Author Topic: Lt.-Gen. Tom Lawson named Canada's top general  (Read 4275 times)

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Mike Blais

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Lt.-Gen. Tom Lawson named Canada's top general
« on: August 27, 2012, 09:12:59 AM »

Lt.-Gen. Tom Lawson named Canada's top general
By Meagan Fitzpatrick, CBC News
Posted: Aug 27, 2012 9:26 AM ET
Last Updated: Aug 27, 2012 9:24 AM ET

Lt.-Gen. Tom Lawson is taking over the Canadian Armed Forces as chief of defence staff, replacing Gen. Walt Natynczyk.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced the appointment in a statement Monday morning.

Lawson is currently deputy commander of the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD). He will be promoted to the rank of general.

"Lt.-Gen. Lawson is the right leader for the Canadian Armed Forces and will bring a clear vision and strong values to the role," Harper said in the statement. "His experience, team-building skills and collaborative approach will help position the Canadian Armed Forces for the future."

Lawson has been second-in-command at NORAD since July 2011. His name was among those mentioned amid speculation about Natynczyk being replaced.

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Mike Blais

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Re: Lt.-Gen. Tom Lawson named Canada's top general
« Reply #1 on: August 27, 2012, 09:34:18 AM »
NORAD official named new chief of defence staff

The Canadian Press
Published Monday, Aug. 27, 2012 9:31AM EDT
Last Updated Monday, Aug. 27, 2012 9:34AM EDT

OTTAWA -- Lt.-Gen. Thomas Lawson, a former fighter pilot, has been named as the next chief of the defence staff, the country's top military post.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper says Lawson, the current deputy commander of Norad -- the North American Aerospace Defense Command -- will formally succeed Gen. Walt Natynczyk within weeks.

Lawson is a former commander of the Royal Military College.

Natynczyk has held the chief's job since July 2008, but there have been recent signs -- an overheated rumour mill in Ottawa and public remarks from Harper that sounded like a farewell -- suggesting his tenure was at an end.

"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 last week during a speech to Canadian Forces troops.

Lawson graduated from the military college in 1979 and also commanded an air squadron and Canadian Forces Base Trenton during his career.

He flew both the CF-104 Starfighter and the CF-18 fighter jets as well as the Challenger executive jet during his flying career.

He holds bachelor's and master's degrees in electrical engineering, as well as a master's degree in public administration.

His career included flying jobs as well as staff work at senior levels.

In 2009, he was promoted major general and made assistant chief of the air staff. In July 2011, he was promoted to his current rank and appointed deputy commander at Norad.

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Re: Lt.-Gen. Tom Lawson named Canada's top general
« Reply #2 on: August 27, 2012, 09:42:55 AM »

Air force general Thomas Lawson named as new chief of defence staff
Rebecca Lindell, Global News : Monday, August 27, 2012 9:46 AM

OTTAWA – Prime Minister Stephen Harper named Lieutenant-General Thomas Lawson as his new Chief of Defence Staff.

Lawson, who is currently Deputy Commander of NORAD, will replace the outgoing chief General Walter Natynczyk.

The new job comes with a promotion to General for Lawson and will take effect within the coming weeks.

“Lieutenant-General Lawson is the right leader for the Canadian Armed Forces and will bring a clear vision and strong values to the role,” said Harper in a statement. “His experience, team-building skills and collaborative approach will help position the Canadian Armed Forces for the future.”

Harper also thanked Natynczyk for his “exemplary” leadership over the past four years and wished him the best for the future.

Lawson, a former fighter pilot, has been serving as NORAD’s Deputy Commander since July 2011.

The Royal Military College graduate has served with the Royal Canadian Air Force during his career. Over his 33-year-career, Lawson has served in locations including Baden, Germany; Montgomery, Alabama; Cold Lake, Alta.

After becoming Colonel in 2003, Lawson held various positions with the Air Force before joining the Canadian Forces Transformation Team in 2005. In 2006, he completed a year in command of the Canadian Forces Base Trenton before being promoted to Brigadier-General and appointed Commandant of the Royal Military College.

