Canadian military announces new army, air force and navy commanders

Lt.-Gen. Jocelyn Paul, a member of the Huron-Wendat First Nation, will lead the Canadian Army — one of several new appointments in a major shakeup of Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) leadership.

Lt.-Gen. Jocelyn Paul, a member of the Huron-Wendat First Nation, will lead the Canadian Army

Then brigadier-general Jocelyn Paul, pictured in 2018, will command the Canadian Army. He has been promoted to lieutenant-general. (Sue Goodspeed/CBC)

Canada's army, air force and navy are getting new commanders in a major shakeup of Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) leadership.

Lt.-Gen. Jocelyn Paul will be appointed commander of the Canadian Army, the Department of National Defence (DND) said in a media release. He is the first Indigenous commander of the Canadian Army.

Paul, who served previously as deputy commander of NATO's Allied Joint Force Command in Naples, Italy, will be replaced in that role by Maj.-Gen. S.R. Kelsey, who is being promoted to the rank of lieutenant-general.

Paul is from the community of Wendake, Que. and is a member of the Huron-Wendat First Nation, a NATO biography says.

He started his career as a reserve infantry officer in 1988 before joining the regular force in 1991. He's held a number of notable positions in the army, including commander of the Counter-Improvised Explosive Device Task Force and chief of staff in Canadian Forces Intelligence Command.

"A dedicated hunter and fisherman, he likes to roam in the Canadian wilderness. He also enjoys playing hockey and golf occasionally, even though he has absolutely no talent for either sport," the biography says.

Maj.-Gen. Eric Kenny will be the new commander of the Royal Canadian Air Force and will be promoted to the rank of lieutenant-general.

Kenny joined the CAF in 1989 and is a graduate of the Royal Military College (RMC) in Kingston, his air force biography says.

He completed pilot training in 1995 and was selected to fly the CF-18, Canada's fighter plane. He has logged nearly 3,000 flying hours, with 2,200 in the CF-18.

As a major-general, he commanded 1 Canadian Air Division/Canadian NORAD Region starting in 2020.

Rear Admiral Angus Topshee will lead the Royal Canadian Navy and will also receive a promotion, to the rank of vice-admiral.

Topshee joined the navy in 1990 and is a RMC graduate, a navy biography page says. He spent a year in Kabul as the director of Afghan National Police training in 2011, and afterwards held command of Canadian Fleet Pacific from 2018 to 2021. He was most recently commander of Maritime Forces Pacific and Joint Task Force Pacific.

Topshee replaces Vice-Admiral Craig Baines, who came under fire for golfing with retired Gen. Jonathan Vance while he was under military police investigation. Baines apologized and held onto his job.

Candidates went through new appointment, promotion system

It's rare, but not unprecedented, for all three leaders of the Canadian Armed Forces branches to be replaced at once during regularly scheduled promotions.

These appointments were the first under a new promotion and selection process, announced in November of last year, that aims be more inclusive and do a better job of assessing character.

"The CAF's requirement for general and flag officers is driven by the need to lead defence priorities at the institutional level, create and sustain a diverse and inclusive culture, and project leadership abroad," DND said in the media release.

"The CAF's promotion-selection process is evolving to select from among the best leaders who demonstrate strength of character and professional excellence."