Colourful Army Flags Fluttering in the Sea Breeze Herald a New Era on 70th Army Anniversary Day

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Galle Face green Thursday morning (10) amid a mammoth gathering of distinguished invitees, state officials, past Commanders, veterans, spouses stood adorned with fluttering Army flags for a couple of hours when nearly a column of 2,000 troops rolled across the esplanade and saluted the day’s Chief Guest, Lieutenant General Shavendra Silva, Commander of the Army who arrived there to mark the historic 70th Army Anniversary, organized in an unprecedented scale.

As the clock struck 9.00 am, all were set to greet the Commander of the Army to a red carpet welcome as all eyes were glued to the troops and colour squads marching into the parade ground. The day’s itinerary got to a start with hoisting of the Army Flag by the day’s Chief Guest and the recitation of the Army song as everyone rose to their feet. The two-minute silence that followed afterwards in solemn moment of gratitude venerated the memory of fallen War Heroes who sacrificed their lives for defence of the motherland.

Next, was the commencement of the ceremonial parade, comprised of Colour squads,
Presidential Truncheons, President’s ‘Rana Parashuwa’ (Hatchet), Presidential Colours,
Mascot of the Sri Lanka Light Infantry, etc and led by the Parade Commander, Major
General Vijitha Ravipriya while artillery guns, armoured vehicles and tanks stood
magnificently on one side of the esplanade.After reporting the parade, the Commander on the special dais was then invited to review the colourful Guard of Honour after the formal salute as patriotic melodies, played by Army bands begain renting the air.

Elegantly-attired day’s protaganist accompanied by the Adjutant General and the Parade
Commander in conformity with military traditions closely inspected the four-digit number
troops of all 24 Regiments of the Army, all of them with their respective Colour Squads
before the salute was taken by the Commander from the special dais. The stage was then set for the Commander’s monumental and landmark speech that heralds a new era of hope and career prospects for all in the Army.

“I must reveal that instructions, related to grant your professional promotions in right time
have already been issued with necessary guidelines to relevant sections. Specially, on this
historic milestone anniversary day, I am glad to announce that a total of 210 Officers have
been promoted from Second Lieutenant (3) to the rank of Lieutenant, Lieutenant (17) to the rank of Captain, Captain (15) to the rank of Major, Major (40) to the rank of Lieutenant
Colonel and a total of 7,000 Other Ranks to their next rank for the first time in the Army
history on this day of 70th Anniversary.” (See full speech in Highlight 1 and below this story) The day’s proceedings as well as Lieutenant General Silva’s eloquence that set out his intended future goals for the Army added a high degree of magnificence and majesty, perhaps unseen in the contemporary times after the Victory Parade in 2009.

On the other hand, the entire spectacle of the day, unprecedented in magnitude too bore all the hallmarks of a fitting tribute to the cherished memories of our past War Heroes, disabled War Heroes and thousands of serving Officers and Other Ranks who are looked upon as the country’s most-sought service providers in our land.

Being the country’s oldest and the largest organization which triumphantly eliminated the
world’s ruthless terrorists from the soil, perhaps that itself a‘world record’ too, the Sri Lanka Army as a full fledged professional outfit boasts a service that covers a wide range of nation-building and community-oriented humanitarian de-mining, disaster relief, construction, environmental protection projects, etc and is the first to respond whenever the country’s security or ordinary life is faced with threats. The entire series of 70th Army Day commemorative events, meticulously put in place by the Adjutant General’s Branch and the Directorate of Personnel Administration began in earnest in the final week of September under the close supervision and guidance of the incumbent  Commander of the Army giving pride of place to multi – religious observances and offerings. Acting Secretary of Defence Mr. Anuradha Wijekoon, Mrs. Laly Kobbekaduwa, Mrs. Vijaya Wimalarathne, Mrs Sujeewa Nelson, President Army Seva Vanitha Unit, past Commanders, retired Senior Officers, Chief of Staff, Major General Sathyapriya Liyanage, invitees and a mammoth gathering of Officers and Other Ranks were associated with the day’s ceremony at Galle Face.

