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Sri Lanka Military - 2024


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Military and security forces

Sri Lanka Armed Forces: Sri Lanka Army (includes National Guard and the Volunteer Force), Sri Lanka Navy (includes Marine Corps), Sri Lanka Air Force, Sri Lanka Coast Guard; Civil Security Department (Home Guard)

Ministry of Public Security: Sri Lanka National Police (2024)

note 1: the Civil Security Department, also known as the Civil Defense Force, is an auxiliary force administered by the Ministry of Defense

note 2: the Sri Lanka Police includes the Special Task Force, a paramilitary unit responsible for counterterrorism and counterinsurgency operations; it coordinates internal security operations with the military

Military expenditures

1.7% of GDP (2022 est.)
1.9% of GDP (2021 est.)
2% of GDP (2020 est.)
2% of GDP (2019 est.)
1.9% of GDP (2018 est.)

Military and security service personnel strengths

approximately 260,000 total personnel (200,000 Army; 30,000 Navy; 30,000 Air Force); approximately 11,000 Special Task Force personnel (2023)

note: in January 2023, Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Defense announced plans to decrease the size of the Army to 135,000 by 2024 and 100,000 by 2030

Military equipment inventories and acquisitions

the military's inventory consists mostly of Chinese and Russian-origin equipment with a smaller mix of material from countries such as India and the US (2023)

Military service age and obligation

18-22 years of age for voluntary military service for men and women; no conscription (2023)

Military deployments

100 Central African Republic (MINUSCA); 125 Lebanon (UNIFIL); 240 Mali (MINUSMA) (2023)

Military - note

the military is responsible for external defense and may be called upon to handle specifically delineated domestic security responsibilities that generally do not include arrest authority; it has sent small numbers of personnel on UN peacekeeping missions; from 1983 to 2009, it fought against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), a conflict that involved both guerrilla and conventional warfare, as well as acts of terrorism and human rights abuses, and cost the military nearly 30,000 killed; since the end of the war, a large portion of the Army reportedly remains deployed in the majority Tamil-populated northern and eastern provinces; the military over the past decade also has increased its role in a range of commercial sectors including agriculture, hotels, leisure, and restaurants 

the Army did not downsize following the LTTE war and continues to have about 20 infantry divisions, plus several independent brigades and regiments; however, in 2023 the Sri Lankan Government announced that because of the country’s financial crisis, it would slash the size of the Army by up to half by 2030; the Navy has a frigate transferred from China in 2019 and several offshore patrol ships acquired from India and the US to patrol its territorial waters; it also has a large force of small in-shore patrol and fast attack boats, largely acquired to combat the LTTE; the Air Force is small and much of its inventory is aging; it has a handful of operational fighter aircraft and a few dozen attack and multi-role helicopters

Sri Lanka traditionally has had close security ties to India; India participated in the LTTE war in 1987-1991, losing over 1,000 soldiers; the Sri Lankan and Indian militaries continue to conduct exercises together, and India trains over 1,000 Sri Lankan soldiers per year; in recent years, Sri Lanka has increased military ties with China, including acquiring military equipment, hosting naval port calls, and sending personnel to China for training (2023)

NOTE: The information regarding Sri Lanka on this page is re-published from the 2024 World Fact Book of the United States Central Intelligence Agency and other sources. No claims are made regarding the accuracy of Sri Lanka 2024 information contained here. All suggestions for corrections of any errors about Sri Lanka 2024 should be addressed to the CIA or the source cited on each page.

This page was last modified 04 May 24, Copyright © 2024 ITA all rights reserved.