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Passing out parade of the 60th Intake of the Special Task Force (STF) today :

The force that bolstered the Forces

This article is written to mark the passing out parade of the 60th Intake of the Special Task Force (STF) today at the STF Training School, Katukurunda which will be graced by His Excellency the President Mahinda Rajapakse.

The STF is proud to host HE the President and the Defense Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa for this important event, who guided the STF’s role for success during the recently concluded successful Humanitarian Operation against the LTTE.

The Inception of the STF

The Special Task Force (STF) is the elite-Para military arm of the Sri Lanka Police which was formed on 1st March 1983. The STF is specialized in Counter Terrorists Operations and VIP Security detail. At the initial stages the best men from the Police Department were hand picked and they were provided with specialized Para-military training by one of the best elite units/British SAS (Special Air Services) in the world. They were armed with M 16 weapons and backed by South African made Buffle vehicles during 1980s.

Dedicated and highly disciplined

As soon as the STF was deployed for Operational duties in Jaffna Peninsula, they killed Capt. Ranjan Lala; the deputy for LTTE leader Prabhakaran in Thondamanaru area in 1984. On 1984.09.01 four STF personnel were killed while they were on duty at Thikkam, Jaffna. Since then 462 Commandos made the supreme sacrifice to safeguard the unity and territorial integrity of the motherland.

The Special Task Force consists of highly skilled, highly motivated and highly trained personnel that have earned the national and international recognition for its highly disciplined highly precise operations which have been recognized for its complexity and success.

The Special Task Force being a small unit has always prided it self in team work to which they owe its glowing success. The initial foreign training coupled with the vast experience gained throughout its journey, groomed the STF as one of the most professional Para military outfits in South Asia.

The Specialties of the STF

The personnel recruited to the STF are handpicked, educated; mentally and physically fit who are put through 16 weeks of specialized basic training at an approximate cost of Rs 450,000 per person. This training lays the initial foundation on which this organization is

formed. From then on personal are put through the regular duties and functions of the Special Task Force. Approximately after a period of a year they fall into specialized areas such as small teams, search & bomb disposal, intelligence, VIP protection duties, SWAT Teams, Communication and medics.

It is in this background and vast experience that the Special Task Force has been recognized for its various specialized capabilities. The main strength and capability of the STF is its small and flexible size. The successful team handling of any form of terrorism/insurgency situation with minimum casualties is its main specialty. The STF

Here they go with pride and vigour... Pictures by Indrajith Perera

Troops have earned the reputation of being battle-hardened, fearless fighters with the capacity to negate any form of threat.

The STF always believes in team work and in providing security to the populace in a holistic way, covering all ingredients of security, economic, social and psychological well-being. The soaring standard of dedication, morals, values & discipline displayed by the STF commanded respect as well as popularity in the whole country.

The STF is one of the few security agencies invited for the security assessment duties at the last Olympics held in Beijing. The STF has already trained Military teams from Maldives and India in addition to specialized units of the armed forces. It also provides close protection training for several local agencies like Air force and the Navy.

The Special Task Force is guided by the STF Motto, “Victory Assured”

The Special task Force has always been guided by its motto, leadership and team work. The strength and success of the STF is the concept of being apart of the STF family .It is a well formed, dedicated and highly disciplined Unit. They have also been recognized for their rapid deployment in difficult & rugged terrain. The deployment of Motor-Cycle Teams, Sniper and ‘Cheetah Groups’, in our areas of control are a few of the exclusive Specialized areas of the STF. The newly acquired Para-Trooper Wing of the STF will enhance the current proven capabilities of the STF.

STF Troops are capable of fighting in Built-Up Areas, Closed Quarter Battle, Quick Reaction Deployment, handling Riot situations, Explosive Ordinance Disposal, VIP Protective Security and Peace Keeping and Resettlement Operations.

