In a historic move, the 72nd Anniversary of the Sri Lanka Army aka the Army Day (10 October) granted 567 Officers and 10,368 Other Ranks a promotion with the approval of the President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces on the recommendation of General Shavendra Silva, Chief of Defence Staff and Commander of the Army and the Ministry of Defence.
Accordingly, 8 Senior Brigadiers to the rank of Major General, 17 Colonels to the rank of Brigadier, 42 Lieutenant Colonels to the rank of Colonel, 60 Majors to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, 256 Captains to the rank of Major, 10 Lieutenants to the rank of Captain, 152 2nd Lieutenants to the rank of Lieutenant and 22 Probation Officers commissioned to the rank of Lieutenant (QM) in total receive these Army Day promotions on 10 October 2021.
The Sri Lanka Army after General Shavendra Silva took the mantle of the Army Command on 18 August 2019 joins history once again by granting the highest-ever number of promotions to both Officers and Other Ranks in the organization within a short period of two years after his assumption of office.
Unprecedented in its history of 72 years, a record number of 3873 promotions to Officers and 78,707 promotions to Other Ranks including today’s ones have been granted to-date after 18 August 2019.
General Shavendra Silva, Chief of Defence Staff and Commander of the Army in his Army Day Message (October 10) the 72nd Anniversary Day assures that the Army would forge ahead with more vigour, dedication and enthusiasm in order to present the Nation with a ‘modern’ soldier who would be better equipped with knowledge, skill and professionalism to meet with any challenge in future.
Here follows the full text of his message:
MESSAGE OF THE CHIEF OF DEFENCE STAFF AND COMMANDER OF THE ARMY ON 72ND ARMY DAY
As the Chief of Defence Staff and Commander of the Army, I am overwhelmingly pleased to convey this message at this historical milestone where the Sri Lanka Army is proudly celebrating the 72nd Anniversary of its victorious journey.
We are proud citizens of Mother Sri Lanka, which has been resilient in the wake of many crises, including natural disasters, terrorism, extremism, and separatism. In these greater upheavals, Sri Lanka Army has been the principal player that ensured the country is always restored, the rule of law is upheld, the democracy strengthened, and the nation’s security and its people is enshrined. During the 72 years of history, Sri Lanka Army has proved its credentials as the ‘Protectors of the Nation and its People’ by being the first respondent force and the most efficient, effective and credible human capital to fight national crises.
On this memorable day, I pay my highest reverence and salute to the daring and zealous Officers and Soldiers of the Sri Lanka Army who had no reservation in sacrifying their limbs, eyes, ears and even the lives for the future of the motherland, for the generations to be born and for the safety of our citizens during this 72 years of journey. Today, with a deep sense of honour, I recall the noble sacrifice of Officers, Other Ranks and Civil Staff of the Sri Lanka Army and pray for them to meet with the Supreme Bliss of Nibbana, or the Eternal Peace as they believed. Also, with heartfelt gratitude, I pay my deepest respect to Officers, Other Ranks and Civil Staff of the Sri Lanka Army, who were wounded during the gallant endeavour of safeguarding the motherland, and I wish speedy recovery for the officers and soldiers who are still undergoing treatment.
The honour, fame, and most importantly, trust of the general public towards the Sri Lanka Army as the saviour of the country from all conundrums was not achieved overnight. The technical, conceptual, and moral advancement of the Sri Lanka Army we experience today is the outcome of the efforts of great people who served in this prestigious organisation up to date. With deep respect, I admire the contribution, devotion, and leadership of the great personalities who commanded the Sri Lanka Army during the past 72 years. Further, I appreciate the prodigious service rendered by the retired Senior Officers, Other Ranks and Civil Staff for the development and advancement of the Sri Lanka Army.
