Annual Memorial Lecture on ‘Legacy of Maj Gen Vijaya Wimalaratne and his vision for a professional military’

‘Determination and Patriotism drive military commanders to victory and political leadership maintain the national will’ – Maj Gen Udaya Perera.

The Institute of National Security Studies Sri Lanka hosted its Annual Memorial Lecture Series 2018 on 8th August. This lecture was delivered by Major General Udaya Perera (Rtd) RWP RSP VSV USP USA WC psc.

INSSSL as the National Security Think Tank conducted this lecture to honor the late Maj Gen Vijaya Wimalaratne and his contribution as a brilliant strategist and leader to Sri Lanka’s armed forces, defence and security. This was in remembrance of his 26th Death Anniversary. The aim of this Annual Memorial Lecture was to commemorate the war hero and to educate the future generations on our great military strategists.  The knowledge sharing through this lecture was aimed at instilling strategic thinking and building professionalism in the next generation of the armed forces.

The event was attended by chairman of INSSSL, the Secretary of Defence Mr Kapila Waidyaratne PC, senior officials of the Ministry of Defence, distinguished military officers, academics, Mrs. Wimalaratne, Lieutenant colonel medical doctor Hiran Wimalaratne, his spouse Dr. Nishanthi Wimalaratne, and extended family of the late major general Vijaya Wimalaratne.

The participants included officers from army, navy, air force, police, academia and civilians. The Director General Asanga Abeyagoonasekera in his opening remarks reflected on the lack of military literature documenting the strategic depth and military insight of all the great military leaders of the country for future reference. This Annual Lecture was hence quintessential in paving the pathway for such analysis and documentation. Director General said “Today our national commitment to reconciliation and peace, our claim to build a nation with a strong national identity to be a proud Sri Lankan- now this claim is written on our soil by the blood spilled from our war hero’s, one such hero we commemorate today is Major General Vijaya Wimalaratne”.

Major General  WIVKM Wimalaratne, RWP RSP psc  was killed in action at Araly Point Kayts Island in the Jaffna Peninsula along with Major General Denzil Kobbekaduwa in 1992. At the time of his death he was the Security Forces Commander of Jaffna serving in historically significant battles such as Vadamarachchi Operation during the early Eelam wars.

Major General Udaya Perera was selected as the keynote speaker on account of his academically distinguished background and experience working with the late Major General Vijaya Wimalaratne. Major General Udaya Perera is educated from the National Defence University USA.

Major General Udaya Perera in his lecture spoke on violence, war and peace making insightful comments: “In the communication age, security is provided through bridges connecting communities and not raising walls to disconnect communities.  Trust on the military revolves around professionalism and deterrence. In the security sector, when the trust increase between the military, community, government and the society, dividends of peace are more and the conflict is less. When the trust decrease, dividends of peace are less, and the conflicts increase”

Major General Udaya Perera in his lecture praised General Wimalaratne’s leadership as someone who encouraged learning from the highest levels of the regiment to the lowest : so that everyone was updated on the latest developments within the militaristic sphere, to face the external threats without fear.  This was a good trait in a leader and he had never held any grudges with junior officers under his command, but gave all equal opportunities and commended them based on merits.

Major General Udaya Perera warned that lessons can be learnt from his leadership providing an example from Major General Vimalaratne’s strategic fore sight. ‘At a time when the government attempted to disband the Rajarata Rifles… he suggested the amalgamation of Rajarata Rifles with Vijayabahu regiment because disbandment could bring in long term consequences to the military’

General Wimalaratne was the founding father who raised, trained, and nurtured the Gajaba Regiment, which carries a high number of gallantry awards throughout the war. Major General Udaya Perera in his lecture reminded the audience that Major General Wimalaratne left behind a lasting legacy for the future. Military leaders of that caliber are a rare gem in the military history of our Defence forces.

 Press Release by Institute of National Security Studies Sri Lanka (Writer is Natasha Fernando, Research Assistant)