jaffna Peninsula through Elephant Pass was cut off since April 2000. With the land route through Elephant pass being severed off over 450,000 civilians and 15,000 military personnel had to be sustained by air and sea. Hence the field engineer and plant engineer role were a vital factor to function all military installation in Jaffna while facilitating logistic supplies via sea and air.
High Security Zone Palali.
The High Security Zone-Palali (HSZ) was the most critical military deployed area in Jaffna peninsula. The Security Forces Headquarters (Jaffna) comprised of air field, Northern Command of Sri Lanka Navy, two harbours, military installations such as field hospital, ammo dumps and transit camp were within the HSZ. Hence HSZ was a lucrative target for the LTTE. Hence, a high level of security was needed at every entry and exit points to the HSZ. Due to this fact, the field engineers were performing their tasks around the clock at each of these entry and exit points to ensure that all movements in and out of these points are screened properly to prevent lapse in security without hindering the movement.
Commencement of Operations.
Once humanitarian operations were in progress in the eastern theatre, 1 Field Engineer Regiment SLE and 6 Field Engineer Regiment SLE were deployed in Jaffna peninsula. The task assigned to these regiments was to provide combat engineer support to 51 Division, 52 Division, 53 Division, 55 Division and HSZ. Subsequent to liberating the eastern theater from the grip of LTTE, humanitarian operations were concentrated to the Wanni theatre.
The northern front of Wanni Humanitarian Operation was supported by 1 and 6 Field Engineer Regiments while 8 and 10 Field Engineer Regiments contributed the Infantry Formations by performing duties on RFT role.
PAST APPOINTMENTS HOLDERS.
1. CHIEF FIELD ENGINEERS.
a. Maj Gen LM Samaraweera RWP RSP USP 05.09.06 - 27.02.09
b. Maj Gen DMD Alwis USP psc 27.02.09 - 10.02.10
c. Brig VUB Nanayakkara USP Hdmc 10.02.10 - 26.07.10
d. Brig KMU Wijeratne USP (Overlook) 27.07.10 - 05.08.11
e. Maj Gen LN Wickramasuriya RSP USP ndu psc 28.06.12 - 01.10.12
f. Maj Gen LN Wickramasuriya RSP USP ndu psc 01.10.12 - 03.09.15
g. Brig SJMAR Senevirathne RWP USP psc (Overlook) 03.09.15 - 28.12.15
h. Brig GDI Karunarathne RSP psc 28.12.15 - 12.02.16
i. Brig GDI Karunarathne RSP psc 12.02.16 - 28.07.17
j. Maj Gen DS Weeraman psc 28.07.17 - 15.08.18
k. Maj Gen HRKP Peiris USP ndu 15.08.18 - 28.06.19
l. Maj Gen TJ Nanayakkara RWP VSV USP ndu 05.07.19 - 25.11.19
m. Brig AN Amarasekara USP ndu (Over look) 26.11.19 - 10.12.19
n. Maj Gen HRKP Peiris VSV USP ndu 11.12.19 - 23.07.20
o. Maj Gen AN Amarasekara USP ndu 24.07.20 -21.12.21
p. Maj Gen WMGCSB Wijayasundara RSP USP ndu 22.12.21- 10.06.22
q. Maj Gen MK Jayawardena RSP USP ndu 11.06.22 - 07.06.23