The Sri Lankan Navy saw the passing out of its first ever batch of Marine Corps this week, following training from the United States military, at a navy base on land taken from Tamils.
At a military ceremony held at the navy’s North Western Command Headquarters in Mannar, Sri Lankan president Maithripala Sirisena oversaw the passing out of 164 Marines, including 6 officers and 158 sailors.
The Sri Lankan navy base at Mullikulam was set up in September 2007, after Tamil villagers were evicted from their land by the military. They have not yet been allowed to return and instead the base was the site for the passing out ceremony.
See more on the military occupation of Mullikulam here and here.
The ceremony also saw US and Sri Lankan tropps engage in mock military exercises. One of the exercises simulated a beach front raid and assault. See a video of the event below.
Amongst those present at the ceremony were Sgt Maj Anthony Spadaro, the Senior Enlisted Leader for the Commander of the US Pacific Command and US Ambassador to Sri Lanka Atul Keshap. Senior Sinhala Buddhist monks were also present.
US Marines have been extensively involved in training Sri Lanka troops, as they set up the first SLN Marine Battalion.
Speaking at the ceremony, the Sri Lankan president was quoted as saying the military had carried out a “number of notable military missions… and he reiterated that the nation still remembered the supreme sacrifices made by the tri-forces, Police and Civil Defence Force during the period of hostilities in the country”.
Mr Sirisena also “commended the noble service rendered by the sea-going arm for the defence of the motherland, as we being an island nation”
He went on to thank the “excellent cooperation extended by the American Government” in establishing the new battalion.
“The current Government succeeded in getting training opportunities in powerful countries of the world, which had been lost to our security forces in the past,” added Mr Sirisena. “These opportunities will be increased in the future.”
See more from the official Sri Lankan Navy website here.
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