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Sri Lanka Army

Defenders of the Nation

14th May 2018 16:22:27 Hours

Indian Army Chief Impressed with SLA's Nation-Building Roles

Military salutes, including a Guard of Honour and a Guard Turnout formally greeted General Bipin Rawat, the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) of Indian Army, now in Sri Lanka on a goodwill tour at the invitation of his Sri Lankan counterpart, Lieutenant General Mahesh Senanayake when the former called at the Army Headquarters on Monday (14) morning to meet his host as the first formal leg of the itinerary in Sri Lanka.

An elegant and colour-rich Guard of Honour at the Army Headquarters presented arms and extended honours to the visiting Indian Army Chief on arrival in accordance with military traditions after a formal military Guard Turnout greeted him at the entrance to the premises.

Major General Shavendra Silva, Adjutant General of the Army Headquarters greeted the visiting Army Chief of India at the entry to the parade ground after the Commanding Officer of the Headquarters Battalion received him in conformity with military procedures.

Afterwards, the Chief of Staff, Major General Dampath Fernando, Commandant, Sri Lanka Army Volunteer Force, Major General Piyal Wickramaratne, Deputy Chief of Staff, Major General Ajith Kariyakarawana and all other Principal Staff Officers were then introduced to the visiting Army Chief by the Commander of the Army, Lieutenant General Mahesh Senanayake at the foyer to the Commander’s Secretariat before he was ushered to the office of the Commander.

During the cordial meeting that ensued, both General Bipin Rawat and Lieutenant General Mahesh Senanayake shared views on bilateral and current issues that are relevant to both organizations.

The visiting Indian Army Chief was keen on learning how the Sri Lanka Army has embarked on nation-building roles while transforming its soldiers to be capacity-based and skill-oriented, arming them with globally recognized National Vocational Qualification (NVQ) and related training in different spheres of expertise.

The Commander of the Army explained how the much-needed workforce for nation-building is groomed, irrespective of their soldiering in teeth arms, infantry or services by exposing them to this skilled sphere and cited how it has worked in the field of construction, repairs, rebuilding and infrastructure development, for example, pointing to the ongoing reconstruction of agricultural tanks in the Eastern and North Central Provinces.

Lieutenant General Senanayake opined that a soldier, generally regarded as a 'destructor' should be more productively used as a 'constructor' instead in peacetime for challenges in nation-building because of their skills and further enlightened the visiting Army chief on how the Army has been engaged in a wide range of civil-military cooperation projects in the North and East and elsewhere with the sheer intention of bettering livelihoods and welfare benefits of all civilians in respective regions.

General Bipin Rawat was also equally interested in the specific model the Sri Lanka Army has successfully tapped in the rehabilitation of former LTTE combatants and also how the Sri Lanka Army's own 5R concept (Rehabilitation, Reconstruction, Reintegration, Resettlement and Reconciliation), has been implemented for revitalization of the country's battered infrastructure during 30-year long conflict.

During the cordial meeting, discussions also centred on ongoing training programmes for Sri Lankan Army Officers and possibilities of further enhancement of training openings. Both military leaders agreed that the spirits of good understanding and cooperation that prevails between both organizations should be further strengthened and encouraged as friendly neighbours. They both also discussed the importance of evaluating security threats in the region and tackling them through exchange of information and intelligence.

Exchange of mementos as symbols of memory and goodwill between both Army chiefs brought the fruitful interactive discussions to an end.

A few minutes later, Lieutenant General Mahesh Senanayake invited the visiting India’s Army Chief for a separate discussion, where a briefing on current roles and tasks of the Sri Lanka Army was presented by Major General Dananjith Karunaratne, Director General General Staff. Colonel Udaya Kumara, Military Assistant was also associated with this meet.

Towards the end of the interaction, the visiting Army Chief was invited to leave memories by signing the VIP visitors’ book at the Commander’s Office.

A group photograph with both Army Chiefs, visiting delegates and Principal Staff Officers of the Army brought the formal visit to the Headquarters to an end.

The visiting COAS is scheduled to pay courtesy calls on Commanders of the Navy, Air Force and the Chief of Defence Staff before he pays courtesies to State Minister of Defence, Secretary Defence, Hon Prime Minister and HE the President. He will also visit the Sri Lanka Military Academy at Diyatalawa later.

Major General Prithi Singh, Brigadier Mukesh Aggarwal and Captain Ashok Rao, Defence Advisor to High Commission of India were also present during the meeting with the Commander of the Army, Lieutenant General Mahesh Senanayake.

Here follows the brief profile of the visiting India's Army Chief;

General Bipin Rawat, is an alumnus of St. Edward School, Shimla, and the National Defence Academy, Khadakwasla; he was commissioned to the Fifth Bn, the Eleventh Gorkha Rifles of the Indian Army in December 1978, from IMA, Dehradun, where he was awarded the ‘Sword of Honour’. The officer has vast experience in operations across a wide spectrum of conflict and terrain profiles. He commanded an Infantry battalion, along the Line of Actual Control in the Eastern Sector; a Rashtriya Rifles Sector; an Infantry Division in the Kashmir Valley; and, a Corps in the North East. The officer also commanded a Multinational Brigade, in a Chapter VII mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUC). As an Army Cdr, he commanded a theatre of ops along the Western Front.

General Rawat’s staff and instructional assignments include, Instructional tenure at IMA Dehradun; General Staff Officer, at the Military Operations Directorate; Logistics staff officer of a Division in Central India; Colonel Military Secretary and Deputy Military Secretary in the Military Secretary’s Branch; and Senior Instructor, Junior Command Wing. He has been Major General General Staff of the Eastern Theatre, and the Vice Chief of the Army Staff.

General Bipin Rawat is a graduate of the Defence Services Staff College, Wellington, the Higher Command and National Defence College courses and, has attended the Command and General Staff Course at Fort Leavenworth, USA. The officer during the span of over 38 years service in uniform has been awarded for gallantry and distinguished service with the UYSM, AVSM, YSM, SM, VSM; COAS Commendation on two occasions and the Army Commander’s Commendation. Whilst serving with the United Nations, he was twice awarded the Force Commander’s Commendation.

Academically inclined, the General has authored numerous articles on ‘National Security’ and ‘Leadership’ which have been published in various journals and publications. He was awarded M. Phil in Defence Studies from Madras University, and holds two Diplomas, in Management and Computer Studies respectively. General Bipin Rawat completed his research on military media strategic studies and was awarded Doctorate of Philosophy (Ph.D) from Chaudhary Charan Singh University, Meerut.

The General officer assumed the appointment of the Chief of the Army Staff on 31 Dec 2016.