Chief of the Defence Staff (Canada)
|Chief of the Defence Staff
Chef d'état-major de la défense
General Thomas J. Lawson CMM CD
The air force epaulette for the rank of general
|Command||Her Majesty's Canadian Forces|
|Next (lower)||Vice Chief of the Defence Staff|
The Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS) (French: Chef d'état-major de la défense) is the second most senior member of the Canadian Forces and heads the Armed Forces Council, having primary responsibility for command, control, and administration of the forces, as well as military strategy, plans, and requirements. The position is held by a senior member of one of the three main branches of the Canadian Forces. The current CDS, since 29 October 2012, is General Thomas J. Lawson.
Until 1964, there existed a Chief of the Naval Staff, as head of the Royal Canadian Navy, a Chief of the General Staff, as head of the Canadian Army, and a Chief of the Air Staff, as head of the Royal Canadian Air Force. A position known as the Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee existed, which had a loose coordination function, although it lacked the command and control responsibilities of the later position of Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS).
The position of Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee and the positions of the three service chiefs were abolished in 1964 and replaced by the position of CDS. This change was based on a white paper initiated by Paul Hellyer, Minister of National Defence in the Cabinet headed by Lester B. Pearson. Following the tabling of the white paper, the minister introduced legislation that took effect in August 1964. The newly established Chief of the Defence Staff was to "head all of Canada's military forces, backed by a defence headquarters that was integrated and restructured to reflect six so-called functional commands, replacing eleven former service commands. 'Functional' described a command that was non-geographic and beyond any particular service or traditional arm." In May 1967, Bill C-243 was passed by parliament and was effective as of February 1, 1968. The law dissolved the three armed services and created the Canadian Forces under the command of the CDS.
In 2011, the three functional commands—named Maritime Command, Land Force Command, and Air Command—had their original names reinstated, becoming the Royal Canadian Navy, Canadian Army, and Royal Canadian Air Force, respectively. The heads of the three commands—the Commander of the Royal Canadian Navy, Commander of the Canadian Army, and Commander of the Royal Canadian Air Force—report to the CDS, rather than to the Minister of National Defence, as occurred prior to 1964.
Rank and command
The Chief of the Defence Staff follows in rank only the Commander-in-Chief of the Canadian Forces, who appoints the CDS and is the person from whom the CDS receives his or her orders. In practice, the commander-in-chief—the Canadian monarch, represented by the governor general—typically acts only on the advice of his or her ministers of the Crown, meaning the CDS normally reports directly to the Minister of National Defence.
The CDS has been charged with four main priorities, each having multiple sub-priorities: The first is to conduct operations, which includes the successful implementation of domestic and international operations, protection of the forces through a culture of risk management, and ensuring that recruitment is at a level required to sustain the operational forces at full potential to meet their commitments. Secondly, the CDS is expected to expand the regular and reserve forces to meet international and domestic obligations, which means the management of the Canadian Forces Recruiting Group so as to streamline the enlistment process of new forces members. The third task is to implement the national defence strategy as outlined by the Queen-in-Council, requiring both the acquisition of new equipment and the strengthening of diplomatic relations via the United Nations, North Atlantic Treaty Organization, and North American Aerospace Defence Command." Lastly, the CDS must enhance the forces' programme delivery while optimising the use of resources.
The CDS is also the Chair of the Canadian Forces Decorations Advisory Committee, which reviews and recommends to the governor general members of the forces eligible to receive decorations for valour, bravery, and meritorious service, as well as Commander-in-Chief Unit Commendations. This committee mirrors that for the Order of Military Merit, of which the CDS is ex-officio a member and the Principal Commander. Separately, the CDS presents the Chief of the Defence Staff Commendation (French: Mention élogieuse du Chef d'état-major de la Défense)—in the form of a gold bar pin that bears three equilaterally spaced maple leaves—to recognise deeds or activities beyond the normal demands of duty, as well as the Canadian Forces Medallion for Distinguished Service, which is given by the CDS on behalf of the entire forces.
Chiefs of the Defence Staff
|Name||Rank||Image||Year||Branch||Home Province||Appointed by||Prime Minister||Notes|
|Frank Robert Miller||Air Chief Marshal||1964–1966||Royal Canadian Air Force||BC||Georges Vanier||Lester B. Pearson|||
|Jean-Victor Allard||General||1966–1969||Canadian Army||QC||Georges Vanier||Lester B. Pearson|||
|Frederick Ralph Sharp||General||1969–1972||Air Command||SK||Roland Michener||Pierre Trudeau|||
|Jacques Alfred Dextraze||General||1972–1977||Mobile Command||QC||Jules Léger||Pierre Trudeau|||
|Robert Hilborn Falls||Admiral||1977–1980||Maritime Command||ON||Jules Léger||Pierre Trudeau|||
|Ramsey Muir Withers||General||1980–1983||Mobile Command||ON||Edward Schreyer||Pierre Trudeau|||
|Gérard Charles Édouard Thériault||General||1983–1986||Air Command||QC||Edward Schreyer||Pierre Trudeau|||
|Paul David Manson||General||1986–1989||Air Command||BC||Jeanne Sauvé||Brian Mulroney|||
|John de Chastelain||General||1989–1993||Mobile Command||AB||Jeanne Sauvé||Brian Mulroney|||
|John Rogers Anderson||Admiral||1993||Maritime Command||BC||Ray Hnatyshyn||Jean Chrétien|||
|John de Chastelain||General||1994–1995||Land Force Command||AB||Ray Hnatyshyn||Jean Chrétien|||
|Joseph Édouard Jean Boyle||General||1996||Air Command||ON||Roméo LeBlanc||Jean Chrétien|||
|Larry Murray (Acting)||Vice-Admiral||1996–1997||Maritime Command||ON||Roméo LeBlanc||Jean Chrétien|||
|Maurice Baril||General||1997–2001||Land Force Command||QC||Roméo LeBlanc||Jean Chrétien|||
|Raymond Henault||General||2001–2005||Air Command||MB||Adrienne Clarkson||Jean Chrétien|||
|Rick Hillier||General||2005–2008||Land Force Command||NL||Adrienne Clarkson||Paul Martin|||
|Walter Natynczyk||General||2008–2012||Land Force Command/Canadian Army||MB||Michaëlle Jean||Stephen Harper|||
|Thomas J. Lawson||General||2012–present||Royal Canadian Air Force||ON||David Johnston||Stephen Harper|||
- Chief of the Defence Force (Australia)
- Chief of the Defence Staff (United Kingdom)
- Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
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