Chief of the Defence Staff - Biography

Admiral Art McDonald, CMM, MSM, CD

A Bluenoser born in New Waterford, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia in 1967, Admiral Art McDonald became Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS) and assumed command of the Canadian Armed Forces 14 January 2021, becoming the 20th CDS. Prior to his appointment as CDS, Adm McDonald commanded the Royal Canadian Navy from 2019 to 2021. He had also previously commanded at the ship (HMCS HALIFAX 2007-2009), Operations Group / Fleet (Maritime Operations Group Five 2010-2011), and Formation (Maritime Forces Pacific and Joint Task Force Pacific 2016-2018) levels.

After completing basic Naval Warfare Officer training and then becoming an Above Water Warfare specialist in the early nineties, he spent most of the next two-decades as a sea-going officer while serving in HMC Ships VANCOUVER, HALIFAX, MONTREAL, and CALGARY, with the Canadian Fleet Pacific staff, as Executive Officer in REGINA 2003-2005, and as Commanding Officer in HALIFAX 2007-2009. In so doing, he deployed repeatedly – including three Arabian Gulf and one Adriatic Sea tours - and also circumnavigated the globe (CALGARY, 1995). As a Capt(N), he was the Maritime Component Commander of Canadian Joint Task Force (Haiti), leading sea-based humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations in response to the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. He then commanded a seven-ship combined, multi-national Task Group in the High Arctic later in 2010 during the annual Op NANOOK. Later, as a RAdm, he also led the CAF’s recurring Op LENTUS responses to historic fires and floods in BC while commanding Joint Task Force Pacific 2016-2018.

As a staff officer, Adm McDonald served four tours on the Naval Staff in National Defence Headquarters in Ottawa. In addition to service as Deputy Commander RCN 2018-2019, he was Director General Naval Force Development (DGNFD) 2013-2016, Director Naval Requirements (DNR) 2012-2013, and Executive Secretary to the Chief of the Maritime Staff 2005-2007.

A 1990 graduate of the Royal Military College (RMC) of Canada who holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Military and Strategic Studies and a Masters of Defence Studies, Adm McDonald is also a graduate of the 2003 Canadian Forces College (CFC) Command and Staff Course, the 2012 CFC National Security Studies Programme, and the 2014 US GOFO Capstone Program. A 2016 alumnus of the Asia-Pacific Centre for Security Studies, he is also a graduate of the Senior Executives in National and International Security program at Harvard University (2017).

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