Organizational Structure

Minister of Defence

Secretary (Ministry Of Defence, Public Security Law & Order)

IG - Police

Snr. DIG (Administration/ STF/ Operational Command)

Snr. DIG Mahinda Balasuriya

Commandant - Special Task Force

(DIG K.M.L Sarathchandra)

Duties, functions and responsibilities of the STF

01) Conducting Counter-Terrorist Operations in Northern & Eastern theatres.

02) Securing the Main Supply Routes (MSR) in Ampara, BCO, Vavunia, Mannar, Wellioya, Omantai - Kanagarayankulam and Kebbitigollawa areas

03) Manning the Forward Defense Line (FDL) in Kebbithigollawa area

04) Providing security for threatened villages in Ampara, BCO, Vavuniya and Kebbitigollawa areas

05) Assisting the Police in Law-Enforcement duties

06) Providing security for key VVIPs

07) Providing security related analysis to other organizations

08) Conducting specialized search and bomb disposal duties

09) Assisting Disaster Management activities. Ex: Post-Tsunami Reconstruction activities in Ampara/ BCO Districts

The Operational Deployment of the STF

As the STF grew in numbers, they were asked to provide protection to key installations in Colombo District. Then the STF was vested with the additional responsibility of providing personnel for the protection of the Presidents, Prime Ministers, several Ministers of the Cabinet and other VVIPs. By the year 1984, the STF had taken

over the control of the East from Valachchene to Potuvil. After going through several curves throughout its history, at the moment the STF is mainly dominating in Ampara, Batticaloa, Kebbitigollawa, Vavuniya, Madhu area in Mannar, Wellioya, Pulliyankulam and Kangarayankulam in Vanni region.

The Passing out Parade of the 60th STF Intake

The 60th Intake consists of 100 Police Sub Inspectors and 314 Police Constables who successfully completed the STF’s Basic Training programme. The Basic Training course of the STF consists of 14 weeks training at the STF Training School, Katukurunda and two weeks jungle training conducted at a place in the Eastern Province. The basic STF

Course consists of subjects such as physical training, search techniques, field crafts, basic awareness of explosives, map reading & navigation, firing, tactics, battle field first aid, communication etc.

The STF’s Training School was established in 1984 and it was instrumental in making the STF as one of the most professional Para Military outfits in the region. The Tom Hegan; from the British SAS was the first Chef Instructor of the STF Training School. In Sri Lanka, the training of Battlefield Snipers and Small Teams were firstly introduced by the STF Training School during 1980s.

The efforts made by former Commandant Lionel Karunasena and late DIG Upali Sahabandu contributed immensely for the well-being of the Training wing. The late DIG Upali Sahabandu was killed by a LTTE Suicide bomber while he was engaged in an Operation on1996.12.17 in Karativu, Ampara.

The former Director (Training) SSP Upul Seneviratne, was also assassinated by the LTTE on 2006.08.07 in Kandy. At the moment SSP Patric Edama overlooks the STF’s Training Wing. Other than the Basic Training programme, the STF Training School conducts several advance training programmes such as VIP Training, Bomb Disposal & Search Courses, Support Arm Courses, Sniper Courses, Small Team Training, Intelligence Training, Refresher Courses etc.

As mentioned earlier, the STF training wing has successfully trained Military teams from Maldives and India in addition to specialized units of the armed forces. It is commendable to note that the STF instructors were instrumental in forming the National Security Service (NSS) of the Maldives in 2006. It also provides close protection

training for several local agencies like Sri Lanka Air force and the Navy.

Operational Victories of the STF

The STF is a battle hardened unit which has achieved several operational victories since its inception in 1983, where many of them were not known to the general public. As per the available facts, during the Third Ealam war, the STF launched the under noted

operations in Kanjikudichchiaru area in Ampara District.

