Mahesh Senanayake

Mahesh Senanayake
Allegiance Sri Lanka
Service/branch  Sri Lanka Army
Years of service 1983 – 2019
Rank General
Unit Sri Lanka Engineers / Special Forces Regiment
Commands held Commander of the Army
Chief of Staff, Sri Lanka Army
Jaffna Security Forces
52 Division
Special Forces Brigade
211 Infantry Brigade
Regimental Center Commandant, Special Forces Regiment
3rd Special Forces Regiment
1st Special Forces Regiment
Battles/wars Sri Lankan Civil War
Insurrection 1987-89
Awards Rana wickrama medal.svg Rana Wickrama Padakkama
Rana sura medal.svg Rana Sura Padakkama
Vishista Seva Vibhushanaya medal bar.svg Vishista Seva Vibhushanaya
Uttama Seva ribbon bar.svg Uttama Seva Padakkama

General N.U.M. Mahesh W. Senanayke, RWP, RSP, VSV, USP, psc is a senior Sri Lankan Army officer and military engineer. He was a former Commander of the Sri Lanka Army, and Colonel of the Regiment of the Sri Lanka Army Special Forces Regiment.[1] A veteran of all four phases of the Sri Lankan Civil War, he has served in both its Northern and Eastern theaters. He became the 1st ever non-political presidential candidate in Sri Lanka in 2019.[2]


Educated at Ananda College, Colombo, he is a graduate of the United States Army Command and General Staff College and holds a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from Jawaharlal Nehru University, Pune,[3] India[4][5]

Military career

Early career

Senanayake enlisted in the Sri Lanka Army through its 16th Officer Cadet Intake (long course) on 16 October 1981.[6] Subsequent to completing his training, Senanayake was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the Corps of Engineers, joining the 1st Plant Engineer Regiment on 23 June 1983.[4] He would go on to become a Troop Commander/Squadron Commander in the same regiment, as well as being posted as an instructor at Diyatalawa.[1][4] In 1989, he took an inter-unit transfer to the Special Forces Regiment, where he served as Squadron Commander of the 1st Regiment Special Forces, and later commanded the 3rd Regiment Special Forces.[4]

Higher command

Staff appointments he has undertaken include postings at the office of the Colonel - General Staff, 52nd Division; Brigadier - General Staff at Security Force Headquarters- Jaffna (SFHQ-J); and Directing Staff at the Defence Services Command and Staff College, Sapugaskanda.[1][4] In 2006, having attained the rank of Brigadier, he was appointed Director Plans at Army Headquarters, going on to work with the US Army as Senior Manager, Project Management of Afghan Operations and Strategic Planning for Civil Reserved Air Fleet (CRAF).[4][7] Senanyake has also held the positions of Regimental Center Commandant of the Special Forces Regiment, Brigade Commander of the 211 Infantry Brigade: Vavuniya, Commander- Special Forces Brigade, and General Officer Commanding the 52 Division in Varani, Jaffna.[4][8]


Following the results of the 2010 presidential elections, in which his former commandant Sarath Fonseka failed to defeat incumbent Mahinda Rajapakse, Senanayake was among Fonseka's loyalists in the military to flee the country, fearing reprisals from the Rajapakses.[9] He returned to Sri Lanka following President Maithripala Sirisena's victory in the 2015 presidential election, was reinstated and appointed Military Secretary at Sri Lanka Army headquarters in February of that year.[9][4][7] In 2016, he was appointed Commander, SFHQ-J, during which tenure he was responsible for overseeing the ongoing resettlement of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) from the Civil War in the Jaffna peninsula.[4]

Commander of Sri Lanka Army

Major General Senanayake was appointed the Army Chief of Staff on 22 March 2017, and was then promoted to the rank of Lieutenant General and Army Commander by order of President Maithripala Sirisena on 4 July 2017.[4][6][8] During his tenure the army was mobilised and deployed on several occasions, in aid of civilian authorities when a state of emergency was declared as a result of the 2018 anti-Muslim riots and the 2019 Easter bombings bring the security situation under control. On 21 August 2019, he retired from the army, having being promoted to the rank of General. He was succeeded as Army Commander by Major General Shavendra Silva, the Chief of Staff of the army.[10]

Political career

General Senanayake started active politics after his retirement from the position of Army Commander. He contested for 2019 Presidential election from National Peoples Party. [11] He assured that he will lead professionals and intellectuals to parliamentary elections in 2020. [12]

Personal life

Senanayake is married, and has two daughters and a son.[4]


  1. ^ a b c "Commander of the Army". Retrieved 4 July 2017.
  2. ^
  3. ^ Srinivasan, Meera. "Sri Lanka is the only country that has eradicated terrorism". The Hindu. Retrieved 16 May 2018.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "Major General Mahesh Senanayake, 50th Chief of Staff in the Army". Retrieved 4 July 2017.
  5. ^ "General Mahesh Senanayake and His Story". Retrieved 28 October 2019.
  6. ^ a b "Mahesh Senanayake Appointed New Commander of the Army". Retrieved 4 July 2017.
  7. ^ a b "Reshuffles Announced for Several Key Positions In Sri Lanka Army". Retrieved 4 July 2017.
  8. ^ a b "Mahesh Senanayake new Army Commander". Retrieved 4 July 2017.
  9. ^ a b "Returns from exile to become Army's No 2". Retrieved 7 August 2017.
  10. ^ "Retired General Mahesh Senanayake : 4 decade military service". News First. Retrieved 22 August 2019.
  11. ^ "Mahesh Senanayake to contest at upcoming elections - Sri Lanka Latest News". Sri Lanka News - Newsfirst. 18 November 2019. Retrieved 26 December 2019.
  12. ^ "Will march forward and contest general elections: Mahesh Senanayake". Retrieved 26 December 2019.

Military offices
Preceded by
Crishantha de Silva
Commander of the Army
July 2017 - August 2019
Succeeded by
Shavendra Silva
Preceded by
Ubaya Madawela
Chief of Staff of the Army (Sri Lanka)
March 2017 - July 2017
Succeeded by
Amal Karunasekara

Other Languages