Major General Santhusitha Dhammika Pananwala is a product of Ananda College, Colombo. He was a College Prefect. He played Rugger and represented school at all age groups and represented the University of Colombo. He captained the 2nd XV team for the school and the University of Colombo and has received colours.
He was enlisted to the Sir John Kotelawala Defence Academy (KDA) under Intake III on 03 August 1982. As a Service Cadet at KDA, he was also privileged to pursue undergraduate degree at the University of Colombo.
He opted to join the Corps of Engineers and was posted to the 1st Field Engineers Regiment as a 2nd Lieutenant. He commanded all three Field Squadrons, Plant Squadron and became the Second in Command at 6 Sri Lanka Engineers (RFT). Thereafter, he served as the Squadron Commander of (EOD) Explosive Ordinance Disposal Squadron. As a Commanding Officer, he commanded 8 Sri Lanka Engineers (RFT) in Kokkuthuduwai and the 1st Field Engineer Regiment respectively. In addition, he has served as the Commanding Officer of the Independent Workshop.
He commanded 524 Infantry Brigade at Point Pedro as the Brigade Commander. Thereafter, he served as an Area Commander at Area Head Quarters Diyatalawa; Commander 643 Infantry Brigade at Mutthiyankattu; General Officer Commanding of 64 Infantry Division at Oddusuddan and General Officer Commanding of 23 Infantry Division at Punani.
As a senior staff officer, he has held General Staff Officer I (Ops) at 55 Infantry Division; General Staff Officer I (Coord) at Army Command and Staff College; General Staff Officer I (Plans) at the Army Headquarters; Colonel General Staff at HQ 52 Infantry Division and HQ 11 Division; Regimental Center Commandant of the Commando Regiment; Director Veteran Affairs at the Directorate of Veteran Affairs and Director/Director General Staff Duties at Directorate of Staff Duties at Army Headquarters.
He has built his capacity by attending several courses overseas. He attended Engineer Young Officers Course in India; Mid Carrier Course in Pakistan; Combined Officers Bomb Disposal Course in India; Senior Command Course in India; Strategic Studies Course for Near East South Asia at NDU Washington DC USA; (vi) Peace Support Operations Instructor Course in Indonesia and National Security and War Course at NDU in Islamabad Pakistan and declared an "Outstanding Honour Graduate" because of his exceptional performance during the course.
In addition, Major General Santhusitha Pananwala has followed and completed under mentioned programmes:
a. Diploma in Senior Level Defence Management Course at Indore University in India.
b. Bachelor of Arts Degree at the University of Colombo.
c. Post Graduate Diploma in Diplomacy and World Affairs at the Bandaranaike International Diplomatic Training Institution.
d. Post Graduate in Human Resources Management (PGDHRM) at the University of Colombo.
e. Master of Science (MSc) programme at the National Defence University Islamabad Pakistan. His submitted research paper was on "An Examination of the Role of Security Forces in the Nation Building of Post Conflict Sri Lanka".
f. Program on Modern Concepts of Organizational and Project Management in Naresuan University Thailand (2016).
g. At present, he is pursuing Master of Business Administration (MBA) from Anglia Ruskin University United Kingdom (2016/2017).
Major General Santhusitha Pananwala has been awarded with "Rana Sura Padakkama" (RSP) thrice for his acts of bravery as a Troop/Squadron Commander and the "Desha Puthra Sammanaya" for Wounded in Action.