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21st September 2019 09:26:25 Hours

Army Chief in Jaffna Talks to Troops & Explains His Vision

In his Friday's address to a four-digit number strong gathering of All Ranks serving the Security Forces-Jaffna, Lieutenant General Shavendra Silva at the SFHQ-J spoke out his mind and the vision for the Army and emphasized that the Army's priority is to protect the country's national security and her people's security all the time. He also minced no words to assert that commitment, discipline, communication skills, experience, self-development, etc would make a full-fledged soldier whose professional perceptions could serve the Nation-building, Co-existence, Reconciliation, etc as uniting factors fostering ethnic harmony.

Lieutenant General Silva appealed All Ranks to perform their duties with dedication and commitment and told them they should always perform with a relaxed and contended mind while being happy with a serene smile. Since a soldier is someone who belongs to a special skilled community, he should be always exemplary to others and feel that he is proud to be a member of this tribe. Discipline is a fundamental attribute for every soldier who functions as a uniform wearing person. Therefore it is of paramount importance to maintain a high level of discipline within Officers and Other Ranks, the Commander opined.

Frequent guidance and supervision of soldiers are carried out by the Senior Non Commissioned Officers, to ensure smooth and effective functioning of the chain of command. In future too the SL Army will have to carry out national development projects in conjunction with the public, hence it is imperative to strengthen professionalism through career development to ensure the success of these projects.

"We, as the Sri Lanka Army need to look at our contribution to the 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 develop positive dialogues with all stakeholders of our nation’s development drive under a common ground that will be felt by all citizens of this country and hold each and every one who call themselves Sri Lankans accountable for it. We should take the lead to develop Sri Lanka through our contribution. Sri Lankan society is comprised of multi ethnic, multi religious people as well as people of different casts, faiths and beliefs. It is only if we stand together as one nation that unity will be achieved. 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 whom I continue to associate even today."

Addressing the Officers separately, the Commander touched on several vital concerns and urged them to reach our objectivity and perform well in the eyes of the public. Here are excerpts of his speech to the Officers:

"I hold a zero tolerance policy on the financial malpractices and misappropriation of property, either public or Army. No Officer should misuse the authority vested upon them which is only 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, " he added.

"Further, you should provide necessary assistance in the implementation process of the same. Promotions in the Army are of paramount importance and service personnel are judged against the eligibility criteria; experience, training, education and recommendation in annual appraisal, for the next rank. Annual Confidential Reports (ACRs) are being considered during promotions and as Officers you should be maintaining an above average grading for the successful military career. Moreover, field experience is reflected on the overall picture of the particular Officer. It’s the responsibility of Officers to ensure timely recommendations are made to award promotions to men under them. Further, Senior Officers should ensure their subordinates’ ACRs are filled at the right time," the Commander highlighted referring to the career progression.

Recalling past memories, he said "when accomplishing the mission, teamwork is more important than personal recognition. During humanitarian operation the Army defeated the LTTE with the assistance of the other sister services; Navy, Air Force and Police. Therefore, an experienced leader cannot favour individuals but must foster cooperation with all joint organizations and its team members. An excellent example of such leadership is General Dwight D. Eisenhower, supreme Allied commander, who despite the challenges of making multiple countries' militaries work together during World War II, built a coalition of U.S., British, French, and Canadian forces."

"There had been many intense battles fought in Jaffna during the time of the war and I never envisioned that I would be able to stand here today to address the Officers of Security Forces Headquarters (Jaffna) amidst a peaceful environment. I am proud to be here today, as the 23rd Commander of the Sri Lanka Army, after 10 years following the end of a war we all fought tirelessly for more than 30 years. I also wish to take this opportunity to extend my appreciation to the past Commanders and all Officers of Security Forces Headquarters (Jaffna) for their contribution to strengthen and elevate the standards of the Security Forces to what it is today.

It is worthy to mention that at present; the Security Forces Headquarters (Jaffna) plays a significant role in the development process of the country by assisting the government-launched projects. In this process, the Civil Affairs and Public Relations Office was opened in the city centre of Jaffna Town to foster national harmony in the Jaffna peninsula through uplifting the physical quality of life and spiritual values of the people. Many Officers and Other Ranks of the Security Forces Headquarters are being engaged in many projects such as Conducting humanitarian de-mining/mining awareness programmes, Reconstruction of houses for internally displaced people, Fostering programmes for orphaned and displaced children Integration of cultural religious, spiritual activities, Development of sports in Jaffna peninsula by organizing coaching camps, sport festivals with the support of multinational organizations. Sports exchange programmes, Providing educational assistance for children, Strengthening public library - Jaffna, etc.

