Army lady officer excels at DSCSC | Sunday Observer

Army lady officer excels at DSCSC

The prudent American General Colin Powell once said “Excellence is an attitude”- this can be said of a dynamic Sri Lankan military officer. Major Swarnika Meegoda is a radiant example of a lady officer. This 33-year-old officer from Avissawella carved her name in the army record books as the first woman to qualify from the Defence Services Command and Staff College (DSCSC) earning the right to wear the Passed Staff College (Psc) badge. This is not an easy task for a woman, yet young Swarnika of the Signals Corps rose to the challenge and won. I met up with her to trace her journey from school to the life of an officer cadet and the appointment as a Course Officer.

Swarnika completed her primary education at Ruwanwella Maha Vidyalaya and passed the Grade 5 scholarship. This propelled her life and she came to Vishaka Vidyalaya Colombo - a school that has produced outstanding women in every field. During her school days Swarnika was drawn to the military uniform and did cadeting from 1999 to 2001. As a student cadet she took part in the annual camp at Rantambe where her platoon won the Gold Medal. This was the foundation for her future. She explains “as a cadet I went on a trip to the famous Military Academy at Diyatalawa, and was enticed by everything I saw”.

But she had to convince her parents before she decided to take on a military career, as she is the only daughter in the family. Having completed her A/L exam the choice was to enroll at the prestigious Kotelawela Defence University.

KDU has produced some outstanding military officers for the Army, Navy and Air Force. Swarnika joined Cadet Intake 24 in 2006, passing our as an Electrical and Electronic Engineer. At KDU there were only 10 women cadets in comparison to 100 male cadets. During the 3 years of academic studies, she also completed 1 year of combat training at the SLMA - Diyatalawa.

On conclusion of this demanding training she passed out as a Second Lieutenant and was assigned to the Signals Corps in 2011, due to her technical knowledge. She thus became the first lady officer of the Signals Corps which incidentally celebrates 75 years of service to the nation this year.

Whilst engaging in her duties as a Captain she was made aware of the chance to apply for the DSCSC entrance exam. This written exam has subjects such as logistics, combat tactics, current affairs and English language. Having passed she was enrolled in 2016 along with other male officers from the tri- forces. She is the first woman officer from the Army to enter the prestigious DSCSC.

This is a full year intense programme where many subjects must be mastered. Once again Swarnika passed the challenges and became the first woman from the army to win the credentials of Passed Staff College (psc). The course also bestows on them the Masters degree in Defence and Strategic Studies. I asked Major Swarnika how this experience was “This was not the first time I was away from home. I was in the hostel in Colombo and later at the KDU. Gender is not a matter or barrier for anything.

The nature of a challenge depends on how we accept the challenge. I always had a positive attitude. My regiment (Signals Corps) supported and encouraged me. I always tell my cadets today – “Don’t limit challenges, challenge your limits”. With all her achievements Major. Meegoda remains a humble lady. Presently she serves as a Course Officer at the Military Academy, Diyatalawa, where she transforms female civilians into military officers- a role that begins each day at 5.45 am with a round of PT. The young cadets are taught all military skills and academic subjects. Swarnika is an ardent reader and is inspired by the philosophy of great Russian and Chinese writers.

The salubrious climate of the hills is indeed perfect to read and reflect. She has enhanced her career with courses in India, Philippines and Uganda. Major.

Swarnika Meegoda is a glowing example to all young women. Her determination has shown that tough challenges can be encountered and turned into sustained success.