Here follows the full speech of the Commander of the Army;

On this dignified occasion, let me mention briefly the proud history of the Sri Lanka Army. It is with great respect, I remember here the Senior Officer, Brigadier Roderick Sinclair who
was the first Commander of the Army after Sri Lanka gained independence from the British
rule. The Army, in which I myself have been a proud product during its eventful life-span of
70 years, commanded by 22 respective Commanders, continues its dedicated and unswerving mission braving all challenges and take pride in addressing you as the 23rd Commander of the Army.

Giving pride of place for multi religious observances, we ceremonially commemorated this
70th anniversary, for which I owe a special word of thanks and appreciation at this occasion to all those who toiled for its success. I am grateful and very pleased for the confidence HE the President cum Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces placed specially in me by awarding me the highest and the most responsible office in the Sri Lanka Army.
In the same way, HE Maithripala Sirisena, President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed
Forces who through his visionary leadership provides guidance for the forward-march of the Army, Hon Ruwan Wijewardena, State Minister of Defence and Secretary Defence, General (Retd) Shantha Kottegoda are remembered with respect at this milestone 70th Army Day commemoration. I feel it a special privilege for me to be able to take part in this colourful parade for the first time as the 23rd Commander of the Army on the commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the Sri Lanka Army. I also pay my sincere thankfulness to all those who presented today’s colourful parade with high physical standards and also to both Adjutant General and the Director Personnel Administration of the Army and their staff for the meticulous arrangements in place.

Sri Lanka Army in the past 70 years as the Defender of the Nation in the face of numerous
challenges and threats, posed against the country, her people, her sovereignty and territorial integrity fulfilled an arduous role and is still performing an immense task for protection of human lives. We must contribute to the achievement of sustainable development goals having overcome prevailing challenges and accelerating the national development objectives. I opine that the Army should be reorganized as a better professionally organized outfit in compliance with fast changing social security needs while reinforcing the notion of national security further. Likewise, I as the Commander of the Army set out my future vision based on four major pillars of concern; i.e strict enforcement of national security, security of the people, well-being and advancement of the Army and welfare and progress of the Army community are among those priorities.

We must unfailingly be dedicated to safeguard the security of the country since it is the
prioritized role of any army. Through that, space could be created for dawn of a social
surrounding, devoid of suspicion or fear. By making the soldier a full-fledged one through
training and improvement of skills and knowledge, any unexpected threat as a country could be effectively countered. For that all of us must be well-prepared.
Moreover, my special attention has been focused on the promotion of the Army’s forward-
march by taking necessary policy decisions with a view to raising the qualitative aspect of the Army. On the other hand, improvement of welfare facilities as well as provision of all needs for effective performance of duties would help everyone to perform their roles with
contentment, as I believe. Accordingly, I have also proposed seven concepts that could contribute to realization and empowerment of those objectives. Namely, National Security, Contribution to Nation-Building and Reconciliation, Enhancement of skills and educative programmes of Army personnel, Promotion of professional conduct of all ranks, Provision of vocational training for potential retirees during pre-retirement period, Enhancement of Welfare facilities for Officers and Other Ranks, and Modernization of the Army to meet with current challenges are among those concepts. I believe the guidance, leadership and incentives, being given based on those concepts would contribute to work as a team to produce effective results.

The pioneering service rendered by Army personnel at the expense of their lives without any hesitation has contributed largely to the prevailing sustainable peace and reconciliation in the country. In the same manner, it is worth noting that the Army has immensely assisted to restore normalcy in the event of national disasters, emergencies and natural catastrophes, etc. Similarly, the Army at present is spearheading a pioneering role in the sphere of national development in our developing nation. I take this historic opportunity to pay my tribute to serving members for their commitment, dedication and enthusiasm which always go beyond the call of duty since the founding of the Army seven decades ago. Past Commanders who provided leadership to the Sri Lanka Army in the past 70 years, Senior Officers, Regimental Sergeant Majors, senior and junior Non-commissioned Officers and members of the civil staff who contributed largely to the proud Army history of 70 years are gratefully remembered along with members of their families. As of today all Sri Lankans in spirits of brotherhood and reconciliation because the Sri Lanka Army as the main stakeholder together with the help of other Armed Forces and the Police has created a conducive environment for all of us to live in peace. The responsibility for protection of future security and the country’s territorial integrity lies with Army personnel
who are now serving as the one combined largest composition of all ethnic groups, dedicated to defence of the country. It is a responsibility that befalls us today and tomorrow.

