RCAF gets its first woman deputy commander

For the first time in history, the Royal Canadian Air Force now has a female deputy commander.

Maj. Gen. Tammy Harris, was named second in command of the RCAF is a record-breaking appointment of new generals and flag officers which also saw the largest number of women in senior ranks being promoted in the Canadian Armed Forces.

The female officers are: Lt. Gen. Chris Whitecross, Maj. Gen. Tammy Harris, RAdm. Jennifer Bennett, Brig. Gen. Frances Allen, Brig. Gen. Lise Bourgon, Brig. Gen. Jennie Carignan, Brig. Gen. Danielle Savard, Cmdre. Marta Mulkins, and Col. Virginia Tattersall (who will be promoted acting while so employed to the rank of Brigadier General).

Maj. Gen. Harris appointment as deputy commander of the RCAF, follows on another “first,” the promotion in June 2016 of Brig. Gen. Carignan as the first female general in the CAF combat arms.

Maj. Gen. Tammy Harris

Whitecross is also the first woman to be promoted to the rank of Lieutenant General in the Canadian Armed Forces.

“As a general officer in the Air Force it’s certainly an extraordinary opportunity and [it’s] a privilege and honour that the Chief of the Defence Staff has given me,” Hariis said in a recent interview. “As a female leader it’s recognition of the changes that were made in policy back in the early 1980s, as my cohort was coming through.”

Harris graduated in 1987 from Acadia University as the valedictorian and immediately joined the Canadian Forces under the Direct Entry Officer program as an air traffic controller – two years before the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal ruled that women can take on combat roles.

She was promoted to a succession of various roles in the RCAF which included being deployed in Afghanistan as the commanding officer of the Canadian Element Roto 8 for COMKAF and the chief J5 planner for NATO on the Kandahar airfield and base in 2009. In 2012, Harris was appointed commander of Canadian Forces Base Borden as well as commander of the Canadian Forces Support Training Group. In July 2013, she was promoted to Brigadier General, and she was appointed to the Privy Council Office as a senior military advisor. In September 2015 she was named the Chief of Staff to the Chief of Defence Staff.

“Among my cohort of nine female general officers – that’s a high water mark – the firsts are only important because someday there will be sixths and sevenths and eighths,” Harris said. “And that’s what’s more important to me.

The new appointments were announced yesterday by Gen. Jonathan Vance, chief of defence staff.

Promotions and appointments resulting from retirements are as follows:

Maj. Gen. K.D. McQuillan retired from service, resulting in the following promotions and appointments:

Brig. Gen.S. Sirois was promoted to the rank of Major General and was appointed Chief of Staff – Assistant Deputy Minister (Infrastructure and Environment), at National Defence Headquarters (NDHQ) in Ottawa, replacing Maj. Jen.  K.D. McQuillan.

Col. M.C.D. Savard was promoted acting while so employed to the rank of Brigadier General and was appointed Director General Military Personnel Management Capability Transformation Project, at NDHQ in Ottawa, replacing Brig. Gen. J.S. Sirois.

Maj. Gen. J.G.E. Tremblay retired from service, resulting in the following promotions and appointments:

Cmdre. L. Cassivi will be promoted to the rank of Rear Admiral and will be appointed Commander Military Personnel Generation/Canadian Defence Academy, in Kingston, Ont., replacing Maj. Gen.  J.G.E. Tremblay.

Capt. (Navy) S.M. Waddell will be promoted to the rank of Commodore and will be appointed Director General Naval Strategic Readiness, at NDHQ in Ottawa, replacing Cmdre. L. Cassivi.

Maj. Gen. A.C. Patch will retire from service, resulting in the following promotions and appointments:

Brig. Gen.  P. Ormsby will be promoted to the rank of Major-General and will be appointed Deputy Chief of Staff – Assistant Deputy Minister (Materiel), at NDHQ in Ottawa, replacing Maj. Gen.  A.C. Patch.

Col. S.Y. Menard will be promoted to the rank of Brigadier-General and will be appointed Deputy Commander Continental U.S. NORAD Region (CONR), in Tyndall, Florida, replacing Brig. Gen. P. Ormsby.

Brig. Gen.  G.D. Corbould will retire from service, resulting in the following promotions and appointments:

Brig. Gen.  S.A. Brennan will be appointed Commanding Officer Joint Personnel Support Unit (JPSU), at NDHQ in Ottawa, replacing Brig. Gen. G.D. Corbould.

