Roshan Goonetileke

Roshan Goonetileke

Air Chief Marshal W.D.R.M.J. Goonetileke RWP & bar, VSV, USP, ndc, psc
Born (1956-02-28) 28 February 1956
Allegiance Sri Lanka Sri Lanka
Service/branch Sri Lanka Air Force
Years of service January 13, 1978 – February 27, 2011 (33 years)[1]
Rank Air Chief Marshal
Commands held Commander of the Sri Lankan Air Force
Chief of the Defence Staff
Battles/wars Sri Lankan Civil War
Awards Rana Wickrama Padakkama & BAR, Vishista Seva Vibhushanaya, Uttama Seva Padakkama

Air Chief Marshal WDRMJ Roshan Goonetileke RWP & bar, VSV, USP, ndc, psc was appointed the Chief of Defence Staff on 28 February 2011 on relinquishing Command of the Sri Lanka Air Force. He was the 12th Commander of the Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF) and is the eldest son of the 5th Commander of the Sri Lanka Air Force, late Air Chief Marshal Harry Goonetileke and the elder brother of late Group Captain Shirantha Goonetileke, who was killed in combat in 1995. He was the second serving service Commander to be appointed as Chief of Defence Staff whilst holding the office.

Early life

Born on 28 February 1956, he completed his education at St. Peter's College, Colombo Sri Lanka, where he excelled in both studies and sports. He joined the Sri Lanka Air Force as an Officer Cadet in the General Duties Pilot Branch on 13 January 1978. On successful completion of flying training, he was commissioned in the rank of Pilot Officer on 24 August 1979.

Air Force career

During his career of 33 years in the Sri Lanka Air Force, Air Chief Marshal WDRMJ Goonetileke held a number of Command, Operational and Administrative appointments. He logged many flying hours both in fixed and rotary wing aircraft serving as an operational pilot, as well as the Commanding Officer of No. 03 Maritime Squadron and No. 04 Helicopter Wing. He functioned as the Zonal Commander in both Northern and Eastern Zones, and commanded Air Force Bases Katunayake, Anuradhapura and China bay. He functioned as Director Operations, Deputy Chief of Staff Operations and Chief of Staff, prior to being appointed the Commander of the Air Force on 12 July 2006.

Air Chief Marshal WDRMJ Goonetileke graduated from the Air Command and Staff College, Air University, Alabama, USA in 1994 and attended the prestigious National Defence College in Pakistan in 2001. On 18 May 2009, he was promoted Air Chief Marshal, becoming the first ever serving Officer of the Sri Lanka Air Force to be promoted to four star rank.

He was admitted to the Degree of "Doctor of Philosophy" (Honoris Causa) by the University of Kelaniya, Sri Lanka on 20 November 2009, in recognition of his professional achievements as the Commander of the Air Force. He is also a fellow of the Institute of Management in Sri Lanka.

Principle concept of Command

Whilst being the Commander his endeavour was to create an environment in which personnel would be motivated, mentally and physically fit, and committed to serve the nation to the best of their ability not only in the primary SLAF role, but also in sports and all other activity. Throughout the sustained air campaign of the "Humanitarian Operations" he strategized with his senior commanders, providing for "opinion" and encouraging "consensus" for effective and efficient deployment of resources to ensure success. "Team" and "Team work" were the encouraged principles, with appreciation and reward processes, incorporated into the system.

Other Portfolios Held

He was made the Chairman of the Board of Management of Civil Aviation Authority of Sri Lanka (CAA of SL) with effect from 5 October 2009 until relinquishing duties on 28 December 2011.

Personal Life

Air Chief Marshal WDRMJ Goonetileke is married to Mrs. Nelun Goonetileke. They have a son and a daughter, Rehan and Ronali. Rehan following in the foot steps of his grand father, father and late uncle has already obtained his flying brevet from the Sri Lanka Air Force, and commenced a career as a Helicopter Pilot.

An avid sportsman, Goonetileke was heavily involved in the development of Sri Lanka Rugby, as the President of the Sri Lanka Rugby Football Union, serving two successful terms from 1 June 2010 to 11 January 2012. He was also appointed as "Chairman of the Board" of Waters Edge Ltd, a government-owned, multi-facility recreational and hospitality complex.


  1. Sri Lanka : New Sri Lanka Air Force Commander to be appointed. (2011-02-25). Retrieved on 2012-08-21.
Military offices
Preceded by
G D Perera
Commander of the Sri Lankan Air Force
Succeeded by
Harsha Abeywickrama
Preceded by
Sarath Fonseka
Chief of Defence Staff
2009 –
Succeeded by
Jagath Jayasuriya

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