Air Chief Marshal WDRMJ
RWP & bar, VSV, USP, ndc, psc
Chief of Defence Staff
Air Chief Marshal WDRMJ Goonetileke 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.
Born on the 28th of 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 13th January 1978. On successful completion
of flying training, he was commissioned in the rank of Pilot
Officer on 24th August 1979.
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 when serving as an operational pilot. For bravery
displayed in conduct of operations, he was awarded the
Gallantry Medal "Rana Wikrama Padakkama" twice.
He 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.
He was appointed the Commander of the Air Force on 12
June 2006. On 18th 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.
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
On 16 November 2009, he was appointed as the Acting Chief
of Defence Staff in addition to his incumbent duties as the
Commander of the Air Force. He was then made the Chairman of
the Board of Management of Civil Aviation Authority of Sri
Lanka (CAA of SL) with effect from 5th October 2009 until
relinquishing duties on 28 December 2011. An avid sportsman
he was also at the helm developing Sri Lanka Rugby, as the
President of the Sri Lanka Rugby Football Union serving two
successful terms from 01June 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
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.
Air Chief Marshal WDRMJ Goonetileke is married to Mrs.
Nelun Goonetileke. They are blessed with a son and a
daughter, Rehan and Ronali.