A True Friend of SLAF Retires

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The Indian Army’s Chief of the Army Staff (COAS), General Manoj Mukund Naravane PVSM AVSM SM VSM ADC who is retiring shortly after a noteworthy and illustrious career of more than 42 years of military service is in fact a true friend of the Sri Lankan Armed Forces (SLAF). This appreciative account is a tribute to this military leader of our region who has contributed to the growth of professional standards of the Sri Lankan Army and IPKF troops in Sri Lanka when the LTTE terrorists were fighting against the SLAF during the latter part of 1980.

It is the close affinity and the working relationship that prevails between the Sri Lanka Armed Forces and the Indian Army prompted me to flash this message of best wishes to General Manoj Mukund Naravane of India on the eve of his retirement from the Indian Army as its Chief of Army Staff who turns 63 years of age. 

Sir, your tenure of office as the 27th COAS after your enlistment to the Indian Army as an Officer Cadet in June 1980 and the subsequent service of more than four decades, truly a record, affirmed distinctively how significant and indispensable your commitment to the country and the organisation you served alike.  It is more significant because it was your service tenure, needless to mention, saw some turbulent times and was compelled to work towards the security of the ‘Bharath Matha’ when she was beginning to be recognised world-wide as a world power. 

The writer who was a Platoon Commander at that time in Trincomalee when General Naravane was serving the East, knows very well how he effectively contributed to the peace efforts in Sri Lanka while serving the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) when our country sought your assistance in late 1980s as LTTE terrorism was on the rise inflicting heavy casualties on innocent civilians. The supreme sacrifices made by IPKF ‘Jawans’ deserve our Nation’s deep appreciation and salute all the time and those  memories would remain in our hearts forever.

Not only that, during your office as the incumbent COAS of India, your goodness humbly paid a cordial visit to Sri Lanka for four days in October last year, during which you had audience with HE the President and Hon Prime Minister before paying courtesies to General Shavendra Silva, Chief of Defence Staff and Commander of the Army. I was one among the privileged retired officers who was invited to the commemoration of IPKF soldiers in the solemn ceremony at Battaramulla, thanks to your personal invitation, a life – long memory for me.   

It is with sincere gratitude, I place on record your commendable gestures of goodwill shown to the SLAF by multiplying training opportunities and modules to Sri Lankan Officers and Other Ranks for the best interests of the Armed Forces in the past few years. Sir, you genuinely displayed your highest regard for your neighbour as the Indian government has publicly announced.

Equally important were the unfailing support you extended all the time facilitating the conduct of annual bilateral military exercises, like ‘Mithra Shakti’, ‘Cormorant Strike’, etc which inevitably stimulated troops of our both organisations. You were personally in touch with our senior officers throughout and wanted such Exercises be beneficial to both organisations. Although I myself have now retired from the Sri Lanka Army, I know how closely the Indian Jawans worked with our armed forces.    

I am quite confident that your dedicated and tireless 42 years of service to Mother India would remain strongly etched in the hearts of valiant members of the Indian Army for many years to come since General Manoj Mukund Naravane as an outstanding infantryman of the prestigious Sikh Light Infantry of the Indian Army proved successful in spearheading many decisive anti insurgency operations and other important military assignments in India during the tenure.

Sir, let me take this opportunity to lend my warmest best wishes and heartiest greetings to you, General Manoj Mukund Naravane, and your family members on the eve of General Naravane’s retirement from the Indian Army at the age of 62 years.

You have done your maximum for the country and maintained best of the best neighbourly ties with everyone in the region. Wishing you a retirement filled with peace and happiness. I also wish you and your family members the best of luck in all your future endeavours and the blessings of the Noble Triple Gem be always with you in future!

Major General Jayanath Jayaweera (Rtd) RWP RSP USP rcds