Army slams attempt to mislead soldiers and tarnish image

The Army says it has been observed that certain elements with malicious and vested interests and hidden agendas are currently engaged in an organized vilification of the Army, particularly with the motive of demoralizing, and misleading its soldiers and tarnishing its image.

The Army media unit said that in the most recent past, unfounded and fabricated stories of vicious nature had been published related to foreign allowances, rations and payments for disabled soldiers.

“Firstly, the Army would like to place following facts in correct perspective in regard to allocation and payment of foreign allowances to Army Officers proceeding on overseas training assignments. In keeping with the circular, specifying the provision of such allowances to overseas-bound tri-service officers for training assignments, all those payment are also done only after scrutiny of terms in the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that has been signed between the overseas host and the Sri Lanka Army before the departure of the attendee. Many such overseas assignments, implemented through the goodwill that prevail between the host and the Sri Lanka Army, generally provide board and lodging and other facilities gratis or a living allowance, quite sufficient to the attendee for stay during the assignment,” the Army said.

The Army said it has also already taken measures to clear a backlog of Rs 200 million, remained in arrears earlier as foreign allowances for the years 2016 / 2017 in coordination with the Ministry of Defence (MOD) by January 2018.

Likewise, a novel project that has been launched on an experimental basis with the good intention of providing each soldier with a nutritious lunch when on duty has also been found misinterpreted giving a distorted version.

Lieutenant General Mahesh Senanayake, Commander of the Army after perusing a recent report of the nutritionists at the Colombo Army Hospital and elsewhere under the ongoing ‘Healthy Army – Healthy Nation’ (HAHN) project, directed the authorities to introduce a pilot project among members serving the Security Force Headquarters – West (SFHQ-West) to improve the physical health state of each serving soldier by way of providing All Ranks, including those living outside with a sumptuous and nutritious lunch when on duty.

This pilot project was also prompted after medical authorities and nutritionists recommended each soldier be supplemented with 3500 – 4000 calories per day, considering the need for his / her physical fitness for duties.

Accordingly, this new scheme purely on the basis of providing a healthy lunch to All Ranks came into effect only within the formations of the SFHQ-West on experimental basis, effective from 1 January 2018. Deduction of the expenditure for this new ration arrangement were to be made against the salary of each soldier living outside, based only on the number of consumed lunch portions every month. However, those still wishing to bring their lunch daily from home were exempted from this scheme, if they so desire. Nevertheless, concerns or any other grievances to that effect are still being addressed by respective Commanding Officers on request since this project was just launched. Therefore, a question of any salary deduction does not arise as alleged and misinterpreted.

The Army said that it is also regretted to note that some politically-manipulated elements with vested interests are found behind regularly organized street protests of some disabled soldiers or members of their families, although their issues have been resolved to a large extent with 100% increase in their pension and disabled payments.

Those elements, serving different political agendas were also screened abusing a video commercial that has been produced solely by the Army for promotion of its image and the recruitment drive, now underway. This also amounts to an act that brings discredit to hundreds of War Heroes who truly defended the country’s sovereignty and peace and a deliberate attempt to associate the Army with political agendas, the Army said.

The Sri Lanka Army, now fully committed to the national security and nation-building roles of the country as the most sought service provider with strict focus on concerns of reconciliation and development, therefore appeals all segments of our society to keep the Army off from their machination and all acts of intentional vilification and public ridicule for the greater benefit of the nation. (Colombo Gazette)