Next Defence Chief Will Signal Liberals Priorities for the Military

OTTAWA—Time is running out for the federal Liberal government to name a new commander of the Canadian Armed Forces before it faces a confidence vote, with some observers worrying a delay could leave the military in limbo in the event of an election.

Yet exactly who will be selected to succeed Gen. Jonathan Vance as chief of the defence staff remains a mystery because while there may be one seemingly obvious choice, there are others who might suit the Liberals better.

“Theres a generalized understanding that any of the individuals who have made it to three stars have demonstrated a pretty strong portfolio in terms of competencies and strengths,” said Canadian Forces College professor Alan Okros.

“It then becomes an issue about where does the priority fall?”

The Liberal government has quietly indicated it wants to announce the new chief of defence staff before the speech from the throne on Sept. 23. Sources at the Department of National Defence, who are not authorized to discuss the search publicly, said interviews were conducted this past week

Retired lieutenant−general Guy Thibault, who previously served as vice−chief of the defence staff, is one of those hoping for an announcement before a possible election.

“You just dont want to have a chief in waiting with a chief caretaker in place,” said Thibault, who now heads the Conference of Defence Associations Institute.

The seemingly obvious choice is Lt.−Gen. Mike Rouleau.

The former Ottawa police officer who re−enrolled in the Forces after 9/11 spent years in the field before becoming commander of Canadas special forces in 2014, at a time when the elite soldiers were in Iraq and elsewhere.

Rouleau has since been burnishing his credentials in Ottawa, first as commander of the Canadian Joint Operations Command, which oversees all domestic and foreign operations, before recently taking over as Vances second−in−command.

“I think Mike is really the full−meal deal of all the current three−stars,” said Thibault, echoing an assessment shared by many defence insiders and observers.

Rouleaus appointment would signal a continuation of the current path set by Vances five−year tenure—the longest in modern Canadian history—and enshrined in the Liberals defence policy.

That policy—known as Strong, Secure, Engaged—released in 2017 promised massive billions of dollars in investments over the next 20 years for more troops, new equipment such as warships and jets, and new capabilities in cyber and space.

A similar signal would be sent if the Liberal government tapped Royal Canadian Air Force commander Lt.−Gen. Al Meinzinger, Canadian Army commander Lt.−Gen. Wayne Eyre or Royal Canadian Navy commander Vice−Admiral Art McDonald.

They, along with Lt.−Gen. Christopher Coates, who recently moved into Rouleaus old job as head of the Canadian Joint Operations Command, would bring their own skills and styles, but they are also viewed as largely similar in terms of continuity.

Vice−Admiral Darren Hawco was one of the key architects of the defence policy, with insiders speaking in glowing terms of the way the former frigate commander managed the backroom battles that led to its development.

That included managing the priorities of the Air Force, Army, and Navy agaRead More – Source