“I recognize what a privilege it is to lead the members of the RCAF at this time in our history,” says the RCAF’s new commander, Lieutenant-General Al Meinzinger. “I have assumed this command with the knowledge that much important work remains to be done so that we may continue to build and strengthen your Air Force.” (Photo: DND)

We will continue to build and strengthen your Air Force

Submitted by Lieutenant-General Al Meinzinger,
Commander of the RCAF

Posted on Thursday July 5, 2018

Let me start by underscoring how honoured I am to have assumed the duties and responsibilities of the 20th commander of your Royal Canadian Air Force. As the son of an RCAF Chief Warrant Officer, I have spent my entire life impressed by what the RCAF has done, and continues to do, for Canada and Canadians. As your Commander, I have been grateful to have Chief Warrant Officer Gérard Poitras and now Chief Warrant Officer Denis Gaudreault as my Command Team partner.

Over the past few years, it has become very apparent that our success is driven by the concept of “flying in formation”, a philosophy conceived of by Lieutenant-General (retired) Alain Parent. In the simplest terms, this philosophy ensures that we remain interoperable at all levels of the RCAF, able to operate together as an air force and with our Canadian Armed Forces and allied partners. In this spirit, I pledge to continue to move the RCAF forward as a united and focussed team.

Without question, we are inspired by our proud history, which provides us purpose and guides us toward the future. As I highlighted in my Change of Command remarks, I recently returned from the opening of the International Bomber Command Centre in England. It was an honour to attend with a Canadian hero—95-year-old Stuart Vallières, who was shot down on his 33rd Halifax bomber mission in the summer of 1944. Badly injured and held as a POW for four months, Stuart epitomizes what I admire most about our great veterans: humility, pride in the RCAF and a steely, strong character that places the team above one’s interests. To this day, Stuart’s crew is still front of his mind. I was delighted to have Mr. Vallières attend the change of command ceremony on May 4 as my guest.

During my command, a key focus for me will be to maintain our sterling reputation for delivering operational excellence at home and abroad—the true hallmark of who we are. Your amazing ability to deliver mission success regardless of circumstance is truly remarkable and is reflective of the agility and flexibility integral to our institution. On the verge of deploying an Air Task Force to Mali in support of the United Nations, I have no doubt that we will continue to deliver with purpose and professionalism while delivering on current missions here at home and abroad. This vital work must continue.

Responsible for stewarding the Air Force forward to meet the challenges of 2030 and beyond, I believe success will be achieved by focusing on our amazing people, our new defence policy, our program and our posture.

“People, Policy, Program and Posture” will be anchor points as we move ahead, and I look forward to advancing the RCAF in each of these key domains.

I am immensely grateful to you, the men and women of the RCAF, and our civilian colleagues for what you do. You are our greatest strength, the heart of our institution and the foundation upon which our future is built. You are extraordinary and professional, capable of accomplishing great things, and setting standards of quality that are respected around the world. I have seen it with my own eyes time and time again in places such as Afghanistan, where allies welcome the RCAF contribution because it is steadfast and delivered with precision when the chips are down.

Every one of you contributes directly or indirectly to the delivery of air and space power for our nation. I pledge to work tirelessly to ensure my team and I do right by you for your dedication and service. My leadership team and I will work to retain your exceptional talents and attract those with the right skills and energy to move us forward. We will fly in formation with the Commander of Military Personnel Command to ensure our policies are advanced to meet the exigencies of today and tomorrow.

In taking care of our personnel, we must also continue to demand, at all levels throughout the RCAF, that we treat one another with the dignity, respect, and inclusivity that we recognize as being absolutely fundamental to our success as a family of professionals.

I am extremely optimistic as I consider our new Defence Policy, which boldly acknowledges the importance of air and space power to Canada. It commits significant new resources to supporting our personnel, introducing new capabilities to enable operations.

We must deliver on our Defence Policy and capital program with discipline and determination. We must enhance our posture and readiness such that the RCAF remains agile and able to deliver against the heightened operational output that is expected of us moving forward. Our ability to deliver air power effects in an integrated manner with precision, agility and professionalism is our true calling card, and I am immensely proud of what you, and your families, do for Canada and for Canadians each and every day.

I am a firm believer that successful delivery of air and space power also relies on well-led, robust, healthy and inclusive squadrons and tactical units. If we can get it right within our 39 flying units and 86 tactical units, our future will be all the brighter. I pledge that, as I contemplate change and guide the organization in the years ahead, my decisions will be rooted in the understanding that the men and women in our squadrons, with their rich and vibrant squadron history, are the lifeblood of the RCAF.

In closing, I recognize what a privilege it is to lead the members of the RCAF at this time in our history. I have assumed this command with the knowledge that much important work remains to be done so that we may continue to build and strengthen your Air Force.

For, as the words of our RCAF motto state: Sic Itur Ad Astra—such is the pathway to the stars.