Presentation of Scrolls to Newly Appointed General Officers and Flag Officers
Rideau Hall, Thursday, April 3, 2014
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It is my honour, as commander-in-chief, to welcome all of you to this presentation of scrolls.
You have earned your new ranks at an interesting time for the Canadian Armed Forces.
Just a few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of welcoming home the last of our troops from Afghanistan. To see our men and women reunite with family and loved ones, to see their smiling faces as they returned to the country they call home, was a moment I will never forget.
But what comes next for the Canadian Armed Forces, particularly after more than a dozen years in Afghanistan?
There is much to learn from our experiences in Afghanistan to help our military grow, both in knowledge and in our capacity to manage any future conflict or challenge.
To chart the course of the future, the Forces need the strong leadership that has become synonymous with our military.
During this period of transition, you, our new leaders and commanding officers, will provide direction, support and reassurance. You will ensure our military’s actions are recognized; that our duty to country and to each other remains strong; that the well-being of our men and women in uniform is paramount.
As you well know, leadership itself takes many forms. When serving in the field, in particular, leadership takes on a whole new level when you factor in the unpredictability of events.
But there are two aspects of leadership that are ubiquitous and that will define the Canadian Armed Forces going forward.
The first is trust. Throughout your careers, you have built trust on a personal level, with comrades and subordinates. And you have also built trust among members of the public, by performing your duty in defence of our country and of the ideals that we hold dear.
I have seen first-hand how much trust we have earned on the world stage. It makes me proud to know that the uniforms you wear are symbols of the world’s confidence in our abilities to help others and to do good.
This brings me to the second quality of leadership: compassion.
Our soldiers care. They care for their comrades-in-arms, and they care for those they have been charged to protect. I have seen this in Afghanistan and in numerous other countries I have visited. And I have seen this at home, as troops respond to emergencies and to great need in our communities—during last summer’s flooding in Alberta, for example.
And compassion will also be needed to combat a faceless enemy in mental health issues, especially PTSD. This has been a topic discussed widely, and I will not go into great detail here, but I have every confidence that you will work together and lead by example to overcome this type of hardship and suffering.
Tackling threats and challenges head on—that is what great leadership can do.
You have a responsibility to maintain the high standard you have demonstrated throughout your careers, and I know that you will do so with dedication, honour, service and humility, which are the hallmarks of great soldiers.
Congratulations to all of you, and thank you for what you continue to do for Canada.