General Tom Lawson takes command of Canadian Forces

General Tom Lawson took over as Canada

From Steven Chase, Globe & Mail:  Canada’s new top soldier, under pressure to cope with defence spending cuts, is rejecting the notion that the military is rich with fat to be trimmed – and suggesting he might look at scaling back planned equipment purchases to save money.

General Tom Lawson, a former CF-104 Starfighter pilot who took over as Chief of the Defence Staff Monday, has been ordered to make cuts without affecting Canada’s fighting capability.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper even made a point of reminding the new general of this during a transfer-of-command ceremony Monday in Ottawa, telling an audience of soldiers, sailors and airmen that Gen. Lawson must aim for “more teeth and less tail” as he overhauls the forces to “ensure administrative burdens are reduced and resources freed up for the front line.”

But Gen. Lawson, speaking to reporters later, was vague on how he’d accomplish all this while he’s also committed to keeping the size of the military’s regular force at the levels ordered by the Conservatives. The Tories vowed to bring regular forces to 70,000 in their 2008 defence strategy statement – during budget good times – but have since throttled this back to 68,000.

“I would like to say there’s very little fat,” Gen. Lawson told reporters, repeating later, “You’re asking me where is the fat and I am saying there is very little fat. . . .”

The command passed to an airman for the first time since 2005 after two chiefs from the Canadian Army.

Gen. Lawson, the former top Canadian at NORAD, was promoted to a full general and officially appointed as Canada’s new Chief of the Defence Staff in a ceremony at the Canadian War Museum that included a bagpiper, a 21-gun salute and the playing of God Save the Queen.  (photo: Andre Forget/QMI)

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