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27th August 2019 12:55:54 Hours

“We should not Allow Anyone to Compromise Our National Security for Any Reason,” -Commander in Maiden Address Sets Out His Vision

Lieutenant General Shavendra Silva, the new Commander of the Army in his maiden address to the Officers on Monday (26) morning at the Commander’s Secretariat at the Army Headquarters minced no words to set out his great breadth of vision for the Organization and its Modernization, National Security, Nation-Building, Reconciliation Process, Improvement of Skilled Professionalism and Career Progression, Welfare of Army members & Families, Retirement and Transition prospects as seven pillars of strength.

“In my belief, there are four areas of focus. I concentrate firstly to protect the country. Secondly, to protect the great people of this country who have a remarkable documented history. Thirdly, the development of the Army for today and for future is my priority. And fourthly looking after the well-being of all members of this organization is of paramount importance to me. During my command while concentrating on above four pillars, my strategy of developing the Army will be implemented under three consecutive stages. They will be achieved through short, medium and long term plans,” the Commander specified.

“On our way to success, there are some priorities that we need to be focused on. Our utmost priority is on National Security. We should not allow anyone to compromise our security for any reason. Our approach to ensure National Security should be highly comprehensive. In this endeavour, enhancing the fighting power, intelligence systems and technology to counter contemporary and emerging threats is essential. Specially the intelligence based matters a lot. Development and enhancement of intelligence agencies is placed top priority in my agenda. It is obvious that we have to face unconventional and unpredictable threats in the future than conventional threats. In this sense, we need to identify the dimensions of new threats. Also, we have to enhance our soldiers’ combat efficiency by giving focus to develop their physical fitness, morale and conceptual awareness,” the Commander elaborated.

“Our solutions that fitted well in the past may not fit to present situations as they do and the future issues are going to be different, altogether in every aspect. Therefore, we need to be adaptable and continue to be adaptable in finding solutions for varying circumstances now, and onwards.

“I hold zero tolerance policy on financial malpractices and misappropriation of property, either public or Army on the other hand, and no Officer should misuse the authority vested upon you which is expected to be used in the best interest of the Army. Therefore, all levels of commanders should ensure that all the Officers and Other Ranks under your command are acquainted with and comply with the orders and instructions, issued by myself as the Commander of the Army and the Army Headquarters. Further, you should provide necessary assistance in the implementation process of the same,” the Commander warned.

Referring to his intention of meting out justice to all, he quipped: “I insist that I will take all decisions in accordance with the principles of natural justice in order to render justice to everyone. In doing so, relevant parties to the matter under consideration will be heard before arriving at the final decision without being biased towards anyone.”

Touching the question of promotion of ethnic harmony and gestures of reconciliation, Lieutenant General Silva remarked: “I come from a background where multi-cultural diversity has been in practice in Matale. From my childhood through school days, I lived in a tolerant society where the brothers and sisters of those different communities lived together in harmony which I continue to associate even today. To this end, my upbringing taught me as to how to live in a harmonious society, so therefore I am armed with all pre requisites that required leading this journey.”

“Our solutions that fitted well in the past may not fit to present situations as they do and the future issues are going to be different, altogether in every aspect. Therefore, we need to be adaptable and continue to be adaptable in finding solutions for varying circumstances now, and onwards,” he underlined.

Here follows the full address of the Commander to Officers :

Ladies and Gentlemen, I wish you all very Good Morning !

“At the very outset, my heartiest appreciation goes to everybody for coming here all the way from your duty stations to be a part of this significant occasion where I address the Officers for the very first time upon assumption of duties as the 23rdCommander of the Sri Lanka Army.

Being a classic infantryman, I am indeed honoured and privileged to stand here today to address the members of a victorious Army. I humbly proud of the great opportunity vested upon me to command such a group of brave military professionals of a world class winning Army.

We as proud members of Sri Lanka Army are supposed to perform a bounded duty to ensure the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of this nation. Also the security and protection of the people of this great country is in our hands.

First and foremost, it is my utmost duty and responsibility to convey my heartfelt respect and gratitude to His Excellency MaithripalaSirisena, President of Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka and Commander-in-Chief of the Sri Lankan Armed Forces for selecting and giving me this opportunity to command the ‘Defenders of the Nation’, the Sri Lanka Army.

Also I wish to thank Gen Shantha Kottegoda the Secretary to the Ministry of Defence of having confidence on me when my name was selected.

At this memorable moment, I would like to pay my gratitude to the father of Gajaba Regiment, Major General VijayaWimalarathna for grooming and moulding me during my early career, to reach the highest position in the Army. I also respectfully salute all my Course Officers and Instructors who directed and guided me to become an officer, gentleman, leader and finally to be the Commander of the prime security institution of our country.

