Author Topic: Former Canadian general Andrew Leslie a serious contender to be next CDS  (Read 13386 times)

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Former Canadian general Andrew Leslie a serious contender to be next military boss

By Matthew Fisher, Postmedia News August 13, 2012 10:17 AM

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LONDON – Retired three-star army general Andrew Leslie has been interviewed as a possible successor to Gen. Walt Natynczyk as chief of defence staff, Postmedia News has learned.

According to several recent accounts from those who work closely with Natynczyk, the former tank commander is still heavily involved in the military’s day to day operations. However, the top brass believes it is only a matter of weeks, if not days, before Natynczyk steps aside.

Leslie, an artillery officer, was the author of a report the military commissioned two years ago that provided a broad blueprint for steep staff cuts to military personnel and civilians at national defence headquarters. As part of a major structural rethink, it also called for shrinking the number of civilian contractors at the Department of National Defence.

Leslie’s recommendations have not been an easy sell within the military. But given budget constraints that have not been helped by the global economic crisis, they were precisely what Prime Minister Stephen Harper wanted to hear and their influence could be seen in the federal austerity budget introduced in the spring.

I first floated the possibility of Leslie as a possible CDS in a column several months ago. Then as now, Leslie’s biggest handicap is that if he is chosen to succeed two other army officers, Natynczyk and Rick Hillier, it would interrupt the traditional practise of rotating the top job among the army, air force and navy.

Others have wondered about how Leslie, who was passed over when Natynczyk was selected by Harper in 2008, would fit in with the prime minister’s highly partisan crowd. These doubts arise because Leslie has strong family connections to the Liberal party stretching more than half a century.

Leslie is the grandson of former chief of the general staff and minister of national defence Andrew McNaughton, a general who commanded Canadian troops in both world wars and was a friend of William Lyon Mackenzie King. Leslie is also the grandson of former minister of national defence Brooke Claxton, who served in the cabinets of King and Louis St. Laurent.

Leslie retired from the army last September to lead CGI Group’s new office in Ottawa. According to the IT company’s Canadian web site, it works with the military on public safety, biometrics, cyber security, operation logistics and training.

Bringing back a retired general is not without precedent. Army general John de Chastelain returned to duty for a fairly short second term as CDS in 1994. The United States has also sometimes brought back retired generals to serve in key posts.

Leslie has an excellent record. After commanding a regiment of guns at Shilo, Man., he held a senior job with the United Nations force in Croatia and did a tour in Kabul in 2003 as deputy commander of the International Security Assistance Force. He served as the commander of the army for four years before taking on responsibility for transformation.

Usually by this point in the process to name a new CDS, there has been a strategic leak from the prime minister’s office, the defence minister’s office or from within national defence headquarters about who it is. But if a decision has been made, everyone is being tight-lipped this time.

What is known is that the government was not satisfied with the original list of flag officers proposed by DND, and directed that the list of prospective candidates be expanded. There have been heavy-duty rumours that Leslie has been interviewed for the position. But so have several serving officers.

Another leading contender may be Vice-Admiral Paul Maddison, who took over the Navy last year. His name has been persistently mentioned, and not only because his navy colleagues have been campaigning hard on his behalf. Quiet and with a strong financial background, Maddison’s style and inclinations may fit the temper of these times.

Whether Leslie or Maddison or an air force officer such as Lt.-Gen. Tom Lawson, who flew F-104 Starfighters and F-18 Hornets in Germany and is now NORAD’s deputy commander in Colorado, is named as the next CDS, the position may be a poisoned chalice. There has been controversy over the purchase of new fighter aircraft. The Navy is involved in the purchase of new ships that are even more costly than new fighter jets. A fortune has been spent on refurbished submarines without much yet in return.

Whether it is Leslie or Maddison or someone else, there must be a lot of serious thought about the kind of force Canada requires and can afford. It is a high-tech world of cyber warfare and lethal unmanned aircraft, Asia is ascendant, and major security challenges remain with rogue states and other menaces in the Middle East and South Asia.
© Copyright (c) Postmedia News

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CDS - on the shortlist, army commander Lt.-Gen. Peter Devlin
« Reply #1 on: August 15, 2012, 10:40:03 PM »
Search for Canada's top general behind schedule

Delay cause unclear, but decision not likely until at least September
By James Cudmore, CBC News
Posted: Aug 15, 2012 5:05 AM ET
Last Updated: Aug 15, 2012 5:00 AM ET

MacKay defends process, says CDS pick coming in 'very near future'
Canadian Forces recruitment woes

The search for a new head of the Canadian Forces has slipped more than a month behind schedule.

