Army Chief Lt. Gen. Shantha Kottegoda yesterday said the army was not interested in politics and assured that the army would not interfere in it. `We are a professional and disciplined force,` he said, emphasising that whoever emerged the winner at the forthcoming presidential elections, should be able to bring peace to the country.
He was speaking to The Island after he addressed his officers and men on the 56 anniversary of the Sri Lanka Army at the Army Head Quarters.
He dismissed LTTE`s claims that the army, particularly the Directorate of Military Intelligence (DMI) was behind the bloody campaign led by rebel commander Karuna, who quit the organisation in March 2003.
He said all the paramilitary units were disbanded following the Oslo-arranged CFA over three years ago.
Asked in the event LTTE decides to return to war what the Army`s stand would be, he said `We all want peace in the country, but the army is prepared to face any eventuality. I have requested for sophisticated weapon systems as I want the Sri Lanka Army to be no second to any of the armies in the developed nations. We have a dedicated and devoted army who have proved their mettle.
Addressing his officers and men Kottegoda said `I wish to recall the numerous sacrifices the Sri Lanka Army has hitherto made towards safeguarding the sovereignty and territorial integrity of our motherland. During the history of the Army has successfully negotiated through both peace and war situations and progressively developed to its military capability.
Today we have won accolades in the whole of South Asia for conducting successful anti-terrorist operations`.
He added `We are able to achieve our goals due to the dedication, devotion, discipline and untiring efforts of our fellow members who served the Army in the past and those who are still serving and I am indeed privileged to command an Army very mature and experienced`
The Army Chief extended his gratitude to his men for the excellent display of dedication, devotion and the highest standards of military professionalism.
`Having fought a war for over two decades, for the last three years we have been going a through a transitional phase from war to peace` the Commander said adding that even though it was physically easy to acclimatise to a peaceful environment, mentally it posed many difficulties.
In the past as well as present, various complex internal conflicts in countries are resovled through dialogue, he said adding that during the 21-year period of war the army too experienced such efforts towards peace, but those efforts were either ignored or tactically, unilaterally sabotaged by Tiger terrorists thus forcing them to revert to war. `On all those occasions the Army within a very short period transformed from peace to war both mentally and physically and very successfully safeguarded the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the of this nation.It is indeed a matter of pride for us to say that we are now on par with other armies of the developed countries the world`.