My respect is also for my parents who toiled hard and brought me up with qualities and values to reach this level in my life. I would never forget my Alma Matter, the colleges that I learnt to include St Josheps College Anuradapura, Vijaya Vidyalaya Matale and St’ Thomas’ College, Matale and dearly teachers who moulded me during my childhood and instilled good qualities to become a good citizen to serve the country with utmost dedication.

Without moving further, I also wish to thank General Mahesh Senanayake and other 21 Army Commanders for their tireless efforts and leadership given to uplift the standards of Sri Lanka Army.

Therefore, I take this opportunity to express my sincere gratitude and respect to all of them for what they did for the betterment of this organization. Every former commander who was in the line of duty deserves my sincere appreciation and gratitude for the development that the Sri Lanka Army has achieved over the years. I, as the 23rd Commander of the Sri Lanka Army, now it is my turn to guide this organization to reach desired ends that a professional outfit wish to achieve reach further heights. As any other individual, I also have a major plan with a timely vision. My ultimate goal is to bring this organization to its better heights and to march forward progressively to encounter our traditional and non-traditional challenges.

Accordingly, my address to you today is to tell you as to what I expect from you to march forward in this endeavor. I fervently hope you will listen to me carefully and you would convey my message to those who are not present today. You need to be flexible in your approach because each and every situation is a new state of affair.

Our solutions that fitted well in the past may not fit to present situations as they and the future issues are going to be different altogether in its every aspect. Therefore, we need to be adaptable and continue to be adaptable in finding solutions for varying circumstances now and onwards.

In my belief, there are four pillars. I concentrate firstly to protect the country. Secondly to protect the great people of this country who have a remarkable recorded history. Thirdly the development of the army for today and for future is my priority. And fourthly looking after the well-being of all members of this organisation is of paramount importance. When it comes to our member community the serving men and women, retirees, wounded in action and families of those killed in action including precious civil work force are the proud members of our organization. During my command while concentrating on above four pillars my strategy of developing the army will be implemented under three consecutive stages. They will be achieved through short, medium and long term plans.

On our way to success, there are some priorities that we need to be focused on. Our utmost priority is on National Security. We should not allow anyone to compromise our security for any reason. Our approach to ensure National Security should be highly comprehensive. In this endeavour, enhancing the fighting power, intelligence systems and technology to counter contemporary and emerging threats is essential. Specially the intelligence based matters a lot. Development and enhancement of intelligence agencies placed top priority in my agenda. It is obvious that we have to face unconventional and unpredictable threats in the future than conventional threats. In this sense, we need to identify the dimensions of new threats. Also, we have to enhance our soldiers’ combat efficiency by giving focus to develop their physical fitness, morale and conceptual awareness.

In recent years, we experienced natural disasters as well as unexpected threats from some extremists which challenge the security of our country and the Army has been the first respondent to call upon during such situations. So, it is very clear that emergency preparedness of our Army personnel is necessary to conduct rescue missions and mitigate natural disasters and to act swiftly and boldly to assist the nation at the face of non-traditional threats. Always be prepared to counter any challenge in this respect.

Our next focus should be to contribute to Nation-building and reconciliation process. We, as the Sri Lanka Army needs to look at our contribution to nation-building process. Nation building process should not be restricted to mere constructions and we should develop our understanding of nation’s togetherness to reach ultimate sustainability of the nation. We need to be optimistic to develop communication with all stakeholders of our nation’s development drive under a common ground which the citizens of this country can feel about.

We should take the lead to develop Sri Lanka through our contribution. Sri Lankan society is comprised of multi ethnic, multi religious and different castes, faiths and beliefs. We should stand as one entity and by that the people of this country be united and the unity among people can be developed. In this respect, we as the Sri Lanka Army should be an example to the rest of the country. I come from a background where multi cultural diversity has been in practice in Matale. From my childhood through school days I lived in a tolerant society where the brothers and sisters of those different communities lived together in harmony which I continue to associate even today. To this end, my upbringing thought me as to how to live in a harmonious society so therefore I am armed with all pre requisites that required leading this journey.

The Army has proven its capabilities in many fields and we have a number of professionals to be employed for the best interest of the nation. At present, our country marches forward to gain socio-economic development with many projects, thus it is our duty to build up robust civil military partnership and extend assistance to expedite the nation - building and reconciliation process.

Our next endeavour should be to enhance education and skill development of the army. We as the largest organization of this country, we need to develop a dialogue to bring this organization a professionally accomplished entity. In this understanding, we must develop our knowledge and skills that suit to present day and future challenges. Officering will also involve greatly in making this attempt a reality. I urge you to maintain officering every time and take all measures to enhance your knowledge on military andnon-military subjects to be more professional in the field. Keep learning and developing yourselves as well as others whom you serve with.

