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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2430

There could be no greater glory and honor to me, than serving the Army, I love - Lieutenant General R.M.D Ratnayake

By K.T,Rajasingham
Colombo, 02 August, (Asiantribune.com):

In a message issued by Lieutenant General R.M.D Ratnayake , he said, The Army has come a long way not only in structure, numbers and military hardware, but also in professionalism and its reputation. Sustaining the image and its dignity, gained through unparalleled sacrifice, is therefore the most sacred duty of every serving member.

He further said, unlike the most Armies, emerging from protracted and bloody conflicts which were rejected by the masses, our Army continues to receive respect and gratitude of the Nation we served, a fact that we should never forget.

It is said that there could be no greater honour and glory to a soldier than that of commanding his own Army. That stands true, but there could be no greater glory and honor to me, than serving the Army, I love.

He also added, that it is with immense pride and pleasure I issue this message to you as the 20th Commander of the Sri Lanka Army, an Army that eradicated terrorism and set an example to the world.
Given below the full text of the message delivered by the new Sri Lanka Army Chief Lieutenant General R.M.D Ratnayake:

At this memorable moment when the highest seat of office in the Army profession is vested in me during my career spanning more than 33 years, my profound and heartfelt gratitude is dedicated first of all to the President Mahinda Rajapaksa, our Commander-in-Chief who through his visionary leadership and brave courage, filled with humanity, rescued the country from brutal terrorism and who placed his faith in me when appointing me to this responsible appointment.

My next deep sense of gratitude and respect goes to Mr Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Secretary Defence and Urban Development who has all the time guided us until elevation to this highest office. Needless to mention, while giving effect to HE, the President’s thinking he is the architect of awestruck eradication of terrorism for the first time in the world.

Let me also place on record my thankfulness to all past Commanders who provided their maximum cooperation for progress of the organization since its inception. Likewise, my sincere thanks go to the former Commander, General Jagath Jayasuriya for making the Army to be what it is today as a professional one, whose untiring efforts transformed a war-fighting Army to be a peacetime one.

It is with equal honour and dignity I recall the supreme sacrifices of more than 24,000 my fellow-War Heroes, nearly 25,000 disable comrades and thousands of other proud War Heroes who defended the country’s territorial integrity, sovereignty and unitary status, and all those who provided me with necessary courage and strength until my elevation to this appointment.

My parents, teachers, brothers, sisters, relatives and close friends who have inspired me all the way deserve mention and gratitude here.

Similarly, my wife and three children always stood behind me as towers of strength and I am grateful to all of them.

I am indebted to teachers in my village school, Maliyadeva College as well as all course instructors at the Sri Lanka Military Academy for assisting me to inculcate qualities of leadership in me and laying the foundation for basic education.

Since I joined Sri Lanka Light Infantry as an energetic youth, all in the regiment as well as all ranks in the Army threw their maximum support for me to reach this highest office and all their cooperation is remembered with utmost gratitude.

Likewise, all our retired members of the Army and the civil staff members as well as family members of all of them deserve my mention here with gratitude. All your support assisted me in being appointed to this office.

At a time our motherland was on the verge of falling apart, all our comrade-soldiers in conformity with Mahinda Chinthana policies, making invaluable sacrifices, brought our beloved motherland under one flag, and now, as the fore-runner to this noble Nation’s march to be the ‘Wonder of Asia’, is engaged in a creative and balanced physical development process.

During the period beginning May 19, 2009, a marked improvement has been made in the Army structure by way of increased weapon training, re-organization to adjust current and future requirements, infrastructure, welfare and basic amenities, etc. This was spelt out by the former Commander during the Guard of Honor accorded to him earlier.

It is my contention to continue these projects that were initiated until successful completion after reaching our targeted objectives, introducing proper management. As at present, we may have to face different forms of challenges in the future, too.

\In this context, threats emanating from overseas separatist extremists are leading. Moreover, at a time we, as a unified country are heading for speedy social and economic stability with courage and vigour, in search of political reconciliation, different threats against our national security could loom as new forms.

To overcome these challenges, I believe, the organization should undergo a restructuring programme, to suit to new technological needs and innovative strategies that would help to meet with those challenges, and similarly to enhance knowledge, using sea of experience acquired from the battlefields.

A fully-fledged professional Army, rich with exemplary conduct and different skills at all levels that can face any challenge at any time is the timely requirement.

To achieve aforesaid objectives, I visualize the need to follow a policy, based on national priorities, adopting a “preserve the good, discard the bad and acquire the new” approach while working in brotherhood and unity.