CBC News has learned Gen. Walt Natynczyk, Canada's outgoing chief of defence staff, has already held his own going away party — a cottage barbecue attended by close staff held in June.

Sources tell CBC News the military was planning for a late July change of command ceremony to herald the appointment of a new chief.

But, now it seems there will likely be no decision until at least the beginning of September. And even that date might be optimistic.

Natynczyk is said to have extracted from the Conservative government the promise of a month's warning before the top general will be formally ushered out the door, and no such warning has yet been issued.

It's not clear what is causing the delay. But CBC News has learned the process to select a new chief of the defence staff has become more formal than ever before, with a selection committee interviewing a large number of contenders for the job.

This is the second time such a process has been used.

The selection panel that chose Natynczyk was made up of Defence Minister Peter MacKay, his deputy, and a group of senior bureaucrats including the clerk of the privy council, according to a source familiar with the process.

That panel invited several candidates for interviews, and made at least one recommendation to the prime minister.
Top military job more political now

It appears the same process is being used this time, but the process is now said to be much more under the control of the prime minister and his senior bureaucrats.

"This is the prime minister's CDS," the source said. "It's clear that he has to be very comfortable with the person who is in the job."

Prime ministers have not always expressed such interest.

In years — and decades — gone by, prime ministers have sometimes just rubber-stamped the appointment, based on the recommendation of their minister of defence.
Gen. Walt Natynczyk, Canada's outgoing chief of defence staff, held a going away party in June, a source told CBC News.
Gen. Walt Natynczyk, Canada's outgoing chief of defence staff, held a going away party in June, a source told CBC News. Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press

But, over the years, the top military job has become more political and the person who wins the job is destined to be featured on the evening news, and a household name (former military chief Rick Hillier, for example).

This time around there are only a few contenders who, at first glance, appear to have the required charisma.

Lt.-Gen. Stuart Beare, currently commander of all of Canada's overseas forces, is one of them.

Beare is an artillery officer and a former paratrooper, who most recently served as deputy commander of NATO's police training mission in Afghanistan.

Lt.-Gen. Tom Lawson is an air force officer who impressed with his deft handling of media questions at news conferences during the war in Libya last summer. Lawson is currently deputy commander of the North American Air Defence Command in Colorado.

In both cases, these generals are relatively new to their high ranks.
Wildcard candidate a retired general

The commanders of at least two of the military's three services are also said to be on the shortlist, army commander Lt.-Gen. Peter Devlin and navy commander Vice-Admiral Paul Maddison.

It's believed the navy's strongest competitor for the top job — a position it hasn't held since 1997 — is Vice-Admiral Bruce Donaldson.

Donaldson is currently the vice-chief of the defence staff under Natynczyk. He also commanded all domestic military forces during the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, and the G8 and G20 summits that followed. Donaldson had previously served as the director of the strategic joint staff — a highly political job in the middle of every important issue and operation at the centre of national defence headquarters.

It's possible air force commander Lt.-Gen. André Deschamps has been interviewed but he's not said to be a serious contender. Deschamps would also come with political baggage, being the air force face behind the controversial decision to sole-source the purchase of the F-35 fighter jet.

The wildcard candidate is not even in the military.

Retired lieutenant-general Andrew Leslie was once believed to be a shoe-in for the job.

He's a highly respected former general who is well-liked across Ottawa and is charming when he appears on television and before parliamentary committees.

Leslie is also the grandson of two former defence ministers: Brooke Claxton and general Andrew McNaughton, who fought in the First World War, became a peacetime chief of the general staff and fought in the Second World War.
Getting Leslie back in uniform is challenging

Leslie was in the spotlight more than a year ago after issuing a blockbuster report on how to remake the Canadian Forces from top to bottom.
Lt.-Gen. Stuart Beare, currently commander of all of Canada's overseas forces, is one possible pick for chief of defence staff.
Lt.-Gen. Stuart Beare, currently commander of all of Canada's overseas forces, is one possible pick for chief of defence staff. Murray Brewster/Canadian Press

That report was well-received by politicians, but derided in some corners of the defence department. At the time, it was posited Leslie would be asked to remain in the military in order to become chief of defence staff and implement his report.

But Leslie has now retired, and bringing him back into uniform is politically challenging for the government — although not without precedent. General Jean de Chastelain held the top military job until 1993, and then served again from 1994-95 at the request of then-prime minister Jean Chretien.

But, in the case of Leslie, at least one senior government official has mocked the media speculation surrounding Leslie's primacy in the race.

