Chief of the Defence Staff announces Lieutenant-General Mike Rouleau as the new Vice Chief of the Defence Staff as part of the 2020 Canadian Armed Forces General and Flag Officer senior appointments, promotions, and retirements

News release

March 16, 2020 – Ottawa – National Defence / Canadian Armed Forces

General Jonathan Vance, Chief of the Defence Staff, today announced Lieutenant-General Mike Rouleau as the new Vice Chief of the Defence Staff. The announcement is part of the 2020  Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) General and Flag Officer (GOFO) senior appointments, promotions, and retirements.

General Officers (Canadian Army and the Royal Canadian Air Force) and Flag Officers (Royal Canadian Navy) lead the CAF in defending our country’s values and interests, here at home and abroad. They share the responsibility for the stewardship of the entire institution, and for the profession of arms as a whole.

This year, the following GOFO positions were established to meet CAF operational requirements:

  • For the first time ever, the CAF will be sending a General Officer to the United States Air Force Space Command (USAFSPC). Brigadier-General K.G. Whale will be appointed to the new position as the Deputy Commander Plans for USAFSPC in Colorado Springs, responsible for plans, programs, requirements and analysis.
  • To enhance the high readiness requirements of the Canadian Special Operations Forces Command (CANSOFCOM), Colonel M. Gros-Jean will be appointed to a new position as Deputy Commander Support to oversee the daily Force Management and Force Sustainment activities of CANSOFCOM in Ottawa.
  • The one-year temporary assignment of Chief SSE Combat Systems Implementation will be taken on by Rear-Admiral J.B. Zwick to oversee the examination of pan-domain Force Development, Force Generation, Corporate Management, and Command and Control for CAF Joint Combat Systems.

To note, Major-General A.M.T. Downes will retire from service and his responsibilities as the Surgeon General and Commander of the Canadian Forces Health Services Group (CFHSG). Brigadier-General J.G.M. Bilodeau will be appointed as the new Surgeon General and Commodore R.L. Patterson will be appointed to Commander of the CFHSG, in Ottawa.

Lieutenant-General Mike Rouleau will be replaced by Lieutenant-General C.J. Coates who will be appointed Commander Canadian Joint Operations Command, in Ottawa.

Major-General F.J. Allