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SLAF Commanders inducted Into International Honour Roll-Air University

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Maxwell Air Force Base Alabama, traces its roots to the Air Corps Tactical School (ACTS) located at Maxwell Field from 1931 to 1942. After World War II, as the independent Air Force was formed, grew, expanded and developed, the requirements and expectations of the school evolved to fulfil the service’s educational needs.


The vision of pre-World War II leaders has sustained the test of time.


More than eight decades later, since the founding of the ACTS, the present 10-month curriculum still focuses on expanding the understanding of air and space power and on the growth of midcareer officers. In 1962, the school became known by its current name, Air Command and Staff College.


 Under the International Military education and training (IMET) the United States offers to train future leaders to build a future-ready alliance creating a better understanding of the U.S. military and our military, on professional military education.


 Air Command and Staff College is one such programme offered to Sri Lanka. The Air Command and Staff College is a rigorous residential 10-month graduate-level programme that covers the profession of arms, leadership, ethics, joint operations, airpower, and the international security environment.


 The programme also conducts research that explores topics of varying interests. On successful completion, who meet all curriculum and criteria, requirements of the ACSC Resident Program is awarded the Masters of Military Operational Art and Science Degree.


 Many Sri Lanka Air Force officers have followed this course of training.


 The International Honour Roll The International Honour Roll (IHR) is a prestigious tribute to international officer alumni of the Air University who have attained the highest military leadership recognized within their own countries as an Air Chief equivalent or higher civilian capacity.


 The Air University, on behalf of the Chief of Staff of the Air Force, in coordination with the Under Secretary of the Air Force, Office of International Affairs, hosts the IHR Induction Ceremony at Maxwell Air Force Base to recognize those officers that meet IHR induction criteria.


 IHR has been an initiative of the Vice Chief of Staff of the United States Air Force, General John L. Piotrowski, in 1985, and designed by the International Officer School to facilitate senior-leader military engagement with international partners and build upon global alliances. Since the programme started has since inducted 472 international officers from 97 different nations.


 Any qualified international alumni who had ever attended the Air University courses since the first allied officer students in 1946 have been inducted. Every inductee’s name and their highest position held is permanently inscribed on a plaque in the dedicated IHR room, located at the International Officer School and similarly at the Maxwell Club. During the last induction Lt. Gen. Steven Kwast, Air University commander and director had stated that the induction is one of his favourites because it celebrates the investment made to procure a peaceful future and the partnership and friendship we share with our allies.


 “This is a celebration that is joined not by just the military, but the community who understand that the foundation of defence is a civilization that believes in a peaceful use of power,” he said.


Air University recognized the achievements of 26 alumni with their induction into the International Honour Roll here, April 7, 2017.


 The nations represented at the last investiture in 2017 were Botswana, Bulgaria, Colombia, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Ghana, Japan, Latvia, Republic of Macedonia, Morocco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Oman, Philippines, Poland, Rwanda, Seychelles, Singapore, Slovenia, Sri Lanka, and Turkmenistan, that give proper recognition to the great leaders and epitomized what nations can do when forged by enduring bonds.


 In addition at the last investiture ceremony Air Force Chief of Staff, Gen. David L. Goldfein has stated “Our strength, our collective strength will come from personal and professional bonds and how we work together to tackle the incredible challenges facing the global security environment. I’ve said this before and I believe it in my heart, one of our greatest strengths as nations is our ability to form and maintain partnerships”


 The international officers inducted during the last investiture ceremony in 2017 like previous inductees, were honoured with a plaque in the International Officer School’s Honour Roll Room.


International Honour Roll inductees of the Sri Lanka Air Force Among the 26 international senior leaders inducted in 2017, it included two former Sri Lanka Air Force Commanders namely; 


1) Air Chief Marshal Kolitha Aravinda Gunatilleke, Chief of the Defence Staff, ACSC 99 alumni inducted 2017 (14th Sri Lanka Air Force Commander)


2) Air Chief Marshal Gagan Bulathsinghala, Ambassador to Afghanistan, ACSC alumni, inducted 2017 (15th Sri Lanka Air Force Commander)


Further to the above named, following former Commanders of the Sri Lanka Air Force who are also alumni had been previously inducted International Honour Roll since 1969 and are: 


3) Air Vice Marshal Dick C. Perera AIR FORCE COMMANDER alumni ACSC-69, inducted 1969 (6th Sri Lanka Air Force Commander) 


4) Air Marshal Oliver Mathew Ranasinghe COMMANDER OF SRI LANKA AIR FORCE, VSV, NDC, PSC alumni ACSC-83 inducted 1994 (9th Sri Lanka Air Force Commander) 


5) Air Marshal Jayalath Weerakkody AIR CHIEF OF THE SRI LANKA AIR FORCES alumni ACSC-86, inducted 1998 (10th Sri Lanka Air Force Commander), 


6) Air Marshal Gabadarachige Donald Perera COMMANDER OF THE AIR FORCE alumni ACSC-90, inducted 2003 (11th Sri Lanka Air Force Commander) 


7) Air Vice Marshal W.D.R.M.J. Goonetileke TWELFTH COMMANDER OF THE SRI LANKA AIR FORCE alumni ACSC-95, inducted 2007 (12th Sri Lanka Air Force Commander) 


8) Air Marshal Harsha Abeywickrema COMMANDER OF THE AIR FORCE, SRI LANKA AIR FORCE alumni ACSC 98, inducted 2012 (13th Sri Lanka Air Force Commander) 


The name, rank and designation of the above-named officers remain as per the records of the Air University International Honour Roll.


Further, it is also pertinent to mention that the incumbent Commander of the Air Force, Air Marshal Sudarshan Pathirana is also an alumnus ACSC 2003 of the Air University who has full filled International Honour Roll induction criteria.


 These achievements reflect the numerous accomplishments and substantial impact on the Sri Lanka Air Force. Though the recognition is given to these distinguished individual officers by the Air University, it echoes well on the prestige of Sri Lanka as well as our professional military in particular to the world at large.


 The given recognition of these military leaders epitomizes how they have contributed to the nation. Wish these accolades will inspire the present and future generations and add many more names of Sri Lankan Air Force officers would be added to this prestigious Air University International Honour Roll in the future.

The writer is the formerly Commander Sri Lanka Air Force/Ambassador of Sri Lanka to Afghanistan.    


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