There are other high-profile names that have been bandied about as possible successors to Natynczyk, including Maj.-Gen. Jon Vance, who commanded in Afghanistan, and another Afghanistan veteran, Maj.-Gen Mike Day, formerly Canada's most senior special forces soldier. But CBC News has been advised to rank these two generals as low on the shortlist — if they're even on it.

Much has been made in Ottawa about the predominance of army generals in the top job over the years. But one source familiar with the process that selected Natynczyk said too much was being made of that complaint. Although it's important to have an air force general or navy admiral in the top job at some point, it doesn't have to be this time, he said.

"It's not the most important factor."

MacKay defends process, says CDS pick coming in 'very near future'
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TAYLOR: Next defence chief may be a surprise to media
« Reply #2 on: August 20, 2012, 10:12:37 AM »
TAYLOR: Next defence chief may be a surprise to media

August 20, 2012 - 4:03am By SCOTT TAYLOR On Target

Gen. Walt Natynczyk, left, shakes hands with in Lt.-Gen. Peter Devlin after he was handed over command of the army from Lt.-Gen. Andrew Leslie during a ceremony at the National War Museum in Ottawa on June 21, 2010. (CP)

It is becoming increasingly obvious that Prime Minister Stephen Harper is having a difficult time in choosing a successor to Gen. Walter Natynczyk, chief of defence staff.

Although there is no set term for the appointment, it was widely expected that Natynczyk would retire this summer after four years as Canada’s top soldier.

In fact, the grounds at the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa were tentatively booked to stage an early July change of command parade, but those arrangements had to be put on hold when Harper’s office failed to make their selection of Natynczyk’s replacement.

While the names of military brass are not commonly discussed in civilian circles, there has been media speculation since early spring as to which of the eligible candidates would get the promotion.

Last week, the debate was sparked anew when Postmedia columnist Matthew Fisher reported that recently retired Lt.-Gen. Andrew Leslie had been interviewed by the Prime Minister’s Office for the chief of defence staff job.

It would not be unprecedented for the government to reinstate a retired general to the job, and in his final task in uniform, Leslie produced a controversial blueprint to transform the Canadian military into a more cost-effective entity.

Given that Harper has stated his intention to cut federal spending, it would seem a logical choice for him to bring back the transformation architect to oversee the implementation.

It may have made sense, but it wasn’t true.

No one was more surprised to learn that Leslie had been interviewed for the job than Leslie himself. This, in turn, led to Postmedia issuing a correction and an apology to Leslie. However, the damage had been done and the national media were once again scrutinizing the eligible list of candidates.

What is interesting about Fisher’s mistake is that he is not new to the defence beat. For years now, Fisher has prided himself on having established close contacts to the senior brass, so presumably whoever fed him the misleading information concerning Leslie did so for a reason.

It is unfortunate that, in this instance, Fisher was used as a pawn in what appears to be an increasingly Machiavellian power play to position the next chief of defence staff.

The good news for Canadian Forces is that, unlike during what former chief of defence staff Gen. Rick Hillier deemed the “decade of darkness,” there is no shortage of qualified, competent military leadership to choose from.

After more than a decade of continuous conflict in Afghanistan, the result has been to create a cadre of tested commanders who have a wealth of operational experience.

With talented candidates from all three service branches, the old argument arises about a rotation cycle for the job.

While, in theory, this position would alternate between the army, navy and air force, in practice, this has never really been the case.

In fact, in the past 25 years, through 10 incumbents, the Royal Canadian Navy has only had one chief of defence staff and he served in the post less than a year.

The Canadian Forces also spent a couple of years following the Somalia scandal without a formally appointed chief of defence staff.

In other words, despite what many pundits speculate, there is no real set formula for the selection.

The fact that army officers have held the post for the past two terms in no way precludes the fact that another army lieutenant-general could be promoted to replace Natynczyk.

If that is the case, army Lt.-Gen. Peter Devlin would be an excellent choice.

Throughout the course of his career, Devlin has proved his mettle in action — he was wounded in Sarajevo, Bosnia, in 1992 and impressed his United States peers during an exchange posting that saw him deployed to Iraq from 2006 to 2008.

More importantly, Devlin’s leadership appears to inspire confidence and loyalty from those who have served with him.

While he is not considered a front-runner in the media’s chief of defence staff replacement sweepstakes, if one takes the time to read the comments after those stories, Devlin’s name is repeatedly put forward by his former soldiers.

There is no doubt that the Canadian Forces will be facing some challenging obstacles in the months ahead, and they will need a chief of defence staff they can trust to put their collective best interest first.

Devlin has that trust.

