New SLA commander assumes duties
[TamilNet, Friday, 25 August 2000, 20:55 GMT]
Lieutenant General Lionel Balagalle took over as the 16th commander of the Sri Lankan Army (SLA) on Friday. In a press conference soon after his appointment, Lt. Gen Balagalle, who had served as the commanding officer of the forces in the Jaffna peninsula and the Vanni, admitted that there were problems with the SLA. He said there was a need to strengthen the SLA's manpower, provide better training to the soldiers and modernise the army's weapons. However, he stressed that the SLA was ready for war, and that the current lull had allowed time for the soldiers to regroup.
Lt Gen Balagalle also said that it was necessary to find a political solution to the Tamil problem, even if the war to crush the Liberation Tigers continued.
Lt Gen Balagalle succeeds Lt Gen Srilal Weerassoriya, who is expected to take over as the Sri Lankan ambassador to Pakistan.