Col. D.A. MacIsaac was promoted acting while so employed to the rank of Brigadier General and was appointed Joint Task Force Commander for Operation IMPACT, Rotation 4, replacing Brig. Gen.  S.A. Brennan.

Brig. Gen. H.C. MacKay will retire from service, resulting in the following promotion and appointment:

Col. A.M.T. Downes will be promoted to the rank of Brigadier General and appointed Commander Canadian Forces Health Services Group/Surgeon General for the Canadian Armed Forces, at NDHQ in Ottawa, replacing Brig. Gen. H.C. MacKay.

Brig. Gen.  N.E. Russell will retire from service, resulting in the following promotions and appointments:

Brig. Gen. (acting while so employed) M.M.L. Rafter was promoted substantive to the rank of Brigadier General and will be appointed Strategic J4 for the Canadian Armed Forces, at NDHQ in Ottawa, replacing Brig. Gen. N.E. Russell.

Brig. Gen.  S.G. Friday will be appointed Chief of Staff for the Vice Chief of Defence Staff, at NDHQ in Ottawa, replacing Brig. Gen. M.M.L. Rafter.

Col. S. Bouchard will be promoted to the rank of Brigadier-General and appointed  Commandant of the Royal Military College of Canada, in Kingston, Ont., replacing Brig. Gen.  S.G. Friday.

Brig. Gen. P. Rutherford will retire from service, resulting in the following promotions and appointments:

Brig. Gen. F.J. Allen will be appointed Director General Information Management Operations, at NDHQ in Ottawa, replacing brig. Gen. P. Rutherford.

Capt. (Navy) R.A. Feltham will be promoted acting while so employed to the rank of Commodore and appointed Director General Cyberspace, at NDHQ in Ottawa, replacing Brig. Gen. F.J. Allen.

The following promotions and appointments result from new and continuing service requirements:

Lt. Gen. C.T. Whitecross was appointed to a new position as Commander of NATO Defense College in Rome, Italy, resulting in the following promotions and appointments:

Maj. Gen. C.A. Lamarre will be promoted to the rank of Lieutenant-General and appointed Chief of Military Personnel/Commander Military Personnel Command, at NDHQ in Ottawa, replacing Lt. Gen. C.T. Whitecross.

Maj. Gen. A.D. Meinzinger will be appointed Director of Staff, Strategic Joint Staff, at NDHQ in Ottawa, replacing Maj. Gen. C.A. Lamarre.

Maj. Gen. (acting while so employed) T.L. Harris will be promoted substantive to the rank of Major-General and appointed Deputy Commander Royal Canadian Air Force, at NDHQ in Ottawa, replacing Maj. Gen.  A.D. Meinzinger.

Brig. Gen. D.W. Lowthian will be appointed Chief of Staff for the Chief of Defence Staff, at NDHQ in Ottawa, replacing Maj. Gen.(acting while so employed) T.L. Harris.

Col.S.T. Boyle will be promoted to the rank of Brigadier-General and appointed Deputy Commander 1 Canadian Air Division, in Winnipeg, replacing Brig. Gen. D.W. Lowthian.

Maj. Gen.  J.M. Lanthier will be appointed Chief of Programme Division at NDHQ in Ottawa, replacing Maj. Gen. J.C. Madower, and resulting in the following promotions and appointments:

Brig. Gen. S.C. Hetherington will be promoted to the rank of Major-General and will be appointed as Commander Canadian Army Doctrine and Training Centre, in Kingston, Ont., replacing Maj. Gen. J.M. Lanthier.

Brig. Gen. T.J. Cadieu will be appointed commander of 3 Canadian Division/Joint Task Force (West), in Edmonton, replacing Brig. Gen. S.C. Hetherington.

Col. C.J.J. Mialkowski will be promoted to the rank of Brigadier-General and will be appointed to Operation PROTEUS, replacing Brig. Gen. T.J. Cadieu.

RAdm.  J.F. Newton will be appointed to a new position as Veterans Affairs Canada Liaison Officer, in Charlottetown, resulting in the following promotions and appointments:

Cmdre. C.A. Baines will be promoted to the rank of Rear-Admiral and will be appointed as Commander Maritime Forces Atlantic/Joint Task Force (Atlantic), in Halifax, replacing RAdm. J.F. Newton.

Capt. (Navy) C.T. Skjerpen will be promoted to the rank of Commodore and will be appointed as Commander Canadian Fleet Atlantic, in Halifax, replacing Cmdre. C.A. Baines.

