Lieutenant General H.L.V.M Liyanage RWP RSP ndu, more popularly known as Vikum Liyanage assumed duties as the 24th Commander of the Army on Wednesday (1) during a formal ceremony at the Army Headquarters.

On his arrival at the Army Headquarters, a Guard Turnout, presented by Gajaba Regiment troops saluted him in accordance with military traditions after the Commander of the Headquarters Brigade, Brigadier Indika Perera formally received him.

Deputy Chief of Staff, Major General Jagath Kodithuwakku afterwards warmly greeted the Commander as he arrived at the parade ground and requested him to take the salute of the Guard of Honour from the special dais. Major General Swarna Bothota, Adjutant General of the Army afterwards conducted the day’s Chief Guest to the special dais.

The next segment of the day’s ceremony saw the Parade Commander, Captain S.R.V.K.S Bandara of the Gajaba Regiment, holding the symbolic sword, reported the parade, comprised of 2 Officers and 48 Other Ranks to the day’s Chief Guest and invited him to review the Guard of Honour to suit age-old military traditions.

The event scenario, set in the background of fluttering all colourful Regimental flags, added grandeur and significance to the day’s brief, but dignified event to the rhythmic beats and melodies of patriotic sentiments, played by parade troops as the new Commander, went past reviewing the military honours, along with the Parade Commander.

After a while, the Commander arrived at the entrance to the Commander’s Secretariat at the Army Headquarters, to be received by Principal Staff Officers and senior Officers, awaiting his arrival. Upon arrival at the Commander’s office, the new Commander made floral offerings to the Buddha.

A few minutes later, offer of the traditional ‘Deheth Wattiya’ (tray of betel) to Ven Dr Aluthnuwara Soratha Thero, Incumbent at Kotte Raja Maha Vihara, Dr Kirinde Assaji Nayaka Thero, Viharadhikari, Gangaramaya and members of the Maha Sangha invited to commence religious blessings. It also paved the way for Ven Eethalawetunuwewe Gnanathilake Thero, Chief Incumbent of Mirisawetiya Raja Maha Viharaya to deliver a brief oration (Anusasana) highlighting the importance of the office of the Commander and the occasion.

As chanting of ‘Seth Pirith’ was on, the new Commander afterwards, flanked by his wife, Mrs Janaki Liyanage and family members signed a formal document to signify the acceptance of the office of the Commander of the Army.

Lieutenant General Vikum Liyanage afterwards received blessings of the clergy of all denominations and culminated the brief ceremony with the offer of ‘Pirikara’ and gifts to members of the Maha Sangha and other clergies of Catholic, Hindu and Islamic denominations.

Here follows a brief profile of the new Commander of the Army;

Lieutenant General HLVM Liyanage RWP RSP ndu has been appointed as the 24th Commander of the Sri Lanka Army, effective from 01 June 2022 by His Excellency the President Gotabaya Rajapaksa in his capacity as the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces after he was elevated to the rank of Lieutenant General with effect from the same date.

Lieutenant General Vikum Liyanage, prior to his new appointment was serving as the Chief of Staff of the Sri Lanka Army. He is the most Senior Officer in the Army as at present next to the outgoing Commander.

Lieutenant General Vikum Liyanage as an Officer Cadet joined the Regular Force of the Sri Lanka Army on 27 October 1986 in the Regular Intake - 26 and followed basic military training at the prestigious Sri Lanka Military Academy at Diyatalawa and subsequently at Pakistan Military Academy. Upon successful completion of Officer Cadet training, he was commissioned in the rank of Second Lieutenant and was posted to the Gajaba Regiment.

During his 35 years of illustrious military career, he has held a number of significant command, staff and instructional appointments, including Platoon Commander, Company Commander and Adjutant of 4th Gajaba Regiment. In the Eastern theatre of operations, Lieutenant General Vikum Liyanage performed a commendable role contributing to the eradication of terrorism from the region. He was also the Intelligence Officer of 21 and 55 Infantry Divisions, Second in Command of 14th Gajaba Regiment, Adjutant of General Sir John Kotelawala Defence University, Staff Officer II (Admin) at Regimental Centre of the Gajaba Regiment, Second in Command of 10th Gajaba Regiment, Staff Officer II at Directorate of Staff Duties, Commanding Officer of 8th Gajaba Regiment during which Lieutenant General Vikum Liyanage with his troops in the ‘rice bowl’ of Mannar made progress and advanced into terrorist-held areas in impressive operations.

