‘Our prime responsibility should ensure that all measures are adopted to win hearts and minds of Northern civilians without letting them return to the LTTE again, and prevent the recurrence of terrorism as members of a full-fledged professional Army serving Wanni,’ so said Mr Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Secretary Defence and Urban Development Thursday (23) morning when he spoke to a section of all ranks at the Security Forces Headquarters - Wanni (SFHQ-W).
The visiting Mr Gotabaya Rajapaksa, together with the Commander of the Army, Lieutenant General Jagath Jayasuriya was in Wanni to attend a few ceremonies at Saliyapura Gajaba Regiment (GR) Regimental Headquarters and address the troops in the SFHQ-W after reviewing different roles of the Army in the post-war Wanni.
‘Unlike during the times of military operations, you have now time to further improve your professional standards with proper training. The success we achieved over terrorism can be made more meaningful when the world is convinced of our soldiers’ exceptional professional standards and their disciplined dedication for the betterment of civilians, to whom they are serving. I know that you have already launched numerous housing, agricultural, medical, etc projects for the benefit of respective civilians in your areas of responsibility. We have a bigger responsibility now than ever before towards our society and the quantum of such responsibilities continues to soar day by day. As well-disciplined and professionally-qualified members of an Army, we should remain committed to the development of the country since the culmination of the war marked a turning point. We also should be sensitive to the needs of the civilians as well as the security concerns,’ Mr Rajapaksa added.
Highlighting the series of welfare projects that have been launched by MoD and respective services for the sake of service personnel, Mr Rajapaksa said all measures are being taken to set up accommodation and all infrastructure facilities inside permanent camps, giving priority to basic needs of all ranks. In addition, a large number of welfare projects are in place at unit, regiment, headquarter levels for all ranks. Schools with unmatched facilities have already been built at Colombo and Kurunegala for children of War Hero families.
‘Next week, two more projects with sixty and one hundred houses are to be launched in Gampaha and Ratnapura areas respectively. Scholarships are awarded to children of Ranaviru families. In this way, we will do the utmost to promote livelihood of our Armed Forces,’ he assured.
As you all know, you should give priority to security and don’t forget the fact that our country lies in a strategically and geographically important location, compared to other nations in the world, Defence Secretary reminded.
‘Time has also come to have all service personnel engaged in different sports, games, hobbies, entertainment and other rest and recreation activities during leisure, perhaps among units, regiments, divisions, brigades, etc. You brought terrorism to an end at the expense of lives, legs and limbs and numerous sacrifices,’ he said.
By gaining professional standards we can tell the international community that we are a disciplined and committed outfit, though some of them from time to time try to demean our forces, in support of various allegations, made at international forums by certain sections with vested interests. By displaying our magnanimity as professional soldiers when dealt with civilian-oriented projects, we all be able to carry the correct picture to the world, Mr Rajapaksa added.
Major General A.K.S Perera, Commander, SFHQ-W received Mr Rajapaksa on arrival at the SFHQ-W premises, in the company of the new Wanni Commander-designate Major General Boniface Perera. A Guard of Honour plus a parade greeted the visiting Secretary Defence and Urban Development before he met all General Officers Commanding, Brigade Commanders, Unit Commanders at the SFHQ-W auditorium where he received a comprehensive update in the Wanni region.