Defence Secretary completes his first year in office today (Nov 20)

November 20, 2020

  • One year amidst challenging episodes

Defence Secretary Major General (Retd) G.D.H. Kamal Gunaratne completes his first year in office today after assuming office as the Defence Secretary on November 20, 2019.

His Excellency the President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who was the former Defence Secretary, appointed Maj. Gen. Gunaratne to the post of Secretary to the Ministry of Defence, the supreme portfolio of the country’s defence, in trust of his ability, courage, commitment, sheer professionalism and the working calibre in any of the capacities shouldering responsibilities.

Accordingly, Maj. Gen. Gunaratne on successful completion of 35 year-long distinguished and unblemished military career, encompassing various key appointments, in a larger spectrum of Defence and Civil Military Coordination, assumed office as the Secretary of Defence Ministry on November 20, 2019 auspiciously.

He is a battle-hardened Gajaba Regiment warrior, who has extended a landmark contribution to the elimination of ruthless terrorism of LTTE from the Sri Lankan soil. He successfully directed the victorious 53 Division, resulting in the end of LTTE leader Velupillai Prabhakaran, as well as many other front rank senior most members including Soosai, Pottu Amman, Banu, Theepan, Jeyam, Lawrence, Charles Anthony, Ratnam Master and many others.   

Rather he assumed one of the most challenging positions in the island, following a crucial and insecure tenure that had engulfed the entire country in religious extremism, drug trafficking, underworld activities, organized crimes and extortion. The national defence was crippled due to the weakening of intelligence and tri-services. Historic places of worship with archaeological importance were encroached by extremists during the time.

Inaugurating his initial objectives as the Defence Secretary, the fight declared against illegal drugs envisioned for the eradication of drug menace from the island, has seen desirable results with law enforcement agencies making headway into confiscating large quantities of drugs at sea and land and arresting many involved in the illegal racket in various platforms during the year.

Defence Secretary also assumed duties as the Chairman of the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka (TRCSL), on December 06, 2019.

A special operations unit, which functions for 24-hours, was established at the Police Special Task Force (STF) Headquarters to ensure national security and public order on January 12, 2020. This special operations unit was established following the directives of the Defence Secretary to strengthen the national security and to curb the illegal activities in the country.

Enhancing of intelligence services while amalgamating its vast network with other line agencies, was another form of successful methodologies adopted by the Defence Secretary to cripple the drug ring within and around the island.

Accordingly, under his guidance, the joint efforts of the Tri-Forces, STF, Police, Excise and Customs Departments and other related state agencies in the anti-drug movement have brought tangible and worthy results throughout his one year-long tenure.

The arrest of the biggest ever haul of drugs at sea, about 605 kilograms of ICE (crystal methamphetamine), around 579 kilograms of Ketamine were arrested about 463 nautical miles off the southern coast of the island on March 28, 2020 by Sri Lanka Navy.  Further, three foreign fishing trawlers with 400 kilograms of heroin and 100 kilograms of the ICE, were arrested during a 25 day-long joint operation, by Sri Lanka Navy together with the Police Narcotics Bureau on March 05, 2020. Apart from that, SL Navy was able to capture flagless vessel in high seas about 548 nautical miles off Sri Lankan shores and found about 260 kilograms of heroin and 56 kilograms of ICE in the foreign vessel are one of the landmark incidents of such initiatives.  

Maj. Gen. Gunaratne stepping onto another highly associated avenue of the drug ring commenced the battling of underworld and its activities while bringing the notorious drug kingpins into the book of law.

Afterwards, the  Defence Secretary directly intervened and took swift measures to crush the drug and crime network operated behind the bars in prison cells. He was instrumental in converting the Boossa Prison into a super-maximum prison to imprison high profile notorious prisoners.

He was behind the measures taken to increase the facilities to rehabilitate drug addicts and a special centre to accommodate over 1,000 drug inmates is now under construction in Nittambuwa. Another facility would also be constructed to accommodate 2,000 inmates at Weerawila under his visionary measures to reintegrate drug addicts back into the society.

During the outbreak of COVID-19 in the island, Tri-Forces personnel were managed to play a significant role as frontiers in the fight against Coronavirus to protect the country’s population, under his directives since the first positive patient was found in the country.

Under his directives, military-managed quarantine centres were established, media campaigns were stimulated for ‘Itukama’ fund raisings, military support was extended for the frontline healthcare fighters against the deadly virus, military intelligence based network was established to support the healthcare staff and PHIs, CRD and KDU based innovations such as inspection of ventilators for the virus combating purpose and extending various supportive measures to the people living in lockdown areas.

On June 02, 2020 Maj. Gen. Gunaratne was appointed as the Chairman for two Presidential Task Forces. Accordingly, Presidential Task Forces (PTF) on Archaeological Heritage Management in the Eastern Province and PTF to build a Secure Country, Disciplined, Virtuous and Lawful Society was gazetted.

Propelling the work on PTF to Mange Archaeological Heritage in the Eastern Province, Defence Secretary steered the commencement of Deegawapiya Stupa restoration initiating swift measures. Among the other Archaeological Heritage sites in the Eastern Province, Muhudu Maha Viharaya and restoration of dilapidated Neelagiri Stupa in Lahugala are also in the pipeline. Accordingly,  he has instituted a contributory trust fund for the purpose and Tri-Forces and Civil Security Department will assist the construction process under his guidance.  

The Sandahiru Stupa construction in Anuradhapura is also advancing under his directives since he has visited the location for several times on inspection visits.

Maj. Gen. Gunaratne was reappointed as the Defence Ministry Secretary by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, once again on August 13, 2020 after gaining a landslide victory in the general election.  
He was also assumed duties as the Secretary to the Internal Security, Home Affairs and Disaster Management Ministry, in addition to the present duties.

Plans were drawn to regularise the private security services that are operating island-wide to provide quality security services under his purview and measures were also taken to streamline the registration and licence renewal processes of security service providers by formulating an expedited procedure.

Maj. Gen. Gunaratne was the driving force behind proposed cyber security act for the prevention and management of cyber security threats and incidents effectively and protection of critical information infrastructure with the Sri Lanka Computer Emergency Readiness Team (SLCERT).

He has held a number of bilateral discussions with foreign delegates in Sri Lanka such as Ambassadors, High Commissioners, Country Reps and Defence Attaches during the last year and has held a good rapport all the way through enhancing ties between other countries and international organizations.

Since he is a renowned author, the launching ceremony of the English translation of the book titled ‘Gotabaya’ and ‘Paathalayo’, a Sinhala novel based on real underworld episodes, was held on September 6, 2020 to coincide his 59th  birthday.

So far, he has penned seven books including the most famous ‘Ranamaga Osse Nandikadal’ later translated as ‘Road to Nandikadal’. Further, ‘Kadol Aththu’, ‘Uththara Devi’ and ‘Gotabaya’ Sinhala version were the other books.

Among his visionary measures,  a numbers of plans are afoot to build a safe and secure nation for the future generation.