* Operation Weera Vikum - 1996

* Operation Veera Gigum - 1997

* Operation Akunu Pahara - 2001

Operation Akunu Pahara - 2001

On 04.06.2001 under the direction of Mr. K.M.L Sarathchandra; the present Commandant STF, when he was the Director (Operations) at that time with the assistance provided by then SP R.W.M.C Ranawan and then ASP Rohan Silva launched the above operation against the LTTE in Kanjikudichchiaru area. As per the intelligence prevailed at that time, around 70 LTTE cadres were based in the jungle hideout. The STF surrounded the LTTE’s main camp from four directions and took the enemy by surprise. In the confrontation 15 LTTE cadres were killed and recovered large quantity of military items.

Contribution of the STF towards the Humanitarian Operation launched by the Sri Lanka Army (SLA) to liberate the Eastern & Northern Provinces from the LTTE.

Eastern Liberation:

Mavilaru/ Sampur & Vaharai Operation:

The Sri Lanka Army (SLA) launched the Humanitarian Operation to liberate the entire Eastern & Northern Provinces from the LTTE, when the terrorists blocked the Mavilaru Water gates in July 2006. The STF which was mainly dominating the Ampara & Batticaloa Districts at that time received instructions to take over the areas dominated by the SLA and relieve them for the operational commitment at Mavilaru.

The STF successfully took over the security in Kalladi area, BCO town and also secured the Main Supply Route (MSR) from BCO to Mailambaveli in Eravur. In September 2006, the STF was asked to take over the Vavunativu and Bridge Camp SLA bases in BCO to relieve the SLA troops for their further commitments in Vaharai area. In January 2007, the SLA successfully liberated Mavilaru, Sampur and Vaharai areas from the LTTE.

Kanjikudichchiaru Opeartion “Niyathai Jaya”

Under the guidance of Secretary - MoD, Operation “Niyathai Jaya / Victory Assured” launched by the STF in the jungles of Kanchikudichchi Aru in Amparai District on 4 January 2007 to destroy LTTE strongholds and wither their influence in this jungle terrain posing threats to national security interests in Akkaraipattu and Pottuvil Sectors. SSP M.R Latif spearheaded the entire operation with the assistance provided by SP W.P Wimalasena, SP Maduma Bandara, ASP T.F Hadji, ASP Vidura Dissanayake, ASP P.K Kulatunga, ASP P.G.S Rathepitiya, ASP M.G.S.K Muruthetuwegama, ASP W.M.K.S Pandivita and R/ SSP Dr. M. Balasuriya. Around 24 LTTE bases were destroyed by the STF troops liberating the entire Ampara District from the LTTE.

Batticaloa & Thoppigala Operation:

The Sri Lanka Army (SLA) with the direct assistance provided by the STF successfully launched a Humanitarian Operation in February 2007, to liberate the LTTE Controlled areas in Batticaloa District.

It marked the final phase of a massive Military Campaign launched from Mavil Aru area in July 2006 to liberate the entire Eastern Province from the LTTE. The combined Military campaign launched by the SLA and the STF continued till the fall of Thoppigala from the hands of LTTE in July 2007.

The due instructions were received by the STF in early February 2007, to assist the SLA in launching the proposed military campaign to eliminate the LTTE from Batticaloa and Thoppigala areas.

The initial operational plans were drawn on the basis of the intelligence provided by the Intelligence Units and the Communication Interception Units of the STF. During the following days the LRRP (Long Range Reconnaissance Petrol) Teams belonging to the Army Commandos brought down and stationed at identified STF bases. They have successfully conducted number of LRRP Missions inside the enemy territory destabilizing the LTTE leadership.

The thousands of civilians who lived within the LTTE dominated areas continued to flee in to Government controlled areas with the progression of the military campaign. Automatically the STF was vested with the additional responsibility of assisting and over looking the newly arrived Internally Displace Persons (IDP). From 14th May 2007, the STF commenced the re-settlement of IDPs in Vellavelli Divisional Secretariat Division with the assistance provided by the Government.

At the end of the programme the STF commendably re-settled nearly 100,000 IDPs in four DS Divisions with success.

Other than to the Mahaoya and Pulukunawa STF Sectors, further SLA troops were received and accommodated at the STF bases in Batticaloa Sector. They were also accompanied by Armoured Corps, Artillery and MBRL Units which were strategically placed in identified STF bases to assist the operation.

