OTTAWA – Lt.-Gen. Thomas Lawson has been named as Canada’s next new chief of the defence staff, the country’s top military post.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper says Lawson, the current deputy commander of NORAD — the North American Aerospace Defense Command — will formally succeed Gen. Walt Natynczyk within weeks.
Lawson is a former commander of the Royal Military College.
Natynczyk has held the chief’s job since July 2008, but there have been recent signs — an overheated rumour mill in Ottawa and public remarks from Harper that sounded like a farewell — suggesting his tenure was at an end.
“Let me use this opportunity in front of so many of your people here to thank you and congratulate you on over four years of fine service as chief of the defence staff of Canada,” Harper said last week during a speech to Canadian Forces troops.
Lawson graduated from the military college in 1979 and also commanded an air squadron and Canadian Forces Base Trenton during his career.
He flew both the CF-104 Starfighter and the CF-18 fighter jets as well as the Challenger executive jet during his flying career.
He holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in electrical engineering, as well as a master’s degree in public administration.
His career included flying jobs as well as staff work at senior levels.
In 2009, he was promoted major general and made assistant chief of the air staff. In July 2011, he was promoted to his current rank and appointed deputy commander at Norad.