Lieutenant-Colonel Jason Adaire, Commander of 3rd Battalion Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry (3 PPCLI), speaks with Major-General Paul Wynnyk, designate Commander of the Canadian Army, in the Wainwright training area during Exercise MAPLE RESOLVE on June 2, 2016. (Photo by MCpl Malcolm Byers)
Ethics, integrity the focus for the new Commander of the Canadian Army
Posted on Thursday, July 21, 2016
OTTAWA - On July 14, Lieutenant-General Paul Wynnyk officially stepped into the role of Commander of the Canadian Army (CCA).
His journey to command began in the late 1970s in the rural community of Breton, Alberta, where he joined the Army Cadets.
LGen Wynnyk sat down for an interview just before assuming command to discuss his past, his greatest inspirations, and his vision for the Canadian Army (CA).
“I’m truly humbled and honoured,” he said of becoming CCA. “For a kid from a small town who always wanted to be in the Army, it’s exciting. There’s nothing else I’d rather be doing.”
The early years
LGen Wynnyk said he joined the Army Cadets simply because “it was just a fun thing to do in a very small town,” but it quickly became something much more.
“If you asked my mother, she’d say I always wanted to be a soldier. I knew from a very young age that it was the path I wanted to follow.”
LGen Wynnyk’s late father, Walter, had a “profound impact” on his career direction. A Second World War veteran, he was not only LGen Wynnyk’s high school principal, but also the commanding officer of his Army Cadet corps.
“He was immensely pleased that I ended up taking this career path,” LGen Wynnyk said. “He also instilled in me a sense of service and an ethical grounding.”
Did he imagine then that he might one day be CCA?
“Not at all,” he said. “I was always focused on the job at hand, not the rank.”
While the groundwork for a successful military career was laid by his father, LGen Wynnyk said he benefitted from the guidance of Colonel (Retired) Harky Smith, who was the Director of Administration at the Royal Military College of Canada (RMC) when LGen Wynnyk studied there. “He was just a tremendous mentor and friend,” LGen Wynnyk recalled. “In many ways, he was like a second father.”
LGen Wynnyk added that he has worked with many outstanding senior non-commissioned officers who have imparted valuable knowledge to him over the course of his career.
‘Blessed in experience’
LGen Wynnyk comes to the position of CCA with wide-ranging experience that he said will inform his work.
His first posting after graduating from the RMC was to 4 Combat Engineer Regiment in Lahr, Germany, not long before the collapse of the Soviet Union.
“From an operational standpoint, that was as good as it gets,” he said, noting that the experience gave him a solid grounding in operational readiness.
He calls his tenure as Commander Canadian Forces Intelligence Command and Chief of Defence Intelligence “incredibly enriching,” adding that it, along with his time as the Senior Defence Advisor and Director of Operations for the Foreign and Defence Policy Advisor to the Prime Minister, has given him valuable insight into working effectively with other government agencies.
“I personally feel very fortunate to have had these opportunities,” he said.
LGen Wynnyk served as Deputy Commander under the previous two CCAs, Lieutenant-General Peter Devlin, and Lieutenant-General Marquis Hainse, and said he has learned a great deal from them.
“They have integrity, a sense of ethics, and also brought great enthusiasm,” he said. “I think their example gave me a good grounding in what is required to lead the Canadian Army. Time will tell, but I think it was great preparation.”
‘I want to be a steward [of the Army family]’
The new CCA said he begins his tenure with confidence in the organization. Looking back on his 36 years of Reserve and Regular Force service, he said he has always viewed the CA as being “blessed” with strong leadership from officers and non-commissioned members alike.
In his experience, he added, Canada’s allies have always been “really impressed” with the men and women of the CA.
“The Army is extremely well-led at all levels,” LGen Wynnyk said. “We have absolutely tremendous leaders. We do punch above our weight.”
He also looks forward to working closely with Chief Warrant Officer Alain Guimond, who currently holds the position of Army Sergeant Major (ASM). The ASM acts as a link between officers and non-commissioned members. LGen Wynnyk commended CWO Guimond for his work in this regard, and said he will follow LGen Hainse’s example and maintain a close relationship.
“To me, the ASM is my principal advisor,” he said. “That’s not going to change a bit. That relationship is fundamental.”
LGen Wynnyk acknowledged that there are challenges ahead, including the implementation of recommendations from the Office of the Auditor General (OAG) on the Canadian Army Reserve. In a report released earlier this year, the OAG called for improvements in funding, training and recruitment within the Army Reserve.
LGen Wynnyk said he has studied the report closely and that there is “widespread consensus” among senior commanders on many of the issues raised in it.
“The challenge,” he said, “is how do we tackle those issues and in what order?”
“Reserve issues are Army issues,” LGen Wynnyk added. “The Reserve, Regular Force, civilians and the Canadian Rangers: we are one big family. I want to be a steward of this family and the Reserve will certainly have my attention.”
‘It’s about ethics’
LGen Wynnyk pledged his support for several ongoing initiatives to make the CA a more inclusive and diverse institution.
In response to former Supreme Court Justice Marie Deschamps’ 2015 report on sexual misconduct in the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF), the Chief of the Defence Staff implemented Operation HONOUR, directing CAF members to act on instances of inappropriate and sexual behaviour within the organization.
“Behaviour of this nature is abhorrent,” said LGen Wynnyk. “We need to do all we can to stamp it out.”
The CAF has also begun to implement Gender Based Analysis Plus (GBA+). A planning and analytical tool, GBA+ facilitates decision-making which considers the different ways combat or other crises affect men, women, and children.
“This is all positive,” he said, “and in many ways long overdue.”
LGen Wynnyk, as the Defence Team Champion for Aboriginal Peoples, said he will also continue to support Aboriginal programs, noting that the CA must be “the employer of choice” for the very best candidates.
“We need the best people and we need to ensure the Army is a place where Aboriginal people want to work.”
In his downtime, LGen Wynnyk enjoys fishing and travel. He is a military history buff as well as a collector of military memorabilia. An avid runner, LGen Wynnyk said he will lead by example to encourage CA members to stay focused on fitness.