Scott Taylor is an author and editor of Esprit de Corps magazine.
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Military man: Leslie a good — and logical — choice for next defence chief

By Peter Worthington ,QMI Agency

First posted: Sunday, August 19, 2012 08:00 PM EDT

The scramble is on in the military for the next chief of defence staff — the highest rank in our military and the one who commands, controls, administers the Canadian Forces, and implements the government’s defence policies.

Gen. Walt Natynczyk has held the post since mid-2008, succeeding Gen. Rick Hillier who, arguably, was our most colourful, outspoken and dynamic CDS. In the public’s mind, Hillier personified our military’s achievements in Afghanistan.

A former deputy commander of the U.S. Army’s

III Corps in Iraq, under Natynczyk as CDS Canada’s role in Afghanistan was ratcheted down, the DND budget was trimmed, DND staff due to be culled, future missions restricted. This wasn’t Natynczyk’s doing — it’s government policy for him to administer.

Three years is about the average term for a CDS — a role instigated in 1964 to speak for and co-ordinate the commanders of the navy, army and air force.

And speculation is rife among the three services as to who is most likely to be the next CDS.

A couple of admirals, several army generals and an air force general are mentioned as possible candidates, but in these harsh economic times of cutbacks and the need for updated equipment, it seems the one most qualified to be CDS may be Lt.-Gen. Andrew Leslie, former chief of land staff, who was subsequently chief of transformation of the Canadian Forces.

Leslie retired last fall but, like Gen. John de Chastelain before him, could be seconded out of retirement to be CDS. Leslie’s report — recommending changes and efficiencies in the Forces without affecting performance — worried the military but was popular with the PM, who is economizing every way he can.

Although there would be miffed feelings — even resentment — among contenders for the CDS job, it’s pretty hard to argue against Leslie’s credentials.

He was bypassed for CDS when Hillier and Natynczyk got the job, but he’s served as a commander in Afghanistan, as well as in the Balkans, and on paper seems a natural.

Critics point out that the CDS job traditionally is rotated through the three services, but that’s not quite true. Both Hillier and Natynczyk were army — both Armoured Corps. Leslie is a gunner — former CO of the Royal Canadian Horse Artillery.

Canada’s penchant for rotating command for political purposes resulted in disaster when instead of appointing the most qualified officer to command the Airborne Regiment when it went on a UN Chapter Seven (fighting) mission to Somalia, political considerations demanded that an inexperienced colonel from the Van Doos get the job.

A Princess Pats commander was the logical choice, but it was the Van Doos’ turn. The outcome was the torture death of a Somali civilian and an inquiry that resulted in the Airborne Regiment being disbanded.

In 1983-89, an air force general succeeded another air force general as CDS, and then, of course Natyncyzk followed Hillier, 2005-12. The last admiral to hold the post was Larry Murray (1996-97), and the last air force CDS was Ray Henault (2001-05).

Whoever becomes the new CDS is going to have a thankless job of ensuring the military remains effective despite an insufficient budget, limited updated equipment and with reduced numbers in the Canadian Forces.

It’s a daunting task, but one that Gen. Leslie seems to have anticipated in his report, so perhaps he is a logical choice for the job.
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Harper and MacKay Bid Farewell To Chief of the Defence Staff Gen. Walter Natynczyk?

August 24, 2012. 7:06 pm • Section: Defence Watch

Stephanie Levitz of THE CANADIAN PRESS is reporting this:
CHURCHILL, Man. — There were strong signals Friday that Canada’s chief of the defence staff is on the verge of leaving his post.

While speaking to Canadian Forces troops taking part in annual summer exercises up north, both Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Defence Minister Peter MacKay sounded like they were bidding farewell to Gen. Walt Natynczyk.

Harper cut away from his prepared remarks at the close of Operation Nanook to thank Natynczyk for his years of service. “Let me use this opportunity in front of so many of your people here to thank you and congratulate you on over four years of fine service as chief of the defence staff of Canada,” Harper said. After Harper’s speech, MacKay took the podium to publicly salute Natynczyk’s dedication to the military.
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Natynczyk took his job to heart, say friends
« Reply #5 on: September 02, 2012, 11:00:25 AM »
Natynczyk took his job to heart, say friends

If you ask Gen. Walt Natynczyk about the legacy he'll leave behind, those who know Canada's top soldier say he'll furrow his brow and take a pass on the question.

However, those same people aren't too shy to describe the chief of defence staff's contribution to the military as he prepares to pass the baton to Lt.-Gen. Tom Lawson in the next few weeks.

"It's just a question of caring deeply about the soldiers," said retired colonel Alain Pellerin, executive director of the Conference of Defence Associations Institute. "(Natynczyk has) spent a lot of time on the road, whether it's visits to Afghanistan or visits to bases."

