As Independence Day is just a few days away, members of the armed forces and the police have begun their routine drill practice. Each regiment works hard to show their prowess. One unit that has maintained an important ceremonial duty is the Sri Lanka Corps of Military Police, still referred to in the army by their old regimental name of CCMP (Ceylon Corps of Military Police). Established in October 1951 the men in the bright red tunics are seen at many state events providing escort and guard duties. Part of their routine originates from the British Army, namely, the guard mounting at the President’s House.  
The guard mounting at Buckingham Palace dates back to 1660. The men of the famous Queen’s Guards continue to draw thousands of visitors to watch their precision drill. These officers are clad in bearskin hats and red tunics and get their orders from the Field Officer in Brigade Waiting. The members of the guard perform their annual parade, The Trooping of the Colour (Queen’s Birthday). Likewise, members of the Sri Lanka Military Police also have some unique drills and traditions.  
I visited their headquarters at Polhengoda, Colombo-5 accompanied by Major N.C.Marasinghe. The familiar sight of  MP guards clad in green with their red hats and white web belts is a display of their discipline. We met up with the Centre Commandant, Colonel Sanath Podiralamie. The Colonel explains “We are proud to continue this fine ceremonial tradition, which is one of our duties apart from our role as the provost arm of the army. We form our motorcades and guard escorts as per state protocol”.  
Not every soldier can enter the CCMP. They are chosen for their height (must be 5 feet 8 inches and above) and obtain a clear security vetting. Those selected are trained with intense discipline and must enjoy team work. The men wear the red tunic and blue trousers on state occasions and officers wear ceremonial blues.   The uniform is divided into 2 sections, the President’s Scarlet and General’s Scarlet. The President’s Scarlet is indicated by gold colour shoulder mail while the General’s Scarlet uniform consists of silver colour shoulder mail. The latter uniform is worn for army ceremonies where the army commander or a senior general is present. The guards are often seen riding in ‘arrow head” formation escorting the President. The Pilot vehicle is a red jeep where a Captain sits with 4 other soldiers, followed by 2 red cars and a formation of 10 motorbikes. The CCMP motorbikes have evolved with time: they have used the Tramp 100, Honda CB 750, Royal Enfield 350, Yamaha 250 and today, ride the Suzuki 900.  
Guard mounting at the President’s House is another key duty of the guardsmen. The President’s Guard was formed in 1979.This duty is no easy task as one has to stand still like a statue for 45 minutes with a .303 rifle with fixed bayonet. It is a skill that requires training and a passion for duty. 
The guard change is done with the sergeant and two others marching to relieve the guard on duty and that guard joins the others to march back to his well earned rest. It is a beautiful display of timing and teamwork. The CCMP also performs the flag hoisting ceremony at various state events, and engages in a daily routine at the Galle Face Green. 
Here, three soldiers march and mount the steps, hoist the national flag and dismount. The flag is raised at 6 am and taken down at 6 pm. The Military Police carries out its duty with professional perfection.  


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