Public Affairs Branch welcomes first Colonel Commandant

News release

October 1, 2018 – Ottawa – National Defence / Canadian Armed Forces

Today the Public Affairs Branch proudly welcomes its first ever Colonel Commandant as Colonel (retired) Ralph Coleman formally accepted the honorary appointment during a ceremony at National Defence Headquarters.

The ceremony was presided over by Lieutenant-General Paul Wynnyk, Vice Chief of the Defence Staff. Amongst those in attendance were Jody Thomas, Deputy Minister, and the Honorable Andrew Leslie, Member of Parliament for Orléans. 

Additional multimedia

Colonel (retired) Ralph Coleman OMM CD Colonel Commandant, Public Affairs Branch
Colonel (retired) Ralph Coleman OMM CD Colonel Commandant, Public Affairs Branch


“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. 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.”

- Colonel Luc Gaudet, Chief of Staff and Public Affairs Branch Advisor 

“Having served in the Public Affairs Branch since its formation, it is truly an honour for me to be appointed its first Colonel Commandant. 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!” 

- Colonel Commandant Ralph Coleman, Public Affairs Branch 

Quick facts

  • The tenure of appointment of an Honorary member will normally be for a period of three years.

  • Honorary rank does not confer authority or command function, but instead promotes the unit identity and ethos. Honoraries serve as an advisor to the Commanding Officer on virtually all issues excluding operations. 

  • Colonel Commandant Ralph Coleman began his military service in 1961. He served with 2nd Regiment, Royal Canadian Horse Artillery and 5e Régiment d’artillerie légère du Canada, and was also an Aide-de-Camp to the Governor General of Canada prior to becoming a Public Affairs Officer in 1979. 

  • Colonel Commandant Coleman was seconded to the Prime Minister’s Office as a press officer and tour leader for a number of years and served as Press Secretary to the Prime Minister in 1983-84.

  • Colonel Commandant Coleman served with Canada’s NATO forces in Germany from 1989 to 1993, as Chief of Public Information for Canadian Forces Europe. He served as Senior Canadian Public Affairs Officer in the Canadian Joint Headquarters Middle East during the Gulf War in 1991; headed Canadian Army Public Affairs at Land Force Command Headquarters from 1993 to 1996; directed the Coalition Press Information Centre in Sarajevo, Bosnia in 1996 as part of NATO’s peace implementation force; and also directed the Canadian Forces public affairs campaign for NATO operations during the 1999 Kosovo crisis.

  • Colonel Commandant Coleman culminated his military career notably as head of the Public Affairs Branch, serving at National Defence Headquarters from 1996 to 1999 as Director of Public Affairs Plans and Operations, Public Affairs Branch Advisor and Acting Director General Public Affairs. 

  • Upon his retirement from the military in 1999, he served in the Privy Council Office as Director of Intergovernmental Communications until his retirement in 2011.


Captain Steven Dieter
Chief of Staff’s Office, Assistant Deputy Minister (Public Affairs)
Phone: 613-462-8195

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