While Natynczyk declined comment, his supporters were more than willing to speak on his behalf.

Earlier in his 37-year military career, troops dubbed Natynczyk "Uncle Walt" because of the way he took a personal interest in their well-being.

The general's top spokesman says Natynczyk, 55, and his wife Leslie, have tried to hard to improve the way wounded soldiers and military families are taken care of.

"They've championed a number of causes and a number of initiatives to basically make sure no one is forgotten, no one is left behind," said Lt.-Cmdr. Kris Phillips.

He points to Natynczyk's efforts to strengthen care for soldiers suffering from combat stress, while also spearheading a still-developing program to make it easier for military families to access doctors when postings move them from province to province.

"Everything for him is very personal and he takes a very deep personal interest in it, as does Mrs. Natynczyk," said Phillips.

Phillips recalls the outgoing chief stopping by the Victoria home of a military veteran diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumour to thank him for his service.

"It's amazing when you happen to be there, when you're seeing one of these visits going on and you see how much it means to the person," said Phillips. "I mean it just bowls people over."

Others credit Natynczyk with keeping a steady hand during combat in Afghanistan, and then transitioning to training Afghan forces.

"He was constantly on the ground and was a very effective leader," said Don Macnamara, a former brigadier-general who teaches at Queen's University. "He was the guy that had to create the atmosphere and be reassuring to the political forces as well."

Pellerin says Natynczyk's public communication efforts about Afghanistan helped to build a "love story" that saw civilians on overpasses honouring fallen soldiers as their caskets were driven down the Highway of Heroes from CFB Trenton to Toronto.

Repatriation ceremonies for fallen soldiers were always something very personal for Natynczyk.

"I've seen the look on his face change almost on every single occasion when he's spoken about these types of issues," said Phillips.

Natynczyk also faced media controversy during his tenure.

He dealt with a series of reports about alleged mistreatment of detainees by Afghan authorities after being handed over by Canadian soldiers.

Ultimately, the allegations fizzled following last year's release of government documents about prisoner transfers.

Natynczyk also came under heavy fire for his use of government planes.

Much of the criticism centred on using a Challenger jet in 2010 to join his vacationing family in the Caribbean because Natynczyk had missed his commercial flight while attending a repatriation ceremony.

Natynczyk's smile never disappeared in the thick of the media storm, but it was a difficult time for him, despite getting Defence Minister Peter MacKay's approval for the flight.

"He has expressed some frustration, yes," said Phillips. "That was one of things that was also very personal for him in that, as I say, he has so much integrity and has always tried to do the right thing."

Despite Natynczyk's offer to repay the flight's cost if found inappropriate, the government hasn't asked for a dime.

Natynczyk has never been totally satisfied with how military procurements have gone, especially with delays in shipbuilding and the F-35 stealth fighter controversy.

"I think he would say that there are successes in the procurement file and he'd also say that we still have work to do in other files," said Phillips.

Meanwhile, don't expect a change of command ceremony like Gen. Rick Hillier's costly spectacle in 2008 that saw the outgoing chief of defence staff ride in on a tank.

At Natynczyk's request, he'll hand the keys to Lawson in a low-key ceremony.

** *** *** **

"What you see in public is what we get to see here in private. So, what we get to see behind closed doors is someone who is trying to do the right thing, someone who cares deeply, someone who is so genuine in his approach that it's astounding in many ways." - Lt.-Cmd. Kris Phillips, public affairs officer to the chief of the defence staff

"I know that he and the prime minister were pretty close and I'm sure that Walt would be giving the prime minister the unvarnished truth. What the prime minister or other politicians would want to do with that would be in their hands, but he would not hold back." - retired brigadier-general Don Macnamara, Queen's University professor

"He did a fine job in running the armed forces during the period, and also, I think, communicating with the public on what the armed forces are doing in Afghanistan." - retired colonel Alain Pellerin, executive director of the Conference of Defence Associations Institute

"I've seen some guys throw their notebook across the room, they get so frustrated by things. But, if he does that, he does that in private. He's cheerful. He's efficient. He's keen." - retired lieutenant-colonel Doug Bland, Queen's University professor

Gen. Walt Natynczyk

Born: Oct. 29, 1957 in Winnipeg

Parents: German immigrant mother, Polish immigrant father

Religion: Roman Catholic

Married to wife Leslie: June 1982

Children: Margaret, William, and John, who serve in the Navy, Air Force and Army respectively.

