After a summer of speculation, the Minister of National Defence finally named Canada’s next Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) on August 27. Lt-Gen Thomas Lawson will replace General Walt Natynczyk, though no date has been set for the official ceremony.
Lawson is a lifetime soldier, having gotten his education at Kingston’s Royal Military College. Now Lawson will be the voice of the Canadian Forces as the debate continues in Parliament on Canada’s purchase of 65 new fighter jets to replace the aging CF-18s. Lawson happens to be a former fighter pilot in the Air Force, so he’s in a perfect position to explain what Canada really needs and what requirements the F-35 jet fulfills.
Lawson has previously stated that the F-35 is the “only aircraft for the future.”
When asked by reporters at the press conference following the announcement of his appointment, he said only that the F-35 will continue to contend for the replacements of the CF-18s.
He will also be working closely with American forces, which is something he’s used to as a current Deputy Commander of the North American Aerospace Defence Command (NORAD, best known among the general population for their Santa tracking). He also attended the US Air Force staff college at Montgomery, Alabama. Lawson also wrote an essay suggesting that Canada needs to revisit a past decision to not participate in the US ballistic missile defence system.
Being friendly with Americans is a top qualifier for Canada’s CDS, given the shared border and the power the US wields.
Lawson will serve a four year term as CDS.
Photo Credit: JLS Media