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Major-General David Wheeler assumed command of 1 Canadian Air Division and the Canadian NORAD Region (1 CAD/CANR) from Major-General Pierre St-Amand on July 16, at a ceremony held at 17 Wing Winnipeg, Manitoba.
“Major-General St-Amand has done an outstanding job as commander overseeing readiness levels for our two no-fail missions, namely NORAD and search and rescue,” said Lieutenant-General Yvan Blondin, commander of the Royal Canadian Air Force.
“These are two missions with the highest readiness levels of any command within the Canadian Armed Forces. I am pleased, and confident that Major-General Wheeler is superbly equipped and ready to take command of this vital organisation.”
Major-General St-Amand has accepted a posting to Colorado Springs, Colorado, where he will serve as the operations officer for all North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) activities. In the last two years, while commander of 1 Canadian Air Division and Canadian NORAD Region, he has played an essential role in the many successes of the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF).
“All of our successes have been due to our personnel and their tireless efforts. Whether it’s saving lives in search and rescue or helping with emergency evacuations from forest fires, to conducting missions in Afghanistan, Mali, the Philippines or in Romania over the skies of Europe; our personnel, both military and civilian, have made all the difference in Canadian Armed Forces operations all over the world,” he said.
Major-General Wheeler is an accomplished fighter pilot with over 4,000 hours of flight time. He served as the deputy director of the Air Operations Control Centre with the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan from December 2008 to June 2009. He has been the deputy commander of 1 Canadian Air Division during the past year and was promoted to his current rank on July 7, 2014.
“In the year that I spent as deputy commander here, I am very much aware of the high calibre support that the RCAF continues to deliver at home and worldwide,” said Major-General Wheeler. “I am deeply humbled by the privilege of serving with a robust 1 Canadian Air Division, with its great team of people across Canada. The way 1 CAD conducts business today has evolved dramatically in how we deliver our mandate. Our working relationship with NORAD, which is already strong and unique, will grow even stronger.”
- 1 Canadian Air Division is the source of RCAF air power provided to all operational commands of the Canadian Armed Forces. The mission of the Canadian NORAD Region is aerospace surveillance, identification, control and warning for the defence of Canada and North America.
- At home, the RCAF demonstrated operational excellence in Canada through notable Search and Rescue efforts, including the rescue of 32 people from an ice floe near Arctic Bay, Nunuvut; the rescue of a crane operator surrounded by an apartment complex inferno in Kingston, Ont.; and in support to Alberta during the 2013 floods. This was achieved while keeping a tireless watch over North American skies through our NORAD mission.
- Overseas, 1 CAD demonstrated excellence through the closing of our mission in Afghanistan; in humanitarian assistance to typhoon-affected communities in the Philippines in Operation Renaissance; support operations in Mali; air policing in Iceland, counter-narcotics missions over the Caribbean Basin; maritime security and counter-terrorism operations in the Arabian Sea region; and in joint-patrols with the department of Fisheries and Oceans to thwart illegal fishing in the east Pacific.
- 1 CAD also formalized the Air Task Force construct, a system of ‘delivery of excellence in operations’ for domestic and overseas operations, which has been successfully employed in the Philippines and in Romania.
- The Royal Canadian Air Force took great strides to strengthen support to military, with RCAF wings across the country forging ahead with delivering on commitments to support programs; including in the areas of mental health and suicide prevention while maintaining quality of life services to families.