Not only that, the responsibility of protecting and taking the spirits of freedom we won ten
years ago to the future generation lies with us as members of the Army. Being always
prepared to perform any challenging task for defence of the country and her people in future too, the Army has re-endorsed that it is their most prioritized responsibility.
As at present, the Army unlike before is very much interacting with members of the civil
society in a big way. Through the ‘Vapi Sangramaya’, the Army has undertaken to renovate
and restore abandoned or dilapidated tanks for re cultivation programmes while equally
contributing to the question of global warmth via the ‘Thuruliya Wenuwen Api’, ‘Thuru
Sirasa’ reforestation and sapling planting projects for the benefit of the next generation.
These are only a couple of examples.

Particularly, in battle-effected areas the Army has taken the lead in de-mining work,
purification of drinking water resources, constructions of hospitals for improvement of
health, erection of houses as livelihood assistance, blood donation and Shramadana
campaigns etc. through which our organization has been able to foster better relations with
the civil community. Therefore, it is opportune for the Army to carry forward this civil bonds of goodwill in order to further promote those relations and the confidence the civilians have placed in us.

Whenever the nation is faced with any conflict situation, people always turn to the armed
forces because they would always like to follow only the footsteps of the course of the armed forces. Therefore, all of us should perform our duties with commitment in order to safeguard our reputation and great image. Continued training, advanced preparedness, model exercises, etc would always provide necessary guidelines to meet with any emergency without resorting to panic. For that as proud members of the Army, you must always be alert and continue to improve your conduct while working as a team of exemplary, hard-working and disciplined Army.

In any country, Tri-Services should work closely with spirits of cooperation and goodwill in
order to have the country ready for any eventualities as I believe. Likewise, we all while
preserving our age-old cultural, social and economic traditions, irrespective of race, caste or creed, should determine firmly and directly contribute to the growth of our national
development. As the Commander of the Army, it is my duty to dedicate to uplift welfare of all disabled War Heroes and family members of fallen War Heroes by further improving their life standards. I must state here that I will do my best in that direction by organizing everything possible.

At this moment, I recall the memories of all those who sacrificed their lives for the sake of
the motherland’s sustainable peace and reconciliation, including Officers, Other Ranks and
members of the civil staff. Their next of kin and family members should also be recipients of those welfare facilities during the rest of their lives. I will also ensure all requirements needed to guarantee your profession in the future and its sustenance are provided to you as members of a dignified and proud organization. Likewise, I must reveal that instructions, related to grant your professional promotions in right time have already been issued with necessary guidelines to relevant sections. Specially, on this historic milestone anniversary day, I am glad to announce that a total of 210 Officers of those for 3 Second Lieutenants to the rank of Lieutenants, 17 Lieutenants to the rank of Captains, 15 Captains to the rank of Majors, 40 Majors to the rank of Lieutenant Colonels received promotion and 7,000 Other Ranks for the first time in the Army history would receive promotions and confirmation of their ranks on this day of 70th Anniversary. That would enable all those Army personnel to sustain a sound mental disposition while further raising their capacity for performance of duties, according to my belief.

Similarly, I take this opportunity to wish all those Army members still under recuperation
having sustained injuries during the operations speedy recovery. I also wish all serving
members of the Army as well as the civil staff who are doing an invaluable service to the
organization through different fields and also their family members be well and happy.
At this proud juncture of 70 years of victorious commemoration, all Officers and All Ranks
should resolve to sustain the dignified essence of the Army in future too as the ‘Defender of
the Country and Her Citizens’. I wish all of you be blessed with all strength, courage and fortune for that mission in future too. I wish all of you a healthy future, filled with joy and peace