Colombo Telegraph

Lalith Weertaunge Rebuts President On Northern Troop Numbers

Making a presentation to foreign diplomats  in Geneva on January 21, presidential secretary Lalith Weeratunge contradicted President Mahinda Rajapaksa on the number of troops deployed in the Northern Province. Weeratunge is in Geneva as part of the campaign to fight against the impending resolution at the Human Rights Council in March 2014.

Weeratunga

On Sunday, January 19, President Rajapaksa while opening a hospital constructed with private sector donations claimed that there were only 12,000 Army personnel in the entire Northern Province. Speaking at the opening of the Tellippalai Trail Cancer Hospital president Rajapaksa added that the strength of the Army in the North at the end of the conflict was 70,000.

Yet making his presentation to Geneva diplomats just two days later Weeratunge says that there are 80,000 Army personnel in the North as of October 2013. Illustrating with a graph the Presidential Secretary claims that that there has been a reduction of 30 percent of Army troops from the peak deployment of roughly 120,000 in December 2009. Interestingly the graph shows that the number of troops in the North in fact increased after the end of the war in May 2009 to peak in December that same year. Weeratunge’s numbers do not consider the Navy and Air force personnel deployed in the Northern Province.

The Army currently has four Security Forces Head Quarters in the Northern Province, namely Jaffna, Wanni, Kilinochchi and Mullaittiyu. Among these there are 14 Divisions and 3 task forces. By convention a Division would consist of between 10,000 to 30,000 troops. The Army deployment in the Northern Province is as follows;

Security Forces Headquarters – Jaffna (SFHQ-J)

51 Division, based in Jaffna

52 Division, based in the Jaffna Peninsula

55 Division, based in Elephant Pass Military Base, Jaffna Peninsula[32]

Security Forces Headquarters – Wanni (SFHQ-W)

Area Headquarters Mannar, Mannar

21 Division

56 Division, operating in the Vavuniya District

61 Division, operating in the Vavuniya District

Security Forces Headquarters – Kilinochchi (SFHQ-KLN)

57 Division, operating in the Kilinochchi District

66 Division, operating in the Kilinochchi District

68 Division, operating in the Kilinochchi District

Task Force 3, operating in the Kilinochchi District

Task Force 7, operating in the Kilinochchi District

Security Forces Headquarters – Mullaittivu (SFHQ-MLT)

59 Division, operating in the Mullaittivu District

64 Division, operating in the Mullaittivu District

65 Division, Thunukkai, Mullaittivu District

Task Force 2, operating in the Mullaittivu District

Independent Divisions

53 Division, based at Mankulam

58 Division, based at Paranthan (formally referred to as the Task Force 1

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