Education: Business Administration Degree, Royal Roads Military College

Joined military: 1975

Key Postings:

- UN peacekeeping duties in Cyprus in 1984, Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1994

- Commanded Royal Canadian Dragoons during the Winnipeg floods of 1997 and 1998 Ice Storm in Ottawa region

- Deputy Commanding General, U.S. III Corps as military exchange officer, deployed to Iraq in 2004

- Became chief of defence staff on Jul. 2, 2008

Visits to Afghanistan as chief of defence staff: 16


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Natynczyk on war, leadership and being 'Walt from Winnipeg'
« Reply #6 on: September 10, 2012, 06:58:07 PM »
Natynczyk on war, leadership and being 'Walt from Winnipeg'

Outgoing Chief of Defence Staff talks about the demands of being Canada's top general
By James Cudmore, CBC News
Posted: Sep 10, 2012 5:05 PM ET
Last Updated: Sep 10, 2012 5:13 PM ET
Read 4 comments4

Gen. Walt Natynczyk, outgoing Chief of Defence Staff, says he took on the demands of being Canada's top general out of a sense of duty, but he's looking forward to being 'Walt from Winnipeg' again. (James Cudmore/CBC)

Gen. Walt Natynczyk says after four years as Canada's top general he is stepping down of his own accord.

Earlier this year, he told the government he'd be willing to retire sometime this year, and laid out a schedule for his replacement.

That schedule has slipped and slipped and now CBC News has learned the new of the Chief of the Defence Staff, Lt.-Gen. Tom Lawson won't take over until October, at the earliest.

In an exclusive interview with CBC News, conducted aboard a government Challenger jet, Natynczyk talked about his experience in the job and what it demands, inadvertently raising a key difference with his replacement.

Natynczyk had been talking about war and operational experience. He said it is a crucible in which true leadership is forged.

"The level of competence and confidence that comes from that, is extraordinary, and it is army, navy, air force, special forces, it crosses the gamut of the services," he said. "It crosses all the ranks, including to the senior leadership who have all had multiple tours, in different environments, and can, therefore, can look at problems and issues back here at home, through the lens of all that operational experience."

    'They all sign up voluntarily, God bless them. They all want to make a contribution for peace and security. They all want to make a contribution for Canada. We ask them to do extraordinary things, but like my own kids, you want to protect them.'—Gen. Walt Natynczyk on Canadian Forces personnel

Natynczyk said war — or peacekeeping, at least — "changes the nature of who you are, and it changes the threshold of where you actually get excited."

He recounted a story from his own career, when he was posted in 1995 from a peacekeeping command in Bosnia back to Ottawa.

"I was working at National Defence Headquarters and people were dumping these big problems on my desk, and I said, 'Well, you know what? This is easy, because unlike Sarajevo, no one is shooting at me!''

Natynczyk's replacement, Lt.-Gen. Tom Lawson, has none of that peacekeeping or war-fighting experience.

Lawson's a former fighter pilot who served in Germany during the Cold War, but he wears no ribbons for combat or peacekeeping missions overseas.

Lawson spent the last year as deputy commander of NORAD — the North American air defence agency.
The military's 'mayor'

Natynczyk gave his interview to the CBC in the back of a military Challenger business jet, on the way to Lawson's NORAD headquarters at Peterson Air Force base in Colorado Springs, CO.

There, Natynczyk witnessed Lawson hand his job to a replacement and thanked him for his "extraordinary leadership."

Natynczyk said he is pleased with the quality of the force he's handing over — a force that has grown now to more than 100,000 men and women in uniform: "It's a small city," Natynczyk said. "And I'm the mayor."

"They all sign up voluntarily, God bless them. They all want to make a contribution for peace and security. They all want to make a contribution for Canada. We ask them to do extraordinary things, but like my own kids, you want to protect them."

Natynczyk says his greatest accomplishment was keeping that growing force in fighting shape at a time when it was being asked to do more than at any time in the three decades before.

At one point in 2010, Natynczyk commanded nearly 12,000 troops either on operation, or preparing to go on one. Those missions ranged from Afghanistan to Haiti, from the Olympics, back home, to protecting the G8 and G20 summits.

He has regrets, too. Notably, Natynczyk is disappointed military procurements have become so difficult to manage. This, he says, needs work.
Distressed by toll on soldiers

But the outgoing chief of the defence staff says he is most distressed by DND's inability to properly come to grip with the operational stress and mental health issues that are beginning to seem a plague on the force.

"We've come a long way, but we're not quite there yet with mental health. We're not there at all."

Natynczyk is the second general in a row who was of the new breed of Canadian military leader.