During 72 years of journey, the Sri Lanka Army has been the frontier force to preserve national interests under many challenges. The primacy given to the Sri Lanka Army in every crisis and the entrustment of the Sri Lanka Army in fighting every threat reflects that Sri Lanka Army is the most credible and reliable instrument in preserving national security. In every natural or artificial disaster, the Sri Lanka Army has been the first respondent and the principal-agent to shoulder the national responsibility in safeguarding our citizens. In this venture, I pay my profound honour and gratitude to His Excellency Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the President of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, firstly for the inspirational devotion rendered in the capacity of Secretary Defence to end the 30 years prolonged LTTE conflict through Humanitarian Operation, secondly for keeping the trust on the Sri Lanka Army to spearhead the national crises and most importantly for being the visionary leader for the Sri Lanka Army and the country to save the country whenever it is in turbulence.
With deep respect and honour, I pay my tribute to the 5th Executive President of Sri Lanka and the present Prime Minister, Honourable Mahinda Rajapaksa, for leading the entire nation to end the 30 years of conflict. Also, I pay my sincere appreciation and honour to General Kamal Gunaratne WWV RWP RSP USP ndu psc MPhil for his tremendous contribution as one of the frontline Division Commanders during the Humanitarian Operation and the support rendered towards the advancement of the Sri Lanka Army today in the capacity of Secretary of Defence.
It is common wisdom that National Security overarches not only the military threat to a sovereign nation but a broader spectrum of issues conflicting with the normalcy and advancement of the country, the citizens and their properties. Therefore, we must prepare ourselves conceptually, physically, and morally to fight an array of unprecedented and dynamic security challenges emanating from natural or artificial causes. The future threats will take the form of conventional, unconventional, unorthodox, hybrid, irregular or otherwise. Consequently, maintaining a proactive and all-inclusive force to meet multifaceted threats is even more challenging. Therefore, training of force components capable and flexible enough to swap between different tasks has become indispensable to maintain our preparedness and operational readiness in this dynamic operational environment. We have been able to publish the Sri Lanka Army ‘Way Forward Strategy 2020-2025’ that provides the guidance to draw programmes and actions to modify, reshape and uplift the competencies of each force component to meet tomorrow’s demands. Also, the training curriculum of the Sri Lanka Army has been reoriented to bridge the physical components with the renewed strategies and concepts to nurture a ready, reliable, relevant, resilient and respectable Sri Lanka Army. Therefore, I urge trainers, directors and commanders at all levels to educate and inculcate the concept of the modern soldier in every member of the Sri Lanka Army.
As the most significant human capital of the country, the Sri Lanka Army has a vested interest in safeguarding the citizens’ lives and properties every time. I take this opportunity to pay my heartiest accolade for the exceptional commitment and dedication of the Officers and Other Ranks of the Sri Lanka Army during the Battle against the COVID 19 Pandemic and their untiring effort to protect our citizens from this deadly virus. It is noteworthy to say that the arduous members of the Sri Lanka Army who toiled in the field during the pandemic are the decisive factor in curbing the virus and achieving success. Sri Lanka Army has played an instrumental role in building and maintaining quarantine centres and vaccination drives and maintaining essential services to the affected citizens. We have played the major role in uplifting the hospital capacities in the wake of the COVID 19 spread, where the Sri Lanka Army repaired, modified and fabricated more than 25,000 hospital beds for COVID 19 victims only within three days to save the lives of our citizens. Sri Lanka Army introduced the concept of Intermediate Care Centres (ICC) to reduce the congestions in hospitals.
We have utilised military intelligence for contact tracing of infected persons, which was the decisive reason behind the success. Sri Lanka Army was the frontier contributor for COVID 19 vaccination process by running island-wide vaccination centres to speed up the vaccination process. For the first time in the world, Sri Lanka Army launched a 24 hour active mobile vaccination service to vaccinate the citizens who have difficulties in reaching vaccination centres. We are appraised by the citizens in the country and abroad, where we have been able to consolidate in the hearts and minds of the citizens as the most competent, confident, professional and disciplined government servants in the country.
As the Commander of the Sri Lanka Army, I take pride in stating that we have well-justified His Excellency the President’s choice to entrust Sri Lanka Army to spearhead the national endeavour for fighting the COVID 19 menace in Sri Lanka. Therefore, I extend the highest tribute for the exuberant, loyal and filial devotion towards our state and people on behalf of the members of the Sri Lanka Army.