He was promoted to Major-General and became Assistant Chief of the Air Sta

Read it on Global News: Global News | Air force general Thomas Lawson named as new chief of defence staff

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Re: Lt.-Gen. Tom Lawson named Canada's top general
« Reply #3 on: August 27, 2012, 10:08:34 AM »
Air force general tapped to head Canada’s armed forces

Bruce Campion-Smith
Ottawa Bureau chief

OTTAWA—A former fighter pilot has been named the next general to head Canada’s armed forces.

Lieut-Gen. Thomas Lawson has been tapped to replace Gen. Walt Natynczyk, who is leaving after four years leading the military.

Defence Minister Peter MacKay was due to make the formal announcement and introduce Lawson at a news conference on Parliament Hill Monday morning.

Lawson is currently serving as deputy commander of the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) in Colorado.

A graduate of the Royal Military College in 1979, Lawson went to fly flew CF-104 Starfighters and CF-18 Hornets, including serving as an instructor pilot.

In 1998, he was named commanding officer of 412 squadron where he flew the Challenger jets, which fly high-ranking officers, cabinet ministers and the Governor General.

Promoted Colonel in 2003, Lt.-Gen Lawson held various staff positions with the Air Force before joining the CF Transformation Team in 2005 and leading the stand up of the Strategic Joint Staff. Posted to 8 Wing in 2006, he completed a year in command of CFB Trenton before being promoted to BGen in May 2007 and appointed Commandant of RMC.

In 2009, he was promoted to MGen and appointed Assistant Chief of the Air Staff. In July 2011, he was promoted to his current rank and appointed Deputy Commander NORAD.

The new general comes as the defence department attempts to chart a new course. After years of expanding budgets and serving in Afghanistan, the military is under pressure to trim costs.

Several other contenders were said to have been in the running for the top posting, including Vice-Admiral Paul Maddison, now the head of the Royal Canadian Navy.

But in picking Lawson, the government left the navy candidates stuck at the dock. A navy commander has not held the chief of defence post since the mid-1990s.

There were signals that change was imminent. At the wrap-up of Operation Nanook last Friday, the military’s annual northern exercise, both Prime Minister Stephen Harper and MacKay were effusive praise for Natynczyk.

Natynczyk, a former army commander, has been a popular leader. During his own remarks on Friday, he paid tribute to the troops he had led over the years.

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Re: Lt.-Gen. Tom Lawson named Canada's top general
« Reply #4 on: August 28, 2012, 07:14:19 AM »
5 issues facing Canada's new top soldier
Chief of defence staff will confront several challenges beyond his full control
By Janyce McGregor, CBC News
Posted: Aug 28, 2012 5:07 AM ET

Lt.-Gen. Tom Lawson 'honoured' to be named top general

In announcing Lt.-Gen. Tom Lawson as the government's pick to head the Canadian Forces, Defence Minister Peter MacKay said the promotion comes at "an important time within the Canadian Forces history."

Lawson has "big combat boots to fill" as chief of defence staff, MacKay said, referring to the job's high profile and the high regard in which his two predecessors from the army ranks, Rick Hillier and Walt Natynczyk, were held.

But as Lawson steps into those boots, this leader from the air force side of the organization will confront a changed landscape from the scene previous top generals surveyed. Buried under that are several political landmines.

Here's a look at the current state of the terrain over at National Defence headquarters, including several hot-button issues he'll have to manage.
F-35 fighter jet purchase

Within minutes of the announcement of Lawson's appointment, Ottawa was buzzing with research and retweets on everything the new top general had written and said about Canada's purchase of fighter jets to replace the CF-18s.

No surprises here: the former fighter pilot is a fan of the F-35, the stealth fighter the government announced the intention to purchase in 2010.

After months of controversy about its cost, the government has referred the entire procurement to a new Public Works secretariat tasked with reviewing and re-doing the entire thing (minus the predetermined outcome, ministers and officials are now quick to say.)

"We will continue to take our lead on the F-35 from the government," Lawson told reporters at his inaugural press conference Monday. "It will continue to contend for the replacement for the CF-18."

But when the new CDS said he'd "be providing our best advice throughout the process" he wasn't just being cautious.

