Lieutenant General Daya Ratnayake assumed duties as the 20th Commander of the Sri Lanka Army today (August 01). He takes over from General Jagath Jayasuriya who is to take reins as new Chief of Defence Staff.
Major General Krishantha Silva has been appointed as the Chief of Staff of Sri Lanka Army and Major General Prasad Samarasinghe has been appointed as the Volunteer Force commandant.
Lieutenant General Daya Ratnayake had been serving as the Chief of Staff of the Sri Lanka Army since 10th January 2010 until he took office as 20th Commander of the Army on August 1, 2013, in addition to the appointment as Colonel of the Regiment of Sri Lanka Light Infantry which has 25 Battalions under its wings.
He was enlisted to the Regular Force of the Sri Lanka Army on 06 February 1980 as an Officer Cadet and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant on 18 July 1981 in the Sri Lanka Light Infantry (SLLI) Regiment.
Upon commissioning, he followed the Commando Officers Course, Infantry Young Officers Course, Battalion Support Weapon Course, Junior Command and Senior Command Courses in India, Governance and Management of Defence Course at Cranfield University, UK, Higher Level Security Studies Diploma Course and Advanced Communication Skills Course in Asia-Pacific Centre for Security Studies in Honolulu, Hawaii, USA. He also graduated from Defence Service Command and Staff College, Bangladesh, National Defence University, China and Army Intelligence School, Fort Hnachuca, Arizona, USA.
Throughout the span of his career of more than 33 years, he has taken part in many seminars, conferences, workshops and invited assignments. Lieutenant General Ratnayake outshines as one of the few Officers of the Sri Lankan Armed Forces to have completed so many local and overseas graduate study courses and diplomas. Currently, he is reading for a PhD at Kotelawala Defence University.
With wide experience and service, Lieutenant General Daya Ratnayake has held many command appointments to suit his rank and was privileged to command an Infantry Battalion and three Infantry Brigades, prior to being appointed as the General Officer Commanding (GOC) of the 23 Infantry Division which pioneered the humanitarian operations in the East. Upon conclusion of humanitarian operations, he was called upon to rehabilitate 12,000 ex-combatants, where he was appointed as the Commissioner General Rehabilitation. With transformation of the Army from warfare to peacetime roles, he using his capacity of judgement, and sense of humaneness rendered an indelible service for the field of rehabilitation, in his capacity as the Commissioner General Rehabilitation.
In addition, he has also held a variety of key staff, instructor and administrative appointments, including Commanding Officer of the Sri Lanka Military Academy, Director Media of the Sri Lanka Army and Military Spokesman for the Ministry of Defence during 2004 – September 2005.
During eastern province-based humanitarian operations, he performed an outstanding role in eliminating well-founded terrorist bases as the General Officer Commanding of 23 Division. He excelled in discharging his duties in both Sri Lanka Light Infantry Regiment and Military Intelligence Corps and had been taking part in all the major offensive operations against terrorism since 1981 up until the termination of operations in the East even having sustained battle injuries.
His exceptionally unique performances in many daunting operations in defence of the country have been well-recognized as a battlefield veteran and decorated with more than twenty gallantry and service medals, inclusive of the Weera Wickrema Vibushanaya (WWV), Rana Wickrama Padakkama (RWP) (Awarded four times for Exceptional Gallantry), Rana Sura Padakkama (RSP) (Awarded four times for Gallantry), Uththama Seva Padakkama (USP) (For distinguished conduct) and Desha Puthra Padakkama (DPP) (For wounded in combat). To this date, Lieutenant General Rathnayake as an illustrious officer par excellence in the Armed Forces of Sri Lanka, remains the one and only Officer who had been awarded Gallantry medals for the most number of times.
Lieutenant General Ratnayake, a keen athlete since his early school days after his joining the Army has carved a niche for himself in the field of sports, creating a string of hitherto unbroken and unmatched records for the Army under his able leadership ever since he took the reins of Army Sports, several years ago.
Lieutenant General Ratnayake, in addition to his contribution to the field of Army athletics, held the office of the Chairman, Defence Services Games Committee in 2011 and 2012 while still serving as President, Sri Lanka Army Sports Control Board since 2010. To his credit, he was unanimously elected to the office of the National Chairmanship in the Sri Lanka Athletics Federation in 2012 and worked hard for its promotion. He also represented Sri Lanka Army in Rugby (National Championship 1985) and was awarded the Army Colours for Rugby. In the year 2005, he was appointed Deputy Chairman Army Rugby Committee and currently serves as a council member in Sri Lanka Rugby Union.
He had been serving as the Chief of Staff of the Sri Lanka Army since 10th January 2010 until he took office as 20th Commander of the Army on August 1, 2013, in addition to the appointment as Colonel of the Regiment of Sri Lanka Light Infantry which has 25 Battalions under its wings.
Lieutenant General Daya Ratnayake is a distinguished past product of Kurunegala Maliyadeva College and is married to Priyadarshani Damayanthi and blessed with two sons and a daughter.
(Courtesy: Ada Derana)