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LGen. Christine Whitecross assumed command of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Defense College in Rome this week. She was chosen as the first Canadian in more than 20 years to fill the position earlier this year.
“Congratulations to Lieutenant-General Whitecross as she takes on the command of the NATO Defense College. She will have a direct, positive impact on senior officers and officials from the Alliance and partner nations in their pursuit to address the global security and defence issues of today and tomorrow. We are confident that the college will thrive under the professional, skilled leadership of its new Canadian commander,” said Minister of Defence Harjit Sajjan in a statement.
Whitecross is the third Canadian and first female to take on the command of the college since it was first established in 1951.
In her new role, Whitecross will be responsible for developing the college’s role as a centre of education, study, and research on transatlantic issues. The commandant is responsible to the Military Committee, which is the primary source of military advice to NATO’s civilian decision-making bodies.
“I am honoured to be assuming command of the NATO Defense College. As the third Canadian to lead the college since its foundation, I welcome this chance to represent Canada and the Canadian Armed Forces abroad and look forward to the challenges and opportunities that come with my new responsibilities,” said Whitecross.
Last week Whitecross was named one of Canada’s Top 100 Most Powerful Women by the Women’s Executive Network. This honour reflected her work within the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) and her new appointment as the first women to the Defense College.
Since June 2015, Whitecross has been the commander of the Military Personnel Command, the organization within the CAF responsible for personnel management, including training and education. She will remain in the post until May 2017, when the CAF chose someone to fill her shoes.
“I offer my heartiest congratulations to Lieutenant-General Whitecross as she takes up her new post in Rome as the Commandant of the NATO Defense College. I wish her the best of luck, and know that with her exceptional abilities, she will do a tremendous job in this prestigious post. We are going to miss her here in Ottawa, but will carry on her valuable work!,” said Gen. Jonathan Vance, Chief of the Defence Staff.
Whitecross assumes command of the college from Major-General Janusz Bojarski of the Polish Air Force.
The NATO Defense College is well known for training senior officers from 28 Allied nations in strategic planning for the kind of multi-national operations NATO runs. Officers attending the college strengthen their critical skills in multinational planning, consensus building, and strategic level problem-solving.
“The NATO Alliance will be stronger by the appointment of this outstanding Canadian. Lieutenant-General Whitecross has demonstrated throughout her career her exemplary leadership skills, and the NATO Defence College will be the next to benefit,” stated Ambassador Kerry Buck, Canada’s Ambassador and Permanent.