By Nisal Rukshan
During the war, the supporting regiments of the Army played a vital role in achieving victory. Different supporting regiments were allocated responsibilities in the theatres of war as per combat appreciations and estimates.
In the Sri Lankan context, even in peace the supporting elements play a pivotal role. Among them is the Sri Lanka Army Corps of Engineers, leading towards a national responsibility within all capacities.
The motto of ‘Motherland Honour & Service’ exemplifies that combat engineers a.k.a ‘Sappers’ now serve the motherland in various capacities. Their technical and manpower skills now build the Country under the leadership of General Shavendra Silva, Chief of Defence Staff and Commander of the Army under theme of ‘Protectors of the Nation’.
The organisational structure of the Engineers is as follows, Office of Chief Field Engineers, Engineers Division, Field Engineer Brigade, Plant Engineers Brigade, General Engineering Brigade, Regimental Centre and Regiments (units).
Today, the Engineers Corps perform their duties with a variety of responsibilities.
The Army de-miners of the Humanitarian Demining Unit (HDU) remove landmines laid by the LTTE, to make the land safe for human use. They contribute on a daily basis by searching for Anti-Personal mines, Anti –Tank Mines and all other explosive devices deployed during the war. The process was appreciated by the UN.
The Sappers are experts in the field of explosives. Their readiness to detect any explosives has protected our country numerous times during the war. However, the Army engineers displayed their expert knowledge and skills during the Easter Sunday attack. Even now, they are with the operational readiness to respond to any threat.
The Engineers’ Chemical, Biological, Radiation, and Nuclear (CBRN) response units are also well recognised and trained experts. Recently, their service was provided to the nation at the Mattala International Airport when students arrived from Wuhan after the Covid-19 pandemic arose. Troops extended their hands to disinfection of students and equipment. These CBRN troops are always stand by to deploy and react to prevent an occasion of Chemical, Biological, Radiation, and Nuclear threats.
Mongoose Mine Detectors
The Sri Lanka Engineers have trained mongoose to detect explosives and have a well-trained Mongoose team which adds a special features to their regiment. This team is competent enough to detect explosives, Mines and Unexploded Ordnance. This team adds value to the Corp of Engineers by extending their role, skills and techniques in the field.
Construction of buildings
Engineers are real all-rounders. They are capable of the construction of buildings. Their hands are behind the structures of state sectors, especially in schools, drainage systems and flyovers etc.
This skill saves the unnecessary wastage of men, material and money in the country. Meantime it empowers the public sector with effectiveness and efficiency.
UN Peace Keeping Missions
The troops of Sri Lanka Engineers serve as peacekeepers to the UN’s Stabilisation Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) established on 1 June 2004. Subsequently, the Corps deployed its troops in Lebanon for peacekeeping duties and development project work in Chad. In addition, Officers of the Corps have served as Staff Officers and Military Observers in many missions bearing the responsibilities of a ‘Blue Helmet’.
This task includes a massive weight of the country’s development. Therefore, it spread widely, especially in outstations for the Country’s well-being as ‘Protectors of the Nation’ under the following sectors by empowering the Presidents vision ‘Splendor of Vitas and prosperity’.
Sappers empower the farmers and the needy communities by enhancing the capacities of existing tanks around the country to have a larger water capacity for consumption and agricultural purposes. Thanks to their technical skills they are able to renovate the abandoned tanks to serve the communities under the ‘Vari Saubahgaya Project’. Presently hundreds of sapper reconstructed tanks contribute in helping the needy communities of the island by fulfilling their water requirement.
Army Engineers continuously coordinate with the Government machinery and are a very effective human resources unit. They are presently developing 100,000 km of the rural road network in the country under 12 projects. Of which two projects (the Neluwa to Lankagama road and the Koawenigama to Lankagama road) were successfully completed, and the people of the area are enjoying its outcome. The remaining projects are now under construction in the Ratnapura, Kalutara, Matara and Galle Districts.
This exceptionally skilled unit of Engineers can easily handle disaster situations like floods and landslides. During landslides, they support the search and rescue troops by removing debris, erecting temporary bridges, handling backhoes and all type of earthmoving equipment. Their assistance was invaluable during the Aranayake Samasra Ridge landslide, the Bloemendal landslide and the Koslanda landslide.
School playgrounds and other playgrounds for the public were inaugurated with the Presidents Gama Samaga Pilisandarak programme under the direction of the Commander of the Army and the other stakeholders of engineering tasks including Chief Field Engineer, General Officer Commanding Engineers Division, and 3 Brigade commanders of the engineers’ Division.
Other Special Tasks
Army Engineers with their technical and knowledge skills perform other special tasks as well. Among these, are the construction of the Sandahiru Seya, Deegawapiya pagoda renovation, Defence Headquarters construction is significant projects.
To contribute to the betterment of the Nation, Sri Lanka Engineers consist of
1 Field Engineer Regiment,
5 Field Engineer Regiment,
6 Field Engineer Regiment,
7 Field Engineer Regiment,
8 Field Engineer Regiment,
9 Field Engineer Regiment,
10 Field Engineer Regiment,
11 Field Engineer Regiment,
12 Field Engineer Regiment, 14 CBRN Regiment, 4 (v) Field Engineer Regiment,15 (V) Field Engineer Regiment, 16 Workshop Regiment, other than the Engineers Division and three Brigade.
Corps of Sri Lanka Sri Lanka Engineers is always with the nation as true friends. Their hands always will assist anyone during a time of need.
Under the leadership of Chief of Defence Staff and Commander of the Army General Shavendra Silva, Major General Chandana Wijesundara, Chief field Engineer -Sri Lanka Army, Major Nishantha Herath, Colonel Commandant, Sri Lanka Engineers, General Mahinda Jayawardena, General Officer Commanding Engineers Division, Brigadier D.P. Jayasinghe, Commander Field Engineer Brigade, Brigadier G.W.A. Seneviratne, Commander Plant Engineer Brigade, Brigadier P.P.A. Perera, Commander General Engineer Brigade and all Commanding Officers of the Regiments are in alert to serve the nation in any means.
Courtesy - Ceylon Today Focus