Walter Natynczyk

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Walter Natynczyk
Walter Natynczyk.png
Natynczyk in July 2008
9th Deputy Minister of Veterans Affairs
Assumed office
November 3, 2014
Preceded byMary Chaput
President of the Canadian Space Agency
In office
August 6, 2013 – November 3, 2014
MinisterJames Moore
Preceded by
Succeeded byLuc Brûlé (interim)
16th Chief of the Defence Staff
In office
MinisterPeter MacKay
Preceded byRick Hillier
Succeeded byThomas J. Lawson
20th Vice Chief of the Defence Staff
In office
CommanderRick Hillier
Preceded byRonald Buck
Succeeded byDenis Rouleau
Personal details
Walter John Natynczyk

(1957-10-29) October 29, 1957 (age 65)
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
Alma mater
Military service
Allegiance Canada
Branch/service Canadian Army
Years of service1975–2012
RankCanadian Army OF-9.svgGeneral

Walter John Natynczyk, CMM, MSC, CD[3] (/nəˈtɪnɪk/ nə-TIN-chik; born October 29, 1957)[4] is a Canadian public servant and retired Canadian Army general who has served as Deputy Minister of Veterans Affairs from 2014 to 2021.[5] [6] He was the President of the Canadian Space Agency from 2013 to 2014 and Chief of the Defence Staff of the Canadian Armed Forces from 2008 to 2012.

Early life[edit]

Both Polish-Canadian and German-Canadian, Natynczyk was born to a family of European emigrants from war-ravaged Europe on October 29, 1957, in Winnipeg, Manitoba.[7] His Polish father was a soldier in the Polish Army during World War II,[4] and his mother was German.[4] Natynczyk grew up with his two sisters. He worked as a Winnipeg Free Press paperboy and a hamburger flipper at a fast food establishment. Before joining the regular Canadian Army, Natynczyk spent five years in the Royal Canadian Air Cadets.[8]

Military career[edit]

Natynczyk joined the Canadian Forces in August 1975.[9] He attended Royal Roads Military College and Collège militaire royal de Saint-Jean, graduating in 1979 with a degree in Business Administration.[9] His formative years were spent on NATO duty in West Germany with The Royal Canadian Dragoons in troop command and staff appointments.[9]

In 1983, Natynczyk assumed duties as a Squadron Commander at the Royal Military College of Canada in Kingston, Ontario. In 1986, he commenced a five-year regimental tour in Petawawa, serving in several staff and squadron command appointments; this tour included six months of UN peacekeeping duties in Cyprus. On completion of Canadian Forces Command and Staff College, he served on the Army Staff in Saint-Hubert, Quebec.[9]

In May 1994, Natynczyk embarked upon a year-long tour with the United Nations in the former Yugoslavia as Sector South-West Chief of Operations in Bosnia and Herzegovina within HQ 7 (UK) Armoured Brigade, then as the Chief of Land Operations, UNPROFOR HQ in Zagreb, Croatia.[9] In June 1995, Natynczyk was assigned to the Vice Chief of the Defence Staff within National Defence HQ in Ottawa, Ontario. He then commanded his regiment for two years, leading the Dragoons during domestic operations in the Ottawa region during the 1998 ice storm.[9] Natynczyk returned to Bosnia in 1998 as the Canadian Contingent Commander. On his return to Ottawa in March 1999, he was appointed J3 Plans and Operations during the period of deployments to Kosovo, Bosnia, East Timor and Eritrea.[9]

Natynczyk attended the U.S. Army War College, and was subsequently appointed Deputy Commanding General, III Corps and Fort Hood. In January 2004, he deployed with III Corps to Baghdad, Iraq, serving first as the Deputy Director of Strategy, Policy and Plans, and subsequently as the Deputy Commanding General of the Multi-National Corps – Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom.[9][10] Natynczyk led the Corps' 35,000 soldiers, consisting of 10 separate brigades, stationed throughout the Iraq Theatre of Operations.[3][11] He was later awarded the Meritorious Service Cross specifically for his combat efforts in Operation Iraqi Freedom January 2004 to January 2005.[12]

Upon his return to Canada, he assumed command of the Land Force Doctrine and Training System. He was subsequently appointed Chief of Transformation, where he was responsible for implementation of the force restructuring and the enabling processes and policies.[9]

Natynczyk was promoted to lieutenant general (LGen), and assumed the responsibilities of the Vice Chief of Defence Staff on June 28, 2006.[9]

Chief of the Defence Staff[edit]

On June 6, 2008, Prime Minister Stephen Harper appointed Natynczyk as the next Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS), replacing retiring General Rick Hillier.[13] Natynczyk was promoted to general, and installed as CDS on July 2, 2008. General Natynczyk transferred his appointment at a change of command ceremony in 2012.