We are well aware that the Army is a profession which requires the highest level of professionalism and expertise as its role is to reach out the citizenry during a crisis situation to bring back normalcy.

Hence, it is essential for you to develop yourselves to be professionals in your respective fields through knowledge enhancement and experience sharing. You, as Officers it is your prime responsibility to take the maximum use of every available opportunity to enhance your knowledge and be competent decision makers. I believe mission command is very vital in this regard. I encourage you to exercise mission command with utmost care and dedication, within the disciplinary framework. We all are not going to be here forever. Therefore we have to train our leaders allowing them to practice mission command in its full content with responsibility. At this moment, I would like to remind a famous quote, which is applicable for Officers and Soldiers of the Army; that is “Knowledge is power” and I urge you to be powerful by gaining maximum benefits through local and overseas training opportunities that I intend to enhance as a matter of priority. At the same time, I request you to train and develop your men and women with required knowledge, skills and attitudes.

My next priority is for career progression of all ranks. Every Officer has the right to know his or her career path, opportunities available and means to achieve them in the Army. No Officer should be in a dilemma without knowing about next step in his or her career. All Officers should be well aware of what’s going to be the next step of their career. In my experience, last two years, there was an uncertainty about my career progression. It should not happen that way. It happened that way because of the lack of proper systems with us.

Our next focus should be to prepare retirees for reinsertion to the civil society. One day at one stage of life, we all will have to retire from active military service. Therefore, the Army should prepare our service personnel to retire without regret. Officers and men must be well prepared to face the challenges of post-retirement life. They must be fully aware of their retirement plan well in advance and we must prepare them for that purpose.

Well-being has no exception in my wish list as I believe the people under me should work with a smile on their faces. I urge you that we are responsible for the welfare and wellbeing of all, serving personnel, retirees, wounded in action and proud family members of those who killed in Action including civilian work force. If not for their untiring efforts, selfless commitments and true dedication the peace that we are fully enjoying today may have been a distant dream for ever. In this sense, welfare and wellbeing of heroic men and women of this organization is always becomes a top most priority. I firmly believe a satisfied person would do his best at the workplace. Therefore, all necessary actions will be initiated in the future to uplift the wellbeing of every individual of the Army including their family members. Therefore, I urge you to identify grey areas and suggest appropriate course of actions to make everyone happy and contented.

My next focus is for modernization of the Army to be par with world’s best practices. We are to celebrate the 70thanniversary of the Sri Lanka Army in this October with a proud legacy. However, it needs to maintain the same legacy and developed in the future. It is required for us to be equipped with advanced technological equipment as well as skills.

I hold zero tolerance policy on the financial malpractices and misappropriation of property, either public or Army on the other hand, no Officer should misuse the authority vested upon you which is expected to use in the best interest of the Army.

Therefore, all levels of commanders should ensure that all the Officers and Other Ranks under your command are acquainted with and comply to the orders and instructions issued by myself as the Commander of the Army and the Army Headquarters. Further, you should provide necessary assistance in the implementation process of the same.

I insist that I will take all decisions in accordance with the rules of natural justice in order to render justice for everyone. In doing so, relevant parties to the matter under consideration will be heard before arriving at the final decision without being biased towards anyone.

Further, as Officers, you are responsible of building and maintaining the image of our organization. Therefore, you should be a mirror to yourself. You must dress well and behave appropriately to suit the rank wearing in your shoulder. You need to keep your reputation intact at every time among the men and those that you serve for; because once lost, it is almost impossible to earn it back. Always maintain your integrity in its highest possible sense.

Officers, Ladies and Gentlemen, we are a small country with limited economy but with lot of potentialities in different fields. Our organization is also part of that and I being the Commander of the Army, it’s my responsibility to make every endeavour to make you and your loved ones happy.

I am here to take each and every effort that is necessary to get you there. We did the best. We must continue to do our best. People of this country know that we are the best. Bear in your minds, you are second to none, not only in the arms of profession but also in any profession in the world. Always be proud of what you are and who you are as you are members of this esteemed organization. Always be proud of it.

At last If I remind you the essence of my nearly 40 minute-long speech today, area of focus was main four strategic objectives, namely Security of the country, Security of the people, Developing the Army and well-being of the members. Then the 7 pillars which were elaborated briefly by me also are vital to groom the Army. Those are National Security, Nation-building and reconciliation, skill development, career progression, retirement and transition, Modernization of the Army and well-being of the people are the areas where you have to look into. So, I believe you will work together as a team to reach the organizational goals.

Officers, Ladies and Gentlemen,

May the Nobel Triple Gem be with you and protect you in your all future endeavours! Thank you.”