He, and Gen. Rick Hillier before him, motivated soldiers and engaged Canadians through the strength of their character, not just the weight of their gold-embellished epaulettes.
The view from up high: the wing of the Challenger jet winging Gen. Walt Natynczyk to NORAD's farewell salute to his successor, Lt.-Gen. Tom Lawson.The view from up high: the wing of the Challenger jet winging Gen. Walt Natynczyk to NORAD's farewell salute to his successor, Lt.-Gen. Tom Lawson. (James Cudmore/CBC)

Natynczyk says CDS was a job he never wanted, but he says the imperative of duty, instilled in him since joining the Canadian Forces at the age of 17, compelled him to step up.

"That's what's important. That was in my mind when I said to Rick Hillier, 'Hey listen, I don't want the job. It's a tough job. You got to work hard. But if Canada is asking me to do this, and if this is a call to duty, than I am there for you, and when I am there, I am all in.'"

It was an unusual decision for a man who confesses he would have been happy spending his career as a captain, commanding a troop of tanks.

Although, on this day, Natynczyk seems quite comfortable chitchatting with fellow generals and senior bureaucrats in the back of a private jet, he says he was not, to the manor born.

"I am Walt from Winnipeg, from north-end Winnipeg, from the rough side of the tracks, and I was never born with a silver spoon in my mouth." And it's to that place, conceptually, at least, that Natynczyk says he's looking forward to returning.

"We've built a little retirement place, and we are looking forward to continuing to work the chainsaws and splitters and chippers out there, 'cause it really is a cleansing kind of time," he said.

"I'm looking forward to being a normal Canadian. I am looking for to being a private citizen, and to just being Walt from Winnipeg, again."


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Gen. Tom Lawson takes over as Canada’s chief of defence staff
« Reply #7 on: October 29, 2012, 02:03:00 PM »
Gen. Tom Lawson takes over as Canada’s chief of defence staff

Published on Monday October 29, 2012
Bruce Campion-Smith
Ottawa Bureau Chief

OTTAWA—In a ceremony on Monday, Lt.-Gen. Tom Lawson was promoted to full general and formally given the task of heading the country’s fighting forces.

He takes over from Gen. Walt Natynczyk, who is retiring after four years in the post and a 37-year military career.

Gov. Gen. David Johnston, who also serves as commander-in-chief, presided over the change-of-command ceremony, held at the Canadian War Museum.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Defence Minister Peter MacKay attended the event, along with the senior leadership of the armed forces.

The event featured a viceregal salute, a 21-gun salute and military pomp and circumstance. But it was far more low-key event than the display that sent Natynczyk’s predecessor, Gen. Rick Hillier, into retirement in 2008.

Natynczyk got a standing ovation as he took the podium for his final speech as the top general. But he turned the praise back on the men and women who served under him, saying their courage and service at home and abroad has made a difference in the lives of Canadians.

He said the defence of Canada started “10,000 kilometres away” on the front lines in southern Afghanistan, where Canadian troops turned back the Taliban.

“Today’s forces are better for that combat experience,” he said.

At home, he noted Canadian troops have helped evacuate Canadians from forest fires and floods and save lives through search-and-rescue missions.

He also sounded a caution against the climate of budget cuts, saying investments are needed to keep the military

“My duty is complete. The nation is secure, and it’s time to hand over responsibilities to a great officer,” said Natynczyk.

Johnston, in his comments, highlighted the dedication of Natynczyk and his wife Leslie to the men and women in uniform.

“General, in your many speeches to the brave, to the ill and injured, to the medal recipients and to their families, I would often hear you say, ‘I’m proud to be your chief of defence staff,’ ” Johnston told the assembled crowd. “To both you and Leslie, I offer my deepest thanks for your service to Canada.”

Harper also touched on Natynczyk’s loyalty to his troops, especially those wounded in their service.

But the prime minister also laid out clear direction for the incoming defence staff chief, stating unequivocally that the defence department will not be spared the cost-cutting underway across all departments.

“The forces must be restructured,” he stated bluntly, adding that administrative overhead must be trimmed — “more teeth, less tail” — and redirected to the front lines.

Harper said the goal is a “modern, general purpose” military that must be equally adept at providing disaster relief as well as lethal force.

Lawson comes to the military’s top job from the air force. A graduate of the Royal Military College of Canada, he went on to fly CF-104 Starfighter jets in Europe and later their replacements, CF-18 Hornets. He has held a variety of staff jobs, including wing commander of CFB Trenton and commandant of the Royal Military College.

Most recently, he was based at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado, where he served as deputy commander of the North American Aerospace Defence Command.

