Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Canada: New Chief of Defence Staff named

From The Globe and Mail:

New defence chief brings experience, charisma to military’s public face
Campbell ClarkOttawaApril 27, 2015
(Picture:  Global News)

He’s the first officer from the class of Kandahar to rise to lead Canada’s armed forces. And he’ll take the helm at a time when another mission, against Islamic State, is the government’s first military priority.

Lieutenant-General Jonathan Vance, a commander with experience in combat and in front of TV cameras, has officially been named the next chief of defence staff.

It was clear, though the new top general was presented in a brief photo op in the Prime Minister’s Office, why Stephen Harper has picked him: the PM highlighted the missions against Islamic State, and to reassure allies in Eastern Europe, as central to an “important time” for the Canadian Forces.

There’s little doubt Mr. Harper is leaning on Lt.-Gen. Vance’s operational experience as a combat commander, including two tours commanding troops in Kandahar, and in serving as the military’s public face for missions in Afghanistan, Libya and Iraq. Lt.-Gen. Vance has less experience with the institutional challenges the Forces face: coping with strained budgets and delayed purchases of major equipment. He’s known for charisma and a dynamic personality, for a sharp mind and for blunt talk. As head of the Forces’ Strategic Joint Staff, where he briefed Parliament and the public on the Libya mission in 2011, and then as commander of Joint Operations, where he oversaw the Islamic State mission, he’s had a more public profile and more close contact with the PM than other senior generals have had.

With the promotion of Lt.-Gen. Vance, 51, comes generational change, to those who served in the defining Canadian mission in recent decades, in Kandahar.

“This is truly the first senior commander who has been produced in the crucible of Afghanistan,” said Dr. Howard Coombs, professor of history and war studies at the Royal Military College in Kingston. “For people to excel in that environment, they had to be agile intellectually.”...

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