Brig. Gen. J.P.A. Pelletier will be promoted to the rank of Major General and will be appointed to a new position as RCAF Fighter Program Lead, at NDHQ in Ottawa.

Brig. Gen. N. Eldaoud will be promoted to the rank of Major-General and will be appointed to a new position as Chief of Military Personnel Programs, at NDHQ in Ottawa, resulting in the following appointment:

Cmdre. H.C. Edmundson will be appointed Chief of Staff – Military Personnel Command, at NDHQ in Ottawa, replacing Brig. Gen. N. Eldaoud.

Brig. Gen. J.B. Ploughman will be appointed Assistant Chief of Staff J5 Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE), in Casteau, Belgium.

Brig. Gen.  D.J. Anderson will be appointed Chief of Staff Readiness – Canadian Joint Operations Command, in Ottawa, replacing Brig. Gen.  J.B. Ploughman.

Brig. Gen. S.J.R. Whelan will be appointed Ministerial Liaison Team Director – Operation IMPACT, replacing Brig. Gen. D.J. Anderson.

Col. V.C. Tattersall will be promoted acting while so employed to the rank of Brigadier General and appointed Deputy Commander Military Personnel Generation/Canadian Defence Academy, in Kingston, Ont., replacing Brig. Gen. S.J.R. Whelan.

Brig. Gen. J.J.M.J. Paul will be appointed to a new position as Chief of Staff – Canadian Forces Intelligence Command, at NDHQ in Ottawa.

Brig. Gen. J.S.S.D. Fortin will be appointed Senior Military Advisor, at the Privy Council Office, in Ottawa, replacing Brig. Gen. J.J.M.J. Paul.

Col. M.H. St-Louis was promoted to the rank of Brigadier-General and will be appointed Deputy Commanding General (US) I Corps, in Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, U.S., replacing Brig. Gen. J.S.S.D. Fortin.

Brig. Gen. (acting while so employed) G.R. Smith was promoted substantive to the rank of Brigadier General and appointed Canadian National Military Representative to SHAPE and Formation Commander Europe, in Casteau, Belgium.

Brig. Gen. (acting while so employed) E.J. Kenny was promoted substantive to the rank of Brigadier General and will continue to serve in his current appointment, Deputy Commander Force Generation, in Winnipeg.

Brig. Gen. (acting while so employed) M. Leblanc was promoted substantive to the rank of Brigadier General and will continue to serve in his current appointment, Deputy J3 U.S. Pacific Command (USPACOM), in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

Brig. Gen. (acting while so employed) S.N. Clancy was promoted substantive to the rank of Brigadier General and will continue to serve in his current appointment, Director General Air Readiness, at NDHQ in Ottawa.

Col. J.P.R. Prevost will be promoted acting while so employed to the rank of Brigadier General and appointed to a new position, Deputy Chief of Staff Plans, Canadian Joint Operations Command, in Ottawa.

Col. S.M. Lacroix will be promoted acting while so employed to the rank of Brigadier-General and appointed Director General Inter-American Defense Board, in Washington, D.C.

Col. S.R. Kelsey was promoted acting while so employed to the rank of Brigadier-General and appointed Chief of Staff for the Coalition Force Land Component Command (CFLCC-I), replacing Brig. Gen.  G.R. Smith.

Col. D.C. Aitchison will be promoted acting while so employed to the rank of Brigadier General and will be appointed Chief of Staff for the Coalition Forces Land Component Command (CFLCC-I), replacing Brig. Gen.  (while so employed) S.R. Kelsey.

After distinguished service to Canada and the CAF, the following General and Flag Officers have retired or will retire in 2017:

Maj. Gen.  K.D. McQuillan

Maj. Gen.  A.C. Patch

Maj Gen. D.W. Thompson

Maj. Gen. J.G.E. Tremblay

Brig. Gen. G.D. Corbould

Brig. Gen. H.C. Mackay

Brig. Gen. N.E. Russell

Brig. Gen. P. Rutherford

Will we see more women moving up the top levels of the military’s chain of command?

“There are some incredible young female leaders coming up through the ranks who are vying for the [Chief of the Defence Staff]’s chair,” Harris predicted.

Author: Nestor Arellano

Nestor Arellano is editor of Vanguard Magazine. Nestor is a seasoned journalist who has written extensively on defence and military industry issues as well as technology and business developments. He is also associate editor of Vanguard's sister publication, IT in Canada.

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