Maj.Gen. Neil Dias' term extended
[TamilNet, Thursday, 12 April 2001, 13:10 GMT]
The Sri Lankan President extended the service of the Sri Lanka army's Chief of Staff, Major General Neil Dias, who was due to retire Thursday before she left to an undisclosed destination abroad. Maj. Gen. Neil Dias is one of the most battle experienced commanders of the SLA. Sources in the SLA headquarters in Colombo ventured to speculate that he might succeed Lt. Gen.Lionel Balagalle who is due to retire this year as the commander of the SLA. The extension of the battle hardened commander's service was seen by analysts as an indication of Colombo's determination to give optimum priority to prosecuting the war against the Liberation Tigers.
Maj.Gen. Neil Dias commanded the third phase of the Riviressa, the SLA operation against the LTTE in Jaffna in 1995. He also served as the commander of the army's Volunteer Force. Maj. Gen. Dias was the General Officer Commanding (GOC) of the SLA's 53 Division during SLA's aborted Jayasikurui campaign against the Liberation Tigers in the Vanni. The three year long operation was intended to open the Main Supply Route to Jaffna through the Vanni, which is now held by the Liberation Tigers.
The Sri Lankan government appointed him as the Security Forces Commander for the Vanni after the SLA's calamitous debacle there in November 1999.
Maj.Gen. Dias succeeded Maj.Gen.Janaka Perera as the Chief of Staff of the Sri Lanka army. The Colombo press reported Maj.Gen. Perera was unhappy that the government overlooked him in when appointing (then) Maj. Gen. Lionel Balagalle as the SLA commander.
The Deputy Chief of Staff Maj. Gen. Lohan Gunawardena was expected to succeed him.
Maj.Gen. (ret) Perera was later sent as Sri Lanka's High Commissioner to Australia.