As at present, over a thousand of our members are deployed in UN peace-keeping missions and their service has been commended by both UN officers and other foreign officers. It is my intention to further expand this project and enable more and more members to serve such peace-keeping missions by implementing necessary plans while providing guidance and leadership in this direction.

Today’s Army is not simply a labor force but a motivated, diverse and qualitatively productive, “human resource” and I firmly believe our human resource as a formidable strength could add a special value to national development as members from the most disciplined and well-organized workforce in the country.

Management of resources in the future will play a critical role as national priorities may take precedence with eventual budgetary constraints. Therefore, management of resources to optimize utility is essential and wastage minimized. Our human resource remains our greatest strength and all attempts should therefore be directed to nurture, upgrade and employ all of them gainfully.

Training in all levels is required to achieve desired objectives and improve the quality of our human resources. The Officer, Other Rank, and civilians alike require training and education to function productively in this post-war age of development and reconciliation. Our skillful leaders at all levels have served the Nation well and delivered the military objective as and when demanded. Therefore, educating of leaders and equipping them with the right knowledge to take on the challenges in post-conflict Sri Lanka, is a priority that should continue unabated. This education should be replete with promotion of values, attitudes, ethical qualities, cultural ethos, trilingual approach, practical military training, IT and computer knowledge and national consciousness. This aspect will be prioritized improving basic infrastructure facilities in the future under my guidance.

Efforts of the President, Secretary Defence and the Nation at large distinctively support towards the welfare of the officers and soldiers of the Army in general, and those KIA and the disable in particular, and that itself is a continuing appreciative process even after four years.

I take this opportunity to applaud the efforts of the Defence Ministry’s “Api Wenuwen Api” and “Mihindu Seth Medura” projects, launched as a conceptual notion of the Secretary Defence, and former Commander of the Army for construction of wellness resorts, like “Abimansala” and other holiday projects. It is my view that welfare demands a holistic approach, integrating all efforts towards recipients, including those Killed In Action, disabled, serving and the retired. Our commitment to the welfare of the retired should be equal to the task, not forgetting the fact that they too were a part of this victory.

Accommodation, quality food, dress and facilities refine the exemplary image of “soldiering” and these areas need to be further addressed. I assure you that your welfare will continue to be taken care of with greater vigour.

The Seva Vanitha Army Branch has been rendering a commendable role as regards welfare, and in my opinion, this wing should be more focused on ‘the housewife’ and her ‘role’ as ‘wife or mother’. In the backdrop of this approach, I expect to re-evaluate the Seva Vanitha mandate in the future.

Therefore, we need to adapt and change effectively to meet post-conflict and development challenges of the Nation. Likewise, our efficiency with acquired capabilities in disaster relief operations, civil-military relations, Information Technology, new fighting strategies and enhancement of welfare modules, need to be further strengthened to achieve our objectives.

Our members since the inception of the Army have made great strides in the field of sports after winning international and national accolades. It is with pride I recall here it is solely the Army members who won Olympic Medals in the Para Olympic Games. However, due to workload in the recent past, we have to admit without argument that we experienced a certain setback in the field of sports. It is therefore important that our sports be once again elevated to meet with international standards, prompting our members to bring more laurels home, and I am happy to note that necessary arrangements in this regard have already been set in motion, further expanding horizons of sports in the Army.

The Army has come a long way not only in structure, numbers and military hardware, but also in professionalism and its reputation. Sustaining the image and its dignity, gained through unparalleled sacrifice, is therefore the most sacred duty of every serving member.

My command philosophy is made up of strengths of all the units to undertake assignments and duties through decisive and clear guidance. Similarly, guidance is available to you at all times for decisive action on your part, I wish to remind.

Unlike the most Armies, emerging from protracted and bloody conflicts which were rejected by the masses, our Army continues to receive respect and gratitude of the Nation we served, a fact that we should never forget.

It is said that there could be no greater honour and glory to a soldier than that of commanding his own Army. That stands true, but there could be no greater glory and honour to me, than serving the Army, I love.

Before I conclude this message at this special moment of my professional life, let me have your attention on a quote from our courageous Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces.

“It is our heroic soldier, endowed with love, compassion, empathy and loving-kindness who defeated brutal and inhuman terrorism, founded on notions of hatred, jealousy, revenge and reproach through humanitarian operations while shouldering rescued civilians on one hand, and holding a weapon on the other one.”

All the Best to Everyone !

May Triple Gem bless you !

- Asian Tribune -

Lieutenant General R.M.D Ratnayake
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