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Ananda inspires students to serve the Nation

As Anandians, you have inherited the legacy of patriotism and bravery. You love your country. The doors of the Army and the other Forces are open for such patriotic youth. If you want to serve the country, the Forces are an ideal opportunity.

General Sarath Fonseka is an illustrious Anandian who played a pivotal role in the battle against terrorism. Cadetting at Ananda inspired him to join the Army, which he heads today. Under his guidance, the Army has become one of the best defence Forces in the world today, having defeated the world's most ruthless terrorist group.

"We used new strategies to defeat the enemy. We often attacked where he was the strong, not weak as some war manuals suggested. Such methods coupled with the sheer determination of our troops helped us to inflict heavy damage on the Tigers. Some of them sacrificed their lives to secure our freedom."

General Fonseka cites Ananda as a decisive factor that shaped his military career. "Ananda is the leading Sinhala Buddhist school in the island.

Ananda's Sinhala Buddhist environment almost automatically cultivates a sense of patriotism in students. They are raised amidst Buddhist ethos. This gives them a sense of identity, a sense of belonging to the Motherland. It inspires the students to serve their Nation," General Fonseka told the Daily News in an interview.

"Ananda infused in me a love for the country which encouraged me to join the Army. The military is there to protect the country, so that is why I joined the Army. The Forces ensure the protection of the country."

He recalls that discipline was a hallmark of Ananda. The principals at Ananda were strict disciplinarians. As a result, all Anandians were highly disciplined. They were a natural choice for the Forces.

Besides, the military and school cadet corps had a close relationship as the latter were headed by military men. Thus the Army was the next stepping stone for most cadets.

Commenting on the fact that most of the field commanders were Anandians, the Commander said it was a happy coincidence - "I selected the best personnel and they turned out to be Anandians. I knew them earlier; I knew they were top performers. They rendered a yeoman service in achieving this victory."

His message to Anandians contemplating a career in the Armed Forces? "As Anandians, you have inherited the legacy of patriotism and bravery. You love your country. The doors of the Army and the other Forces are open for such patriotic youth. If you want to serve the country, the Forces are an ideal opportunity."

He noted that youth from all corners of the island were enthusiastically joining the Army. He expressed the hope that Ananda would continue to produce students who love their Motherland and who would serve the country in various capacities.

General Fonseka has served as an illustrious infantry soldier in the northern theatre of war during his exemplary career, particularly at the peak of Tiger terrorism. To his credit, when the Jaffna Fort was under siege for a long period, then Colonel Fonseka led troops in the famous "Midnight Express" operation to rescue troops. Incidentally, the incumbent Secretary Defence Lieutenant Colonel Gotabhaya Rajapaksa too was with him and together they rescued the lives of hundreds of troops who would always remember them for their leadership and bravery.

His enormous contribution as Deputy General Officer Commanding to conduct operation, 'Riviresa' to evict terrorists and capture Jaffna town in December 1995 continues to remain a living memory because of the dynamic leadership he jointly imparted to his fellow-soldiers, and his meticulously planned tactical knowledge of the warfare.

In the same vein, troops commanded by Gen Fonseka offered stiff resistance to Tigers during operation 'unceasing waves' in 2000, and further consolidated the security network to Jaffna during his four-month stint as Commander, Security Forces Headquarters, Jaffna .

General Fonseka, as a fearless infantryman was at the forefront in operations, 'Balawegaya' and 'Jayasikuru,' that led to rescue Elephant Pass and capture Mankulam.

It was none other than the 6th Battalion of his Sri Lanka Sinha Regiment that was under siege at Elephant Pass in 1991 and reinforcements in a meticulously devised operation successfully repulsed the LTTE attack. Jaffna, finally became his second home during May 2002-November 2003 after he was again appointed the Commander, Security Forces Headquarters, Jaffna.

His awards and decorations include the Gallantry Medals, Rana Wickrema Padakkama (RWP), Rana Sura Padakkama (RSP), Vishishta Seva Vibhushana (VSV). Utthama Seva Padakkama (USP), Riviresa Campaign Service Medal, Poorna Bhoomi Padakkama, North & East Operations Medal, Desha Puthra Sammanaya and several others.

He has held a large number of various staff appointments including the Chief of Staff office in the Army, the post he relinquished to take reins as Commander of the Army.

Enlisted to the Army on 05th February 1970, he was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant and subsequently posted to the 1st Battalion, Sri Lanka Sinha Regiment on 01st June 1971.

He has followed the UK-based course offered by Royal College of Defence Studies, Infantry Officers Advanced Course (USA), Staff College Course (Bangladesh), Company Commanders Course (Pakistan), Battalion Support Weapons Course (India), Counter Insurgency Jungle Warfare Course (India), Commando Officers Course (India) and has represented Sri Lanka in a number of international seminars and conferences. He escaped an LTTE assassination attempt in 2006.

General Fonseka, a product of Ambalangoda Dharmasoka College (1958-1965) and Ananda College, Colombo (1966-1969) is a keen sportsman who has excelled in swimming and water polo representing defence services and the country. He was promoted to the rank of General on 18th May 2009.

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