The pride of the Nation, the Armyâ€™s elite Special Forces (SF), having once again â€˜Vowed to Reach the Goal Fearlesslyâ€™, translated literally their motto, â€œAdhishtanayen Abheethawa Aramuna Karaaâ€ bestowed SF graduation on 4 Officers and 315 Other Ranks in the Intake-49 during a glittering passing-out ceremony, held on Saturday (22) morning at the Special Forces Training School in Maduruoya.
Admiral Ravindra C. Wijegunaratne, Chief of Defence Staff as the Chief Guest for the graduation ceremony added dignity and prominence at the invitation of Lieutenant General Mahesh Senanayake, Colonel of the Regiment, SF and Commander of the Army.
The nine month-long rigorous training, a uniquely designed module that saw its origins as combat trackers and rapid deployment forces is considered as the toughest of the tough, out of all Army training modules and is generally tasked upon graduation to carry out covert small operations, penetrating deep into enemy strongholds and survive in jungles for days. The Armyâ€™s both SF and Commando Regiments who are regarded the most-feared by terrorists are formed with skills for Long Range Reconnaissance Patrols (LRRP), Urban warfare, hostage rescue and anti terrorist warfare, VIP protection, airborne and seaborne operations of all kinds. SF soldiers, well known for their operations in the last humanitarian operations against LTTE terrorists had the exceptional ability to infiltrate into enemy territory in small groups and take out targets even 30 to 50 km behind enemy lines. Major General (retd) Gamini Hettiarachchi performed a pioneering role in the raising of this unique unit in the year 1985.
A special Guard of Honour saluted the dayâ€™s Chief Guest, Admiral Ravindra C. Wijegunaratne who later on reviewed it, together with the Commander of the Army, Lieutenant General Mahesh Senanayake and the Parade Commander, Major A.W. Pathirana in keeping with military traditions before he took the salute from the special dais. At the entrance, SF Centre Commandant, together with the Colonel of the Regiment, SF warmly welcomed him on arrival.
Minutes after that, adding a new dimension to the proceedings, the badges to be awarded to the graduates during the ceremony were flown by air. Admiral Ravindra C. Wijegunaratne afterwards awarded Special Forces badges and Colours to a section of the day’s graduates. Commander of the Army cum the Colonel of the Regiment followed suit and pinned the rest of the badges on the soldiers.
Later on, the dayâ€™s Chief Guest awarded laurels and certificates to the Best of the Best in the Course No. 49 amid roars of applause. In a very rare gesture of excellence, Second Lieutenant M.A.D Woodward succeeded in becoming the Best Student and Lance Corporal W.A.S Shirantha selected as the Best Gymnast while Lance Corporal E.V.D Somasiri was selected as the Best Shooter to receive appreciation and trophies for tests of mettle and proficiency from the Chief Guest.
A special display of skills by parachutists, Taekwondo members, mock fighting in built-up areas and Unarmed Combat Fighting took the centre-stage afterwards as entertaining features, amid applause before the dayâ€™s proceedings came to an end.
The Chief Guest made a brief address to the occasion and reminded those graduates the importance of maintaining discipline at all levels despite constraints. Further, the Chief Guest paid a special tribute to all fallen, disabled and serving SF members and pointed out the dignity and pride, associated with the Special Forces as a special regiment.
A special documentary on the history of the Special Forces followed by a brief demonstration, presented by Course attendees and performances of the Army cultural troupe added colour and entertainment to the dayâ€™s event. During his stay there, Admiral Ravindra C. Wijegunaratne called at the Herbal Garden (Osu Uyana) in SF camp premises and joined a tree-planting programme as a token of memory of his visit to the place. He also interacted with a segment of parents of those graduates, present there sharing a few thoughts and inquired into welfare needs, and other matters of concern to them.
A large gathering of Senior Officers, including Commander, Security Forces – East, invitees, parents and well-wishers witnessed the day’s historic event.