"Many of the key decisions have already been made," says Kim Richard Nossal, the director of the Centre for International and Defence Policy at Queen's University. "This is something the CDS can only play a supporting role in."

"The lead on explaining this procurement has to be taken by ministers in cabinet," Nossal adds.

"He will have to tread very carefully with that file," says retired colonel Alain Pellerin from the Conference of Defence Associations, an advocacy group for Canada's defence industry.

But Pellerin does see a role for Lawson in the sell job.

"Once [the government has] a plan, they need to have somebody in place to explain it, not just from the air force but from a chief of defence who has other responsibilities to manage."

Philippe Lagassé, from the school of Public and International Affairs at the University of Ottawa, thinks much will turn on whether the air force is asked to revise its earlier statement of requirements for the replacement fighter jets.

If it does, Lawson may find himself in a position of having to defend his team's needs without causing too much political fuss.

"He needs to help reassure the government that the CDS can help in this," Lagassé says.
Procurement reform

The F-35 may be its poster child, but military procurement generally has become a major headache for the Harper government, leading to a rare outburst of public frustration from Public Works Minister Rona Ambrose earlier this year.

From trucks to supply ships to search and rescue planes, the management of major purchases for the military has been fraught with delays and cost concerns.

As budget constraints kick in, the affordability of the military's plans can be called into question, leading to tough choices at Lawson's desk about who should be asked to sacrifice what requirements and for how long.

On top of all the things the military wants to purchase in the short and medium term, there are also the things it has to put off and make do with in the meantime, like its troubled aging submarine fleet.

"The traditional CDS mentality is just to wait for better days," says Lagassé, "but that's not a realistic option."
The 'Leslie Report'

Former Lt.-Gen. Andrew Leslie, the man once thought to be a top contender for CDS, reported back to MacKay a year ago with his prescription for "transformation" in the Canadian Forces. It called for dramatic cuts to the bureaucratic side of the military's operations so the people on the frontlines have the support and equipment they need.

That report has not yet been implemented, and Leslie was not picked for the top job. But the government still has to consider what to do with his recommendations.

The defence department is also redrafting its $490 billion "Canada First Defence Strategy" to bring the department's plans in line with the government's greater budgetary goals.

Cuts to the department's civillian work force were among the bigger line items in the 2012 budget. It was the second consecutive budget cut for defence, which until then had seen its resources double since the Conservatives took office.

"The ambition is enormous, the means are modest," Lagassé says.

In expressing confidence in Lawson's leadership, MacKay said his government's goals would "continue to be achieved."

"At end of day the main prerequisite for the chief of defence staff is that the prime minister has to be comfortable with whoever he will select," Pellerin says.
Life after Afghanistan

From Prime Minister Stephen Harper on down, there's every indication that "out means out" in Afghanistan after 2014.

How will Canada use its military down the road?

Key allies such as the United States are "rebalancing," shifting attention and resources away from Europe and NATO and toward emerging concerns in the Asia-Pacific region and the Middle East.

Supporting allies with concerns about China and managing new threats from Iran require new expertise, different equipment and new bases for staging potential operations.

Compared to other presumptive CDS candidates, Lawson has less mission command experience. When asked Monday, MacKay said the 37-year veteran has a "wealth of experience" and relevant leadership positions on his resumé.

But a lack of command experience may not matter that much for the immediate road ahead, which may not be focused on large combat missions abroad.

"We may be back to a period where we aren’t 'commanding' anything, but merely 'running things,'" Nossal says.
Recruitment, retention, retirement

Lawson's predecessors were held in high regard among the rank and file because they were perceived to be fighters on behalf of their troops. When asked about his priorities on Monday, Lawson included looking after wounded soldiers on his list.

If Lawson presides over a period of fewer missions it could mean greater uncertainty for his rank and file. Where past generals struggled to recruit in sufficient numbers to meet high operational demands in Afghanistan, Lawson may have retention challenges if a lack of missions means the military's top talent moves on.

Having taken credit for restoring Canada's military to a place of pride, it's unlikely the Harper government would then preside over a significant downsizing. But Lawson's tenure may resemble a holding pattern, particularly if the economy worsens rather than improves.

