‘Protecting peace, a prime duty of the Air Force’
Text of speech for the Passing Out of the 53rd
Intake - Sri Lanka Air Force, delivered by Defence and Urban Development
Ministry Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, on August 4.
From today, all 84 cadets and 386 other recruits will become members
of one of the finest Air Forces in the world. I know that the training
you have undergone is a very intensive and strenuous one, and I
congratulate you for having completed it. I also take this opportunity
to recognise the hard work of the Commandant and Training Staff of the
Sri Lanka Air Force, in bringing these cadets and recruits to the
standard they have achieved today.
Defence and Urban Development Ministry Secretary Gotabhaya
Rajapaksa at the SLAF Passing Out ceremony.
The proud parents of the young officers and recruits passing out
today deserve particular congratulations. Your children are amongst the
best of their generation, and you should be justly proud of what they
have achieved. I must make special mention that the son of the former
Air Force Commander and present Chief of Defence Staff, Roshan
Goonatilleke, is one of the cadets passing out today. He is making
history as a third generation officer, whose father and grandfather were
both Air Force Commanders. This exemplifies the spirit of service and
dedication that all of you have towards our nation.
All the parents of the officers and other recruits deserve many
thanks for allowing and encouraging their children to join the Armed
Services. I am sure that they will make you more and more proud as they
advance in their careers.
I know that today is a very special day for all of the new officers
and recruits who are passing out. I think it is appropriate at this time
that you take a moment to reflect on the accomplishments of your
predecessors at the Sri Lanka Air Force. During the period of the war,
the personnel of the Air Force engaged one of the deadliest and most
ruthless terrorist organisations in the world. Several brave officers
and other ranks who graduated from this Academy before you sacrificed
their lives to achieve peace for this nation. All those who participated
in the war worked incredibly hard and underwent many hardships to
achieve the defeat of terrorism.
The environment today, as you graduate, is completely different. The
country is at peace, and the demands that are made of servicemen are of
a different nature. You have greater opportunity to concentrate on your
training, and build up the skills and knowledge you require to further
develop the professionalism and excellence of the Air Force.
The challenge before you today is to become more efficient and more
modern in your functioning. In the modern world, a modern military is a
knowledge-based force. The application of science and technology and
information technology has become an integral part of defence
preparedness and the conduct of warfare.
This means that we need well-educated and well-trained servicemen. It
also means that our officers have to be even better educated and better
trained. High quality training, good quality equipment and the ability
to strategize are essential to the success of our Armed Forces. The
environment in this country today lends itself to this, and you should
take full advantage. It is also important to remember that you are
joining an establishment that is youthful, well organised, and trained
to carry weapons. You have a great responsibility to perform your duties
with dedication and loyalty. The integrity, dedication for service and
commitment to excellence that you foster during your career will define
The officers in particular must remember that the commands you issue
to your subordinates will not only determine their tasks but also impact
their lives. You must therefore be very careful to give the correct
orders at all times.
All of you must also understand that with the end of the war, the
responsibilities that will be vested with the Armed Services may go
beyond what is customary. Because of the skills and knowledge imparted
to you during your training, and the professionalism that you will
develop during your service in the Air Force, you will be able to
undertake different types of roles and responsibilities. Not long after
the war, the President appointed some of the Flag Rank Officers who were
at the war front as Ambassadors and Deputy Ambassadors in different
countries around the world. Many Officers were also posted as Defence
Attaches to important embassies. In these various capacities, they have
all brought a great deal of credit to their respective Forces, and have
done a great service to their country. Similarly, there are other fields
in which Service personnel have had the opportunity to display their
dedication, adaptability and professionalism in serving the country.
Officers from all three services have become involved in undertaking
development work. The quality of their work and their performance of
duties in a professional and timely manner has greatly impressed
everyone they have worked with. In fact, more and more authorities and
agencies are requesting the secondment of military officers to their
organisations. They wish to have the assistance of these officers in
executing their tasks, because they know that the military can deliver
high quality results.
Many officers have therefore become involved in diverse fields that
most people would not have thought likely even a few years ago. For
example, the entire management of the newly built Mahinda Rajapaksa
Nelum Pokuna Performing Arts Theatre comprises officers from the three
To be continued