Those SLA troops backed by heavy Artillery and MBRL fire advanced in to the enemy territory from places such as Manmunai, Vavunativu, Chankalladi etc.

The STF continued to assist the SLA by accommodating and supporting them in number of ways which made the victory possible.

By the end of April 2007, the combined military campaign of the SLA and the STF successfully cleared the entire Batticaloa Bowl area from the LTTE with a minimum damage to the Government forces.

From 5th April 2007, the STF was vested with the additional responsibility of taking over and dominating the newly cleared areas from the SLA. Three new STF Sectors were formed in the regions of Vellavelli, Kokkadicholai and Vavunativu. The STF Vellavelli Sector which consisted of bases such as Kakachchawatta, Batto-Junction, Thalawaya, Vellavelli, Paladiwatte and Porativu.

The Kokkadicholai Sector consisted of bases in Shanthimalai, Attuchena, Mavadimumari, Kokkadicholai and Magaladithivu. The third STF Sector was established in Vavunativu region. It consisted of bases in Urasari, Kanchirankuda, Samanthiaru, Vavunativu, Pavakkudichena, Unnichchiya, Aithamallai, Mahilavedduvan and in Naripulthottam.

The tireless an dedicated efforts made by then Director (Operations) SSP R.W.M.C Ranawana, ASP Waruna Jayasundara, ASP J.R Senadira, ASP Vidura Dissanayake, ASP G.S Rathepitiya, ASP Sylvester Wijesinghe and ASP N.K.S.N. Gunaratne assisted the STF to regain the maximum domination and best public confidence in the newly liberated areas.

Finally on 10th July 2007, the SLA regained Thoppigala with the continuous assistance provided by the STF which also marked the conclusion of one of the most successful military campaigns in the history.

Operation Launched in Yala area:

On 03-04-2009, under the direct leadership provided by the Commandant STF DIG K.M.L Sarathchandra, the STF successfully launched an offensive to eliminate the terrorists in Yala area. The STF troops were spearheaded by DIG R.W.M.C Ranawana, SSP Ranjith Perera, ASP Sylvester Wijesinghe, ASP P.K Kulatunga, ASP M.G.S.K Muruthetuwegama and ASP N.K.S.N. Gunaratne. During the operation, the STF troops

killed 13 LTTE cadres and recovered several military hardware. The Kandiah Sarawanandan alias “Paramanandam Master”, an explosives expert including three female cadres were killed.

Northern Liberation:

In January 2009, under the direct supervision of Snr. DIG Mahinda Balasuriya and Commandant (STF) DIG Mr. K.M.L Sarathchandra, the STF took over the responsibility of securing the Welioya road from Omanthai in Vavuniya.

Then the STF was asked to take over the A 9 Road from Omanthai to Kanagarayankulam via Pulyankulama in February 2009, to assist the ongoing Military operation in Northern. The STF contribution made the history, when the first Military convoy made its journey from Jaffna to Vavunia along A 9 road after 25 years on 2nd March 2009.

The STF also made a significance presence along Vavunia- Mannar road and Madhu road.

The contribution made in Kebbitigolleawa area, securing the threatened Sinahala villages has to be mentioned. The SSP K.H Jayaweera, SSP J.K Nanayakkara, SSP Ajith Wickramasekara, ASP Waruna Jayasundara, ASP A.M.L Abeykoon, ASP Rohana Karunarathne and ASP V.A.S Perera, ASP Athula Davulagala made the STF’s final contribution for the Humanitarian Operation in the Northern sector a success.

The SSP M.J.M Rishard, SSP Kapila Jayasekara, SP Ayasa Karunaratne, ASP Athula Ratnayake, ASP Patric Silva, ASP A. Ranasuriya, ASP Rohana Liyanage and ASP Deepatha Hettiarachchi have also made a commendable contribution for STF’s commitments.


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