The Sri Lanka Military Academy (SLMA) situated in Diyatalawa is the premier training institute of the Sri Lanka Army which trains officer cadets from enlistment to commissioning. Diyatalawa, situated in the province of Uva lies in one of the most bracing climates of Sri Lanka. SLMA conducts the regular long course which is of two years and nine months duration for gentleman cadets and courses of shorter duration for volunteer batches, lady intakes, directly enlisted officers and military training for KDU cadets (Kotelawela Defence University).
Diyatalawa first came into military prominence when the British Government opened a camp for 5,000 Boer prisoners of war in the early part of the 20th century. Thereafter, Diyatalawa served the Royal Navy, as a sanatorium for naval personnel of the Royal Navy’s East – Indies Station. A military training depot was also established here for many volunteer units of the then Ceylon Defence Force. With the advent of independence, the Ceylon Army was formed on 10th October 1949 and the military area in Diyatalawa was the obvious choice to train the personnel of the fledgling Army.
Army Recruit Training Depot(ARTD) was established at the premises of the Ceylon Volunteer Force Camp. It was ceremonially inaugurated by the then Prime Minister Rt. Hon. DS Senanayake on 06th February 1950. The first Officer Commanding of the Army Recruit Training Depot was Major R D Jayetileke MBE CLI. The ARTD was later established at the Thistle Camp on 24th June 1950. The hill on which the military training depot was established was named “Thistle Hill” as the emblem of “HMS Thistle” was made on this hill, thus naming it “Thistle Camp.”
The 1950 mandate of the Army Training Depot confined itself to the training of other ranks. Facilities did not exist to train officers, and therefore, officer cadets were sent to the Royal Military Academy (RMA), Sandhurst in the United Kingdom. The first batch of officer cadets was enlisted in the Army on 10th October 1949 and was dispatched to RMA Sandhurst. Officer cadets underwent a period of basic training at the Army Recruit Training Depot before leaving for their training overseas. The raising of new units created a shortage of officers because Sandhurst at best could provide only six vacancies per intake to Ceylon. A policy decision was made to recruit graduates and the intermediate qualified under graduates of the University of Ceylon as Lieutenants and 2nd Lieutenants respectively, after their initial training at ARTD and subsequent training at Mons Officer Cadet School (where British National Service officers were trained) and Eaton Hall Officer Cadet School (where British short service commissioned officers were trained). Subsequently, officer cadets were trained at the Indian Military Academy and the Pakistan Military Academy. Overseas training however, was not sufficient to meet the growing needs of the army.
With the expansion of the Ceylon Army, there was a requirement of specific training programmes for various courses such as other ranks, non–commissioned officers, direct enlisted officers (university graduates), basic training for officer cadets and other officer courses in Tactics, Administration etc. As a result, the Army Training Centre was established consisting of a Headquarters element, Tactics Wing and Drill and Weapons Training Wing. The Army Training Centre was ceremonially opened by the Commander of the Army, Brigadier A Muthukumaru OBE ED on 01th October 1958 and the Centre was placed under the command of Lt Col BJH Bahar psc CLI. Col L M Wickramasooriya was appointed as the first Commandant in May 1964.
In 1968, the government made a decision to indigenize all officer cadet training mainly due to foreign exchange restrictions. An officer cadet school was to be established at the Army Training Centre that had hitherto trained cadets and young officers on an ad hoc basis in the Tactics Wing of the Army Training Centre. The task was entrusted to Maj JED Perera CE, who was in the first batch of officer cadets trained at Sandhurst. The syllabus was identical to that of the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst. The first Intake of officer cadets who was earmarked to be trained at the Army Training Centre, Diyatalawa, was enlisted on 16th April 1968.
Training of recruits and other ranks continued under the aegis of the Army Training Centre whilst a separate organization named the Sri Lanka Military Academy was raised with effect from 10th January 1981 to train officer cadets of both Regular and Volunteer Forces of the Sri Lanka Army. Col SMA Jayawardane psc was its first Commandant. The Military Academy was tasked with training of officer cadets of the following categories. Other Rank Commissions; Short Service Commissions; Technically Qualified Officers; Volunteer Force officers and the military phase of cadets ex the Kotelawala Defence Academy(final year prior to commissioning). The Army Training Centre had two training wings, one for the training of recruits and the other for the training of Non-commissioned officers. An Officers’ Study Centre was also to be established later in the year for conducting such courses as Junior Staff Course, Senior Tactics Course and Senior Administration Course. In April 1982, the Sri Lanka Military Academy and the Army Training Centre were once again amalgamated under one Commandant, Col JI De S Jayaratne G and the ATC continued to train both officer cadet and recruits. In 1988, due to the accelerated expansion of the Sri Lanka Army, recruit training was transferred to other training establishments and the Army Training Centre at Diyatalawa continued with its primary role of officer cadet training. The first lady intake was enlisted on 23rd November 1983. On 20th August 1992, the Army Training Centre was re-designated as the Sri Lanka Military Academy. In the year 1997, the Colours awarded to the Army Training Centre were laid to rest and the President of Sri Lanka, Her Excellency Chandrika Kumarathunga re-awarded the President’s Colours and the Academy Colours to the Sri Lanka Military Academy.
In the year 1999 the Academy introduced a Bachelor’s Degree in Military Studies for the cadets of regular long course in affiliation with the Sabargamuwa University of Sri Lanka with the intention of awarding them a recognized academic qualification. The programme was the brainchild of Lt Col (Rtd) A A De Alwis SLSR, the first Director Academics. In 2011, the Degree offered by the Academy was accredited to the Kotelawala Defence University which governs the academic curricular of the tri services.
ESTABLISHMENT OF ARMY TRAINING CENTER
INDIGENOUS TRAINING OF OFFICER CADETS
ESTABLISHMENT OF SRI LANKA MILITARY ACADEMY
BRITISH CAMP FOR BOER PRISONERS OF WAR ESTABLISHED IN THE EARLY PART OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY
BRITISH NAVAL PERSONNEL IN THE EARLY DAYS AT DIYATALAWA
ARMY RECRUIT TRAINING DEPOT INAUGURATED ON 6TH FEBRUARY 1950
INAUGURATION OF THE ARMY RECRUIT TRAINING DEPOT ON 6TH FEBRUARY 1950 BY THE THEN PRIME MINISTER , THE RT HON D S SENANAYAKE
PASSING OUT PARADE OF INTAKE – 1 OF THE ARMY TRAINING SCHOOL
AWARDING OF PRESIDENT’S COLOURS TO THE ARMY TRAINING CENTRE BY HIS EXCELLENCY WILLIAM GOPALLAWA THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF SRI LANKA ON 14TH OCTOBER 1972
RE-AWARDING OF PRESIDENT’S COLOURS TO THE SRI LANKA MILITARY ACADEMY BY HER EXCELLENCY CHANDRIKA KUMARATUNGE THE PRESIDENT OF THE DEMOCRATIC SOCIALIST REPUBLIC OF SRI LANKA ON 1997