I would also commend our great people who endured many difficulties and supported the Sri Lanka Army in discharging our duties during this endeavour. In addition, Sri Lanka Army has reserved exceptional respect from the populace by contributing to community-related undertakings, such as island-wide housing projects, community development projects and provision of scholarships to needy students in Sri Lanka, etc. I sincerely hope such endeavours will be continued with more vigour in time to come.
The year passed was undoubtedly challenging; however, these challenges sharpened the Sri Lanka Army’s capabilities, competencies and skills. Also, the year added many novel experiences to us than any other army would get in any other time. Sometimes we trudged, sometimes we kept the phase, and sometimes we sprinted amidst many environmental, budgetary and operational constraints. Yet, it is nice to turn back and see that the Army has advanced and readjusted strategically, conceptually, physically, and technologically as anticipated by the Sri Lanka Army ‘Way Forward Strategy 2020-2025’. We have proved that the Sri Lanka Army is conversant with not only the military operational tasks, but also with a much broader spectrum of interventions pertaining to National Security, nation-building and advancement of Mother Sri Lanka. We have been able to multiply our force with a fully-fledged Reserve Strike Corps, Engineer Division, Agricultural and Livestock Corps, a dedicated brigade for disaster response under 58 Division and a Drone Regiment to befit the Sri Lanka Army in undertaking an array of operational and non-operational tasks to fulfil its role to the motherland.
It has been an extraordinary period that the Sri Lanka Army has seen enormous leaps in technology and innovations. We have saved a substantial amount of public funds through initiatives, such as production of Unibaffles in support of UN Peacekeeping Operations in Mali. Further, we have strengthened the Army vehicle fleet by reinventing and repairing Land Rovers, Land Cruisers out of condemned vehicles. Also, maintaining and running the software operation of National Driving Licence printing is another important leap that saves a considerable amount of public money. We have strengthened His Excellency, the President’s ‘Vistas for Prosperity and Splendour Agenda’ by shouldering the nation-building tasks such as construction, renovation and rebuilding of schools and playgrounds, construction of overhead bridges, construction of roads, renovation of water resources, renovation of public buildings and infrastructures, jogging tracks and recreational facilities, etc. Also, through the agricultural initiative in conjunction with national agrarian programmes, the Sri Lanka Army has contributed to the national economy.
The Sri Lanka Army has been a frontier in preserving the environment through projects such as ‘Thuru Mithuru Nava Ratak’, from which forest density of the country throughout the island is being systematically increased to bestow a greener environment to our future generations. Further, we have actively contributed to prevent atrocities against the environment through limited and pacification operations in support of law enforcement agencies for the benefit of our generations to come.
I take pride to commend the professionalism and standards portrayed by Sri Lanka Army UN Peacekeeping Forces, keeping the Sri Lankan Flag flying high among UN force contributing countries. The arduous service extended by Sri Lanka UN Peacekeeping forces in Mali and Lebanon in a tensed operational environment and the competencies and discipline displayed therein deserves special accolade from the entire nation. I pay my sincere gratitude to Sri Lankan UN Peacekeeping Forces for representing Sri Lanka being ambassadors to convince the entire world of the humanity, discipline, and professional touchstones of the Sri Lankan Armed Forces.
I wish the same spirit would be preserved, maintained and further nurtured by our forces deploying in future.
In this historic milestone, I pay my sincere respect for the victories achieved by Sri Lanka Army personnel in the field of sports during the past 72 years. The Sri Lanka Army has reaped success from its new initiative to uplift the sports facilities of the members. With immense pride and a sense of gratitude I congratulate the athlete who secured the first-ever Paralympic gold medal to Sri Lanka in the javelin event, and equally pay my tribute to the bronze medallist in Tokyo Paralympic 2020 in javelin throw, representing the Sri Lanka Army. Also, I would like to commend the Sri Lanka Army cultural team who achieved the ‘Grand Prix Award’ at the ‘Army Games 2021 – Moscow’.
Today, we have manoeuvred victoriously in the local and international sports arena where the Sri Lanka Army has the pride of producing all two Olympic silver medallists, the only Paralympic gold medallist and three Paralympic bronze medallists of Sri Lanka. With pride, I remind Sri Lanka Army sportsmen and sportswomen constituted more than 75% of the South Asian Games Contingent, in which the Sri Lanka Army has secured the majority of medals by winning 19 gold medals, 29 silver medals, and 37 bronze medals. In addition, I congratulate the victory achieved by three of our soldiers in the World Team Cup Wheelchair Tennis Tournament in Italy this year. I would encourage the members of the Sri Lanka Army to triumph in the sports field by capitalizing on the modern infrastructure facilities, equipment, local and foreign training opportunities, and the opportunities provided to you to be trained with sportsmen and women of the civil sector.
The development of the Sri Lanka Army and the Wellbeing of the Member Community has been one of the priority objectives of the Sri Lanka Army. Towards this end, technology and modern concept inclusive programmes and initiatives have been started to uplift and modernize the infrastructure facilities of installations, the welfare of members, training, sports and recreation facilities.
The concept of ‘House for all Army Members’ is one of our key priorities in the time to come. In that, the plans are underway to introduce a novel welfare loan system for our members through national banks. We have given special care and consideration to ensure the wellbeing of the retired and injured members of the Sri Lanka Army, as well as for looking after the family members of our Fallen War Heroes.
It must be specially mentioned that the Army has taken measures, under the direction of His Excellency the President and abreast with the government’s policies to ensure that differently-able war heroes are well taken care of in recognition of their incomparable sacrifices for the nation. With sincere gratitude, I admire the tremendous service rendered by the President and the members of the Army Seva Vanitha Unit to uplift the living standards of the serving, retired, and their family members of the Sri Lanka Army. Also, with much gratitude, I recall the excellent service rendered by the Army Seva Vanitha Unit in safeguarding the lives of Sri Lankan citizens, being a force behind the force to the Sri Lanka Army. Further, it is with a satiated feeling I remind that we will be able to enhance the much-needed medical facilities for serving, retired and family members of serving and served members of the Army by augmenting the under-constructing hospital facility at Kandy and new facilities under construction at the Colombo Army Hospital with the present system. The Army Hospital under construction in Kandy, which is expected to be completed by the end of this year, will provide medical facilities for more than 40,000 serving and retired members of the Sri Lanka Army in Central and North-Western provinces.
Further, coinciding with the 72nd Anniversary of the Sri Lanka Army, 545 Officers and 10368 Other Ranks have received their promotions. Accordingly, 3851 Officers and 78707 Other Ranks have been promoted to their subsequent ranks since I assumed the office as the Commander of the Army. Also, we have been able to successfully enhance the cadre vacancy of the Volunteer Force with 07 Brigadier Ranks, 17 Colonel Ranks, and 48 Lieutenant Colonel Ranks to avoid any hurdle to career progression of the Volunteer Force Officers.
I congratulate and pay my profound gratitude for the sacrifices, made at home by family members of the Sri Lanka Army, being strength to our Army Officers, Other Ranks and Civil Staff. I earnestly remind you that they all are indispensable members of the Army family and request the family members of the Sri Lanka Army personnel to be with us and encourage your beloved ones to serve the motherland.
Finally, I offer my heartfelt congratulations and gratitude to all members of the Sri Lanka Army on this 72nd Anniversary for the tremendous service rendered throughout history amidst greater hardships, limitations and constraints to keep the Sri Lanka Army’s eminence high as a ready, reliable, resilience, relevant and respectable force to serve its commitment to the motherland. So far, we have been closely working together as one family to offer a better future for our citizens, and our ‘Unity’ has been the strength and the decisive factor for elevating the Sri Lanka Army as a force of ‘Nothing Impossible’. Therefore, I earnestly request to continue with the same or improved unity, energy and vigour, shouldering the responsibilities, duties and obligations as the ‘Defenders of the Nation and its People’, so that health, happiness, prosperity and advancement of our motherland would be guaranteed. (Ends)