Moreover, the assistance extended by the Security Forces Headquarters (Jaffna) to the economic sector in Jaffna in the fields of fisheries industry, agriculture industry and tourism industry is indeed commendable. The Sri Lanka Army as the forerunner, over the years, has displayed its professionalism in all situations in the most commendable manner. The boundless contribution of our Army in the effort of nation-building is among its greatest legacies. Be it ensuring the Nation's territorial integrity, fighting the scourge of terrorism, or reaching out to fellow citizens in times of natural calamities, our Army has performed their duties with dedication, maturity and professionalism.

Whilst at all times we are ready to defend our Nation for which professional skills have been supplemented with knowledge and wisdom. The Sri Lankan soldiers are admired world over for their display of humanity, discipline, professionalism and integrity. These attributes will without doubt enable us to be more efficient when we embark on increasing our participation in more training courses, peace keeping and humanitarian work.

A professional in any given field ought to possess the basic qualities and characteristics of that profession such as extreme levels of commitment, discipline, communication skills, experience and self-development to make a successful career out of it. Being military personnel it is of utmost importance to possess the above qualities.

In the present day context, Army demands trained and ready units with agile and capable professionals and leaders to meet the anticipated challenges in the ambiguous, chaotic, complex and uncertain future. Inquisitive, creative and adaptable professionals too exhibit commitment in developing subordinates through execution of their professional responsibility to teach, counsel, train and mentor them.

Discipline is a fundamental attribute for every soldier who functions as a uniform wearing person. Therefore it is of paramount importance to maintain a high level of discipline within Officers and Other Ranks. The men under you should respect and follow the higher command and they are responsible to ensure that lower level carry out the same a respectful chain of command will ensure a smooth working process, and set a fine example for all who join the services.

Developing skills of military officers to be professionals with responsibility, authority, accountability and an adaptable approach will produce robust, holistic and innovative leaders to assume progressively broader responsibilities across direct, organizational and strategic levels of leadership. This will result in professional military men capable of acting boldly and taking initiative in dynamic and complex situations. Furthermore, it will also produce leaders who possess the integrity and willingness to act in the absence of orders, and when existing orders, doctrine or their own experience no longer fit the situation or when unforeseen opportunities or threats arise.

They can clearly provide purpose, direction, motivation, and vision to their teams and subordinates while executing missions to support their commander’s intent. Leaders at all levels need to be prepared to understand the strategic context for execution and success of any task.

Communication plays a crucial role in the military leadership. A military commander cannot become a leader without effective communication and without the understanding of interpersonal relationships, sensitivity of non¬verbal messages and emotional relationships. How commanding officers communicate with the officers and men serving under them is crucial especially when uplifting their morale and motivating them to participate in life or death missions. It is not an easy task to keep the spirits high during a war situation and similarly it is not an easy feat to motivate soldiers who fought a war to now exercise peace, hence it is vitally important to understand the nuances of communication to give out clear and concise messages without ambiguity.

Professionalism can be achieved through a lifelong synthesis of knowledge, skills, and experiences gained through the training and education opportunities in the institutional, operational, and self-development domains. In fact, it is a deliberate, continuous, sequential, and progressive process which grows professionals in the Army into competent and confident leaders capable of decisive action.

A key component of leadership development is being focused on the professionalism of our leaders and those they lead. By developing and promoting a professional force, the Army develops trust on several levels: between soldiers; between soldiers and leaders; between soldiers and Army Civilians; between the soldiers, their families and the Army; and between the Army and Sri Lankans.

Self-development is the next attribute, and it is each individual’s responsibility. Professionals need to be actively involved in developing themselves and each other through study and practice, exchange of professional development information, discoveries, and opinions.

It bridges the gap between the operational and institutional domains and sets the conditions for continuous learning and growth. Military personnel engage in self-development in order to improve their capabilities for current and future assignments.

Professionalism, continuous learning and self-development, are crucial to our nation’s security and your personal success, as well as to face the evolving global challenges. Changes in technology, knowledge, and society happen so fast that lessons you’ve learned in Army are often quickly outdated. Courses are often too general to meet individuals’ specific needs. To thrive professionally and personally, you must engage in lifelong learning and self-development.

As you all may be aware, discipline, determination and commitment are the defining attributes of any society, which have made a mark in history. As we register progress in the economic field, we need to imbibe discipline and develop character more vigorously. Accordingly, an Army personnel with professional competency and self-development will, with no doubt, strive to serve to his full potential, to aim high, set goals. By doing so, he will not only achieve them, but, in fact, surpass them.

Officers, Ladies and Gentlemen,

My vision for the Army is built on four pillars. Firstly, to protect the country. Secondly to protect the great people of all ethnicities and religions of this country. Thirdly the development of the army for today and for the future. And fourthly looking after the wellbeing of all members of this organisation. Our proud organization consists of serving men and women, retirees, those wounded in action and families of those killed in action as well as the civil work force 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.