Army Commander General Shavendra Silva with senior officers
A pandemic of this scale needs a quick response. Undoubtedly the military has the capacity of furnishing the manpower as well as the resources needed to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic has halted the people’s ordinary lives since March 2020.
It has caused more than 1,200 deaths and 170,000 have been infected to date. In this regard, the prevention strategy that has been followed in Sri Lanka is unique. The Army’s participation in this huge task is immeasurable. Since the building of the first quarantine centre, they did not stop this huge and tireless effort. Now they are preparing Intermediate Care Centres (ICCs) and even hospitals. From that arrangement onwards, Army troops in collaboration with other Forces and medical authorities are engaging in a remarkably challenging task.
First, the military offered their helping hands in the building of quarantine centres islandwide. More than a hundred centres are being built. Then, they proceeded to furnish every requirement of those who are residing in the quarantine centres. Not only did they provide food, water, sanitary and care but also ensured the mental stability of the inmates. However, with the rapid increase of the daily reported cases, the troops are building and converting Army camps and other private properties into ICCs. By now, the Army has provided more than 20,000 beds for the use of COVID positive patients who are receiving treatment at ICCs. They donated not only the beds but also included more than 60,000 bed sheets and pillows. Further, they were able to hand over the largest Army-improvised COVID-19 hospital in Seeduwa which could accommodate 1,200 beds for the usage of patients who are fighting for their lives due to the unavailability of hospital rooms.
In addition, random temperature check-ups in populated areas, complete security for the isolated areas, supplying food and medical services to the isolated areas, providing transportation for the quarantined, bringing expatriates from neighbouring countries, emergency ambulance services etc. are impressive. Among all, currently, they give their fullest corporation for the ongoing vaccination programmes islandwide. Because of the military’s assistance, the country has been able to vaccinate more than a hundred thousand civilians daily.
RAPID DEPLOYMENT MOTORCYCLE SQUADRON & TACTICAL DRONE SYSTEM
To control the spread of the COVID virus further, the Army rapid deployment motorcycle squad has been deployed to inspect vehicles and check for violators of travel restrictions. This squadron had been established during the second wave of the COVID-19 last year and it has been re-deployed due to the increasing number of daily positive cases across the country. The Army rapid deployment unit is being deployed in Colombo and surrounding areas on the instructions of the Army Commander. Also, other teams of Army personnel are engaged in tracking people who violate travel restrictions using drone cameras around high-risk areas in the country.
COMBAT DRUG TRAFFICKING
Service in the Army is not limited to a specific period or territory. They are always physically and mentally ready to relentlessly work round the clock anywhere. In addition to operations related to COVID-19, the Army has undertaken contingency alertness for which their military discipline in structure, command, control and communication serve as a guiding light. Throughout the past few months, the Army took into custody more than hundreds of suspects during their emergency raids for those who violated the law in the country.
Suspects around the country were apprehended with illegally mined sand, illegal logging and transportation, smuggling of cannabis and other narcotics along with several other anti-social behaviours. It should be recounted that all the operations are conducted with the consent and collaboration of the respected police stations, officials of the Wildlife Conservation Department, the Forest Conservation Department, the Geological Survey and Mines Bureau and many other relevant authorities.
DISASTER MANAGEMENT AND SURVEILLANCE
As the Army is now considered and respected as the outstanding organisation to handle all types of emergencies that the nation is faced with, the Army engagement in flood relief services during the past weeks is praiseworthy. To ensure the smooth running of the disaster relief services, another separate team of Army personnel is ready throughout the day to face any challenge of recovering victims who face disastrous consequences. The best example was flash floods in the Southern Province in the past few weeks. As the heavy rain continued, disastrous weather rendered thousands of flood victims homeless. The Army offered every possible assistance to those flood-affected victims in the South and across the country. The Army’s mission has not ended with the end of the war. The guidance, direction, supervision and the clear command which this most formidable Force receives is much praiseworthy.
This has been apparent because the Defence Staff Chief and Army Commander, General Shavendra Silva empowers every possible timely assistance through his personnel.
Therefore, the Sri Lanka Army - Defenders of the Nation - will forever serve as the Guardians of the Nation dedicatedly and the Army will go forward in the same spirit in the future too.
In this mission it is ably assisted by the Sri Lanka Navy and the Air Force, as well as Police/STF and the Civil Defence Force.
Some of Army’s achievements during the pandemic
* Establishment of quarantine centres and Intermediate Care Centres (ICCs)
* Provision of 20,000 beds countrywide for Corona patients
* Establishment of the largest COVID-19 hospital in Sri Lanka
* Deployment of Rapid Deployment Motorcycle Squadron (both men and women)
* Deployment of Tactical Drone System
* Donating essentials
* Conducting security checks during travel restrictions
* Disaster Management Surveillance (DMS)
* Combating drug trafficking
Courtesy - www.dailynews.lk