On February 16, 2012, in Washington, the U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey, awarded the Legion of Merit (Degree of Commander) to Natynczyk.[14]

Retirement from the Canadian Forces[edit]

Natynczyk retired from the Canadian Armed Forces in December 2012 to take on public service, after transferring control of the defence staff to his successor, RCAF General Thomas Lawson, just 2 months earlier.[15]

Post-military career[edit]

On August 6, 2013, he was appointed president of the Canadian Space Agency by Prime Minister Stephen Harper.[16] He was appointed as the 9th Deputy Minister of Veterans Affairs Canada, effective November 3, 2014,[5] during the Harper ministry and continued in his role under Justin Trudeau.[17][18]

Natynczyk retired from public service in 2021, receiving accolades from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for his lifetime dedication and service to Canadians.[19]


  1. ^ "ARCHIVED — Vol. 146, No. 39 — September 29, 2012". September 29, 2012. Retrieved January 21, 2020.
  2. ^ "Vol. 147, No. 26 — June 29, 2013". June 29, 2013. Retrieved January 21, 2020.
  3. ^ a b Governor General announces awarding of Meritorious Service Decorations
  4. ^ a b c "Interview: Walter Natynczyk". Archived from the original on March 20, 2012. Retrieved December 10, 2009.
  5. ^ a b "PM announces changes in the senior ranks of the Public Service".
  6. ^ "The Prime Minister announces changes in the senior ranks of the Public Service".
  7. ^ "Natynczyk took his job to heart, say friends". Retrieved August 22, 2013.
  8. ^ The Quiet Canadian, Winnipeg Free Press, June 16, 2008, retrieved November 24, 2011
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Walter Natynczyk". NATO. Retrieved January 10, 2013.
  10. ^ Fisher, Matthew (March 30, 2011). "Canadians punch above their weight in international military command". Retrieved August 30, 2019.
  11. ^ Sanders, Richard (September 1, 2008). "September 2008: Canada's Real Role in Iraq". Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. Retrieved January 11, 2009.
  12. ^ "Governor General announces awarding of Meritorious Service Decorations". Governor General of Canada; Media release. January 24, 2006. Retrieved May 15, 2009. MGen Natynczyk is recognized for his outstanding leadership and professionalism while deployed as Deputy Commanding General of the Multi-National Corps during Operation IRAQI FREEDOM. From January 2004 to January 2005, MGen Natynczyk led the Corps' 10 separate brigades, consisting of more than 35,000 soldiers stationed throughout the Iraq Theatre of Operations. He also oversaw planning and execution of all Corps level combat support and combat service support operations. His pivotal role in the development of numerous plans and operations resulted in a tremendous contribution by the Multi-National Corps to Operation Iraqi Freedom, and has brought great credit to the Canadian Forces and to Canada.
  13. ^ Harper to name new top general: report Archived 2008-06-19 at the Wayback Machine, The Ottawa Citizen, June 6, 2008
  14. ^ Embassy of the United States Ottawa, Ontario, Canada (February 22, 2012). "22 February 2012: Canadian General Natynczyk Receives Legion of Merit". Embassy of the United States Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. Retrieved September 7, 2013.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  15. ^ Dow, Katherine (November 30, 2012). "In Conversation with... Gen. Walter Natynczyk". Winnipeg Free Press. Retrieved December 18, 2012.
  16. ^ "PM announces changes in the senior ranks of the Public Service". Archived from the original on September 27, 2013. Retrieved June 14, 2013.
  17. ^ Canadian Department of Veterans Affairs (April 15, 2015). "Deputy Minister – Department Officials". Canadian Department of Veterans Affairs. Retrieved March 20, 2017.
  18. ^ "Deputy Minister: General (retired) Walt Natynczyk CMM MSC CD". Veterans Affairs Canada. February 14, 2019. Retrieved April 14, 2019.
  19. ^ "The Prime Minister announces changes in the senior ranks of the Public Service".
Military offices
Preceded by Vice Chief of the Defence Staff
Succeeded by
Preceded by Chief of the Defence Staff
Succeeded by