13th Commander of the Air Force Commences Duties

Published on: 5:17pm on Monday 28th February 2011
13th Commander of the Air Force Commences Duties
Calls for team effort in taking SLAF to greater heights in address to staff

Air Marshal Harsha Abeywickrama formally commenced duties as the 13th Commander of the Air Force at SLAF Headquarters this morning on 27 February, 2011, calling for a unified team effort amongst all ranks.

“I am extremely happy to be the Commander of an Air Force like ours,” Air Marshal Abeywickrama stated during an inspiring address to an assembly of SLAF top brass and a cross section of the Air Force. The newly appointed Commander called for the fullest support from all ranks in the Air Force to work towards greater achievements in the future.

“We need to adjust ourselves towards development and  promote an organizational culture within the Air Force,” the Commander said emphasising on the importance of enhancing in-house capabilities especially in terms of servicing aircraft to minimise expenditure. The Commander of Air Force requested SLAF personnel to be considerate in their interactions with the civil society to instill a positive image of the Air Force in the mind of the public.

The Commander pledged to take the research and development aspects of the organization to new heights in the coming months and also highlighted the importance of looking into the welfare aspects of the personnel. “The focus should not be merely on the machine but the man behind the machine.”

Air Marshal Harsha Abeywickrama was a pioneer in flying both the F-7 and Kfir fighter Jets immediately after they were inducted to the Air Force and brings a vast amount of operational and technical experience with him to lead the organization.  The acts of bravery displayed by him during flying missions  in the North-East theatre have earned him the prestigious  ‘Rana Wickrama Padakkama’ and the ‘Rana Sura Padakkama’. The Commander is also a recipient of the ‘Utthama Seva Padakkama’ in recognition of exemplary conduct and commitment to duty.

In addition to being instrumental in the formation of the First Supersonic Fighter Squadron of the Sri Lanka Air Force and the Air Wing of the Defence Services Command & Staff College, the Commander was the driving force in developing the combat capability during the Humanitarian Operations throughout his tenure as Director of Air Operations.

The Commander’s impressive academic background includes a Master’s Degree in International Studies from Kings College, University of London, and a Master’s Degree in Management from the General Sir John Kotalawala Defence University in Sri Lanka.  He also attended the Royal College of Defence Studies in London, United Kingdom.  In addition, he holds a Commercial Pilot’s License with an Instrument Rating and is an A - 2 Qualified Flying Instructor.  He is also a graduate of the Air Command & Staff College, Air University, Alabama, USA.

Air Vice Marshal Harsha Abeywickrama is a product of Royal College, Colombo and practices a personnel leadership philosophy based on Buddhism.  His interests include Music, Philosophy and Golf. He is married to Neelika an Attorney-at-Law by profession and they are blessed with one son, Kasun who is an Undergraduate.

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