"His visions will be defined for him by whatever kind of cuts are visited upon him by government," Nossal says.

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Re: Lt.-Gen. Tom Lawson named Canada's top general
« Reply #5 on: August 29, 2012, 07:42:50 AM »
Defence chief’s selection sends a coded message

David Bercuson

Special to The Globe and Mail

Last updated Tuesday, Aug. 28 2012, 5:37 PM EDT

Lt.-Gen. Tom Lawson
(/CP Video)

In appointing Air Force Lieutenant-General Thomas J. Lawson as Canada’s new Chief of the Defence Staff, Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Defence Minister Peter MacKay no doubt selected a man whose military career, character and temperament were deemed suitable for the job.

But the selection also carries messages of its own.

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The four men generally known to have been considered for the position were vice-admirals Bruce Donaldson and Paul Maddison of the Royal Canadian Navy and retired lieutenant-general Andrew Leslie.

Vice-Adm. Maddison is currently Chief of the Maritime Staff (Navy) and Vice-Adm. Donaldson is Vice-Chief of the Defence Staff, effectively chief operating officer of the Canadian Forces. Gen. Leslie is the former chief of the land staff (army) and author of a comprehensive and controversial report commissioned by Mr. MacKay. That report offered very specific advice on how Canada’s military could be reorganized to remain ready and effective while reducing unreasonably high overhead costs. Gen. Leslie completed his report a little over a year ago and subsequently retired.

The fate of the Leslie report was surely a major consideration in Gen. Lawson’s selection. His own views on it are largely unknown. Although the report made proposals for significant change in all areas of the Canadian Forces, the most wide-ranging recommendations would clearly affect the army more than the other two branches.

A few proposals have been acted on by the government, but much of the report remains in limbo. Although the Prime Minister is reportedly very much in favour, much of the military’s high command is dead set against it. That includes former defence chief Rick Hillier, who has publicly denounced the report.

Gen. Leslie’s selection as chief from retirement would have been unusual, to say the least, but it would have sent a strong signal to the military that his recommendations would largely be implemented. But Gen. Leslie, like Mr. Hillier, is a highly charismatic figure who may well have sought assurances about reform and military budgets that Mr. Harper and Mr. MacKay were not prepared to give. Besides, it is well known that Mr. Hillier’s charismatic leadership – most unusual in a peacetime defence chief – made the government uncomfortable on more than one occasion. Why risk that again?

By selecting Gen. Lawson, the government’s intentions for the Leslie report remain opaque, a good position from which to keep the high command happy.

Most observers thought the navy’s turn had come to supply the new defence chief. The navy is undoubtedly in the worst shape of the three services. Its major ships are close to obsolescence or past it, and little has been done to renew the fleet. The used-submarine venture originally embarked upon by Jean Chrétien’s Liberals has proven a disaster. But perhaps the navy’s problems were the very reason why neither of the vice-admirals were chosen – fear that such a choice would place the government on record about the need to fast-track naval revamping at the expense of the other services. The government isn’t interested in fast-tracking any defence spending these days.

None of this is to say that Gen. Lawson isn’t well qualified for the position in his own right. He has worked closely with the U.S. military in a number of postings, most notably his last one as deputy commander of NORAD. He is well educated, representing the post-Somalia officer corps, and he has extensive staff experience. He hasn’t had a great deal of operational command time, which is unusual in a military that is just coming out of a 10-year war.

Gen. Lawson will face many significant challenges. Virtually every major procurement project is in deep trouble, including his much-loved F-35 fighter. Defence has endured a 10-per-cent budget cut in the past two years, and more could be on the way. The war in Afghanistan is effectively over for Canada and much of the public is turning away from things military. Perhaps the biggest problem he will face is that peacetime militaries tend to become bloated bureaucracies and easily lose their edge.

At the end of the day, Gen. Lawson’s biggest challenge will be to remind the public and the government that war always comes as a shocking surprise to democracies and that most of Canada’s wars have seized the nation out of a clear blue sky.

David Bercuson is a senior research fellow of the Canadian Defence and Foreign Affairs Institute.