Briefing

Second-in-command of Canadian Forces resigns, seventh senior leader to depart in the past year

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In a resignation letter, Paul Wynnyk accused Jonathan Vance, chief of the defence staff, of planning to replace him with Vice-Admiral Mark Norman, then changing his mind and asking Wynnyk to stay. Wynnyk is the seventh lieutenant-general or vice-admiral to leave since 2018. Vance did not address Wynnyk’s allegations, instead lauding him as an “exceptional leader” and “even better friend.” (Global, Ottawa Citizen)

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Talking point: The turmoil among Canada’s senior most military leaders comes as the defence department is facing a number of major issues. On the procurement front, the cost of new warships has ballooned to $70 billion, and Airbus and Boeing are considering pulling out of a bidding process on fighter jets over concerns it’s unfairly tilted toward Lockheed Martin’s F-35. The military is also facing pressure from activists over white supremacists in its ranks and inquiries from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau about why the families of soldiers who died in Afghanistan weren’t invited to the dedication of the Afghanistan Memorial in Ottawa. Vance has been trying to resolve those issues while he deals with the revolving door in the senior leadership ranks. Filling Wynnyk’s role may be difficult. The vice-chief of defence job must go to a three-star general. There are a few available, but many of them were only recently promoted to the rank, and the job usually goes to a more experienced officer. There’s also growing unrest with Vance’s leadership among at least some of the senior officers. Although Wynnyk’s letter was only sent to the most senior officers in Canada’s military, it was leaked within 20 minutes.