Lieutenant-General Rick Hillier, an army officer from Newfoundland, is the Canadian Forces new chief of defence staff.
Prime Minister Paul Martin appointed Hillier in early February to replace General Ray Hénault, who is leaving to take over the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s top military post in Brussels.
Hillier has a great deal of high-level experience in military leadership. He was appointed chief of the army in May 2003 and last year he commanded the 36-country NATO International Security Assistance Force in Kabul, Afghanistan. In 2000 Hillier commanded the Multinational Division Southwest in Bosnia and in 1998 he was the deputy commanding general of the United States Army’s III armoured corps at Fort Hood, Texas.
“It is truly a privilege to receive this appointment,” said Hillier in a statement. “I assume this position with great pride in the Canadian Forces, and even greater humility for being offered this opportunity to lead those who I believe represent the very best of Canadians—the men and women of the Canadian Forces.”
Hillier was competing for the Chief of Defence Staff position with two other men, Vice-Admiral Greg Maddison, the deputy chief of the defence staff, and Vice-Admiral Ron Buck, the vice-chief of defence staff. Hillier’s appointment is a small surprise because, according to the traditional rotation, it was a naval officer’s turn to assume the Chief of Defence Staff posting.
Though Hénault didn’t have to report to his new position until April, Hillier was fast-tracked into the Chief of Defence Staff posting so that he could take part in the process of creating the new defence policy paper.
Hillier seems to have significant credibility with the soldiers he commands and analysts predict he will be a strong leader for the Canadian Forces.
Hillier, 49, was born in Newfoundland and has a wife, two sons, a daughter-in-law and one new grandson. Hillier graduated from Newfoundland’s Memorial University in 1975.