Brigade Commander (Overlooking) of 225 and 553 Infantry Brigades, Sector Commander at Operations Command Colombo, Brigade Commander of 215, 542, 224, 221 and 623 Infantry Brigades, Director (Doctrine & Training) and Director (Operations & Systems) at the Office of the Chief of Defence Staff (OCDS), Commandant of Combat Training School (Ampara), Director General of Psychological Operations, General Officer Commanding of 21 Infantry Division, Commander Security Forces - West, Commander Security Forces - Central, Colonel of the Regiment of Sri Lanka National Guard, Commandant, Sri Lanka Army Volunteer Force and the Chairman of Sri Lanka Army Wushu Committee.

Lieutenant General Vikum Liyanage was able to widen his horizons through the experience gained over the years from respective appointments in his office and through further training he underwent. He has successfully followed a number of local courses, including the Internal Security/ Counter-Revolution Warfare Course at Army Training School (Maduru Oya), Method of Instructions Course at Sri Lanka Military Academy, Forward Observation Officer Course at School of Artillery (Minneriya), Battalion Support Weapon Course at Infantry Training Centre (Minneriya), Platoon Commanders’ Refresher Course at Army Training School (Maduru Oya), Company Commanders’ Refresher Course at Army Headquarters, Unit Security Officers’ Course at Military Intelligence Corps, Management & Leadership Development Course at General Sir John Kotelawala Defence University, Basic Mediation Skills & Process (UNHCR) course at 21 Division and Multinational Platoon Exercise-3 at Kukuleganga.

To his credit, he has also followed many overseas courses, workshops and seminars of professional value, including Officers’ Physical Training Course in India, Young Officers’ Course in Pakistan, Junior Command Course in India, Unit Commanders’ Course in Bangladesh, Senior Command Course in India, Advanced Security Cooperation Programme in Hawai and Regular Education Programme at National Institute of Lemhannas in Indonesia.

Further, he holds a Masters’ degree in Strategic and Resilience Studies from Lemhannas University, Indonesia and a degree on ‘Global Security in Indo-Pacific Region’ from Asia-Pacific Centre for Security Studies in Hawai. In addition, he has received a Diploma in Defence Management from the University of Indore in India.

During the peak of the final humanitarian operation, General Vikum Liyanage commanded the 8 Gajaba Regiment of victorious 57 and 56 Divisions which were actively conducting operations. He was able to achieve many victories against the LTTE. Over and above, Lieutenant General Vikum Liyanage who has actively taken part in operations against the LTTE has been adorned with gallantry awards of Rana Wickrama Padakkama (RWP) for individual or associated acts of bravery in the face of the enemy and performed voluntarily. He was also decorated with the Rana Sura Padakkama (RSP) for distinguished conduct in the face of the enemy. The Senior Officer was awarded above medals thrice during his military career for being a pioneer in eradicating terrorism during North and East Humanitarian Operations. Further, he is a recipient of Desha Puthra Padakkama for being wounded whilst on operations due to enemy action. Lieutenant General Vikum Liyanage has also received service decorations such as East Humanitarian Operation Medal, North Humanitarian Operation Medal, Purna Bhumi Padakkama, North and East Operation Medal, Riviresa Campaign Service Medal, 50th Independence Anniversary Commemoration Medal, Sri Lanka Army 50th Anniversary Medal, Long Service Medal, Seva Abhimani Medal and Service Medal.

During his school career, he shone in athletics and hockey as a bright student and received accolades for the school, Vijaya College in Matale.

Similarly, the honorary title of ‘Janamanya Vibhutiratna’ in the Buddhist Monastic Order of Amarapura Chapter was conferred in recognition of his immense contribution for fostering of the Buddha Sasana. He is married to Mrs. Janaki Jayaratne and blessed with a daughter and a son.