Lawson’s initial challenge promises to be squeezing savings from the armed forces. After a decade of operations in Afghanistan, the military is under pressure to find as much as $1 billion in administration savings.

In a statement, MacKay praised Natynczyk for his “outstanding and compassionate leadership during a very challenging period in the history of our military.”

But he said he was confident that the military would remain in “good hands” under Lawson’s leadership.

“I’m confident that his experience and vision will serve him well as he leads our men and women in uniform,” MacKay said.


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'Very little fat' in military, says Canada's new top soldier
« Reply #8 on: October 29, 2012, 07:56:00 PM »
'Very little fat' in military, says Canada's new top soldier


OTTAWA — The Globe and Mail

Published Monday, Oct. 29 2012, 10:17 AM EDT

Last updated Monday, Oct. 29 2012, 7:44 PM EDT

Canada’s new top soldier, under pressure to cope with defence spending cuts, is rejecting the notion that the military is rich with fat to be trimmed – and suggesting he might look at scaling back planned equipment purchases to save money.

General Tom Lawson, a former CF-104 Starfighter pilot who took over as Chief of the Defence Staff Monday, has been ordered to make cuts without affecting Canada’s fighting capability.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper even made a point of reminding the new general of this during a transfer-of-command ceremony Monday in Ottawa, telling an audience of soldiers, sailors and airmen that Gen. Lawson must aim for “more teeth and less tail” as he overhauls the forces to “ensure administrative burdens are reduced and resources freed up for the front line.”

But Gen. Lawson, speaking to reporters later, was vague on how he’d accomplish all this while he’s also committed to keeping the size of the military’s regular force at the levels ordered by the Conservatives. The Tories vowed to bring regular forces to 70,000 in their 2008 defence strategy statement – during budget good times – but have since throttled this back to 68,000.

“I would like to say there’s very little fat,” Gen. Lawson told reporters, repeating later, “You’re asking me where is the fat and I am saying there is very little fat.”

The former head of the army, Lieutenant-General Andrew Leslie, left the impression in 2011 that there was bloat at National Defence when a report he authored recommended taking an axe to its headquarters by dismissing or reassigning thousands of workers to save money.

Liberal and Conservative governments increased military spending by more than 50 per cent between 2004 and 2010, justifying this as necessary to properly equip and support troops fighting in Afghanistan.

Over those six years, the number of people serving in National Defence grew 18 per cent. But the number of regular Forces personnel – the people who carry guns, fly planes and man ships – grew only 11 per cent, while the civilian work force swelled by 33 per cent.

Gen. Lawson acknowledged he could trim headquarter staff but suggested the end of Canada’s combat missions in Afghanistan and Libya would be effective in saving the Forces money.

“Primarily what we’re going to see is as we come back from two sets of combat missions, we’re immediately going to be finding a savings … that comes with the decrease in operations.”

However, the military received extra cash infusions for Afghanistan outside of its regular budget and it no longer has these reserves to draw upon.

A leaked letter made public last week showed Mr. Harper told Defence Minister Peter MacKay last spring that his initial budget plans did not cut deep enough. It’s expected defence cuts will add up to $2.5-billion a year by 2014.

Gen. Lawson was sanguine about the budget squeeze. He said probably two-thirds of his 35-year career has been spent “within budgets that were very tight.”

He also signalled the military might shelve some planned equipment purchases. “Some of those numbers that we see in the Canada First Defence Strategy on some of the fleets and platforms that we’re seeking to purchase – there’s a range of numbers and it may mean we’re at the low end of those ranges.”

In keeping with an era of belt-tightening, the 2012 change-of-command ceremony Monday was a lower-key affair than the 2008 military sendoff that ushered in General Walter Natynczyk and bade farewell to former chief of the defence staff General Rick Hillier.

In 2008, the ceremonies included aerial acrobatics by the Canadian Snowbirds team and jumps by the Skyhawks, a military parachutist team.

In 2008, taxpayers shelled out nearly $270,000 for a pomp-and-circumstance-charged farewell to Mr. Hillier, including $6,600 so that he could ride off into retirement aboard a tank.

There were no planes or parachutists or rolling armour this time to carry away Gen. Natynczyk, who is retiring after serving more than four years in the Ottawa post. Instead, he got a Chief of the Defence Staff pennant awarded in these situations.

The command passed to an airman for the first time since 2005 after two chiefs from the Canadian Army.

Gen. Lawson, the former top Canadian at NORAD, was promoted to a full general and officially appointed as Canada’s new Chief of the Defence Staff in a ceremony at the Canadian War Museum that included a bagpiper, a 21-gun salute and the playing of God Save the Queen.