September 22, 2021
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    Recognition and respect for gallant soldiers

    August 31, 2019

    President Maithripala Sirisena took a series of steps to provide due respect, honour and recognition to gallant officers of the Sri Lanka Armed Forces. Earlier this month, he awarded the highest honourary military ranks to Former Navy Commander Admiral Wasantha Karannagoda and former Commander of Sri Lanka Air Force Air Chief Marshal Roshan Gunathilake. The President awarded the honourary military ranks in an extraordinary gazette notification. Karannagoda was promoted as the Admiral of the Fleet while Gunathilake was promoted as Marshal of the Air Force.
    With this development, Karannagoda and Gunathilake have been placed on the same level in the military hierarchy as former Army Commander Sarath Fonseka who was placed as the first Field Marshal of Sri Lanka by President Sirisena in 2015. While Fonseka commanded the Army, Karannagoda and Gunathilake led the Navy and the Air Force during the final phase of the war against the LTTE in 2009.
    The same Gazette notification to announce the promotion of Admiral Karannagoda to Admiral of the Fleet and Air Vice Marshal Roshan Goonethilake to the rank of Marshal of the Air Force stated that the President gave the award for their outstanding performance and service to the Nation during the war against the LTTE.
    Former Army Commander Sarath Fonseka, who led the Army during the final stages of the war against the LTTE, was promoted as General following the defeat of the LTTE and then Field Marshal.The recognition and promotion as Field Marshal were bestowed on Sarath Fonseka for meticulously planning the military campaign for the destruction of the LTTE, commanding the force, supplying the required armoured vehicles and artillery, moving the infantry regiments from all directions, wresting back the northern lands from the LTTE and eliminating the dreaded terrorists.
    New Army Commander
    The services rendered by Admiral Wasantha Karannagoda include, gathering intelligence information’s about the domestic and international armed ships of the LTTE, chasing the floating armouries of the LTTE and destructing them in deep-sea, suppressing the LTTE’s international arm supplies and sustaining the authority of the sea with a limited naval boats and destroying LTTE arms and Sea Tigers’ positions.
    Air Chief Marshal Roshan Gunathilake has been credited with using the limited aircraft, commanding his officers in the right direction, targeting the secret and hidden platoons of the Tigers and supplying the necessary firepower to the infantry regiments, saving the wounded, attacking the Sea Tiger boats and suppressing the power of the enemy.
    Earlier this month, President Sirisena appointed Army Chief of Staff Major General Shavendra Silva the Commander of Sri Lanka Army. He was appointed as the 23rd Commander of the Army after being promoted to the rank of Lieutenant-General. He succeeds another great soldier, Lieutenant General Mahesh Senanayake.
    Shavendra Silva was appointed to the post despite concerns raised over the risk his appointment may pose to Sri Lanka’s cooperation with UN peacekeeping operations and the defence cooperation between Sri Lanka and the US. Lieutenant General Silva was the Chief of Staff, Colonel of the Regiment, Gajaba Regiment and Colonel of the Regiment, Commando Regiment at the time he was appointed Army Commander. During his exemplary career spanning over 34 years, he has held a number of key positions in the organisation and carved a name for himself as one of the few battle-hardened Army warriors who were at the forefront of the battlefield and defended the country’s territorial integrity together with his troops before May 2009.
    Lieutenant General Silva was the Ambassador and Deputy Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the United Nations in New York during 2010-2015. He was the Alternative Representative of Sri Lanka to the United Nations Special Political and Decolonisation Committee from 2010 to 2015.
    While writing about the valiant soldiers who served the Motherland with excellence, one cannot forget the names of General Denzil Kobbekaduwa, Gen Hamilton Wanasinghe, Maj Gen Wijaya Wimalaratne, Admiral Ravi Wijegunaratne, Admiral Sirimevan Ranasinghe, Major Gen Jagath Dias, Maj Gen Sathyapriya Liyanage, Maj Gen Kamal Gunaratne and other heroic battalion leaders who fought and defeated the most ruthless terrorist outfit the world ever witnessed.
    Gen Kobbekaduwa, having engaged the enemy in many fronts as General Officer Commanding Northern Area, was planning the invasion of the Jaffna Peninsula, when he was killed in a landmine blast at Aeraly Point in Kayts Island. News of this tragic death spread like wildfire across the nation and Sri Lanka mourned her valiant son.
    General Hamilton Wanasinghe Mawatha
    One of the first functions new Army Commander Gen Shavendra Silva participated was to name a road in honour of former Army Commander Hamilton Wanasinghe who held the post of Defence Secretary for several years. General Hamilton Wanasinghe together with the Army Commander Lieutenant General Shavendra Silva unveiled the name board of the road. General Wanasinghe rendered an invaluable service to the motherland as a full-pledged military officer for more than 40 years. He was honoured on Saturday (24) evening when the main patch of road between Malwana and Dompe, which is his residential area, was named as ‘General Hamilton Wanasinghe Mawatha’.

    The naming ceremony organised in collaboration with the Sri Lanka Army and the State Defence Ministry was graced by Defence State Minister Ruwan Wijewardene, General Hamilton Wanasinghe, Army Commander Lt. General Shavendra Silva and senior military officers.
    General Hamilton Wanasinghe was the 11th Army Commander. After his retirement, he held several key positions including Joint Operations Commander and the Secretary of Defence. He was physically present and oversaw many crucial battles including Vadamarachchi Operation, defeat of LTTE at the Elephant Pass and recapture of Jaffna. He retired from the post in 1995.
    President Sirisena presented ‘Rana Parashuwa’ and the ‘Regimental Rana Purashuwa’ to the Sri Lanka Army Special Forces earlier this month. This was the first time such an award was introduced in the Special Forces. At the award presentation of the President’s and Regimental Colours presentation, President expressed his gratitude the first Commander of Special Forces, Major Gen (Rtd.) Gamini Hettiarachchi. The President also inquired into the welfare of the family members of late Colonel Fazly Laphir, the pioneer second-in-command of Special Forces who made the supreme sacrifice.Speaking at the presentation, President Sirisena said the entire nation is grateful to Armed Forces for safeguarding the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Sri Lanka.

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