For the first time in its history, the Canadian Armed Forces’ Public Affairs Branch has a Colonel Commandant.
Retired colonel Ralph Coleman was appointed to the honorary post during a ceremony at National Defence Headquarters in Ottawa last month, on Oct. 1, 2018. The tenure of appointment of an Honorary member usually is for a period of three years.
Coleman joined the military in 1961 and served with the 2nd Regiment, Royal Canadian Horse Artillery, and 5e Régiment d’artillerie légère du Canada. He was the Aide-de-Camp to the Governor General of Canada before changing his trade to Public Affairs Officer in 1979.
“Having served in the Public Affairs Branch since its formation, it is truly an honour for me to be appointed its first Colonel Commandant,” Coleman said in a statement.
“To the Public Affairs Officers and Imagery Technicians of my Branch, we will continue to build and forge the traditions of our Branch as we support our military and communicate its activities at home and around the world. Veritas!”
The new colonel commandant enjoyed an interesting career during his time in the branch. In 1983, he was seconded to the Prime Minister’s Office as a press officer and tour leader for a number of years. For one year, he served as Press Secretary to the Prime Minister. In 1989, Coleman deployed to Germany as chief of public information for Canadian Forces Europe.
In 1991, he was assigned to the Canadian Joint Headquarters Middle East during the Gulf War where he served as senior Canadian public affairs officer. From 1993 to 1996, he headed up the Canadian Army Public Affairs at Land Force Command Headquarters. In 1996, Coleman directed the Coalition Press Information Centre in Sarajevo, Bosnia as part of NATO’s peace implementation force. His last tasking before retiring in 1999 was directing the Canadian Forces public affairs campaign for NATO operations during the Kosovo mission.
“With 50 years of impeccable service to Queen and country, both in uniform and within the senior echelons of the Public Service, Colonel Coleman has proven to be an accomplished strategic communications practitioner and a staunch supporter of the military Public Affairs community,” stated Colonel Luc Gaudet, Chief of Staff and Public Affairs Branch Advisor.
“As Colonel Commandant, Colonel Coleman will continue his work to foster esprit de corps within the Branch and further the many contributions our members make every day to the Canadian Armed Forces missions, and National Defence mandates, while supporting the ongoing evolution of the military public affairs and imagery functions to adapt to today’s dynamic information environment. We are truly privileged to benefit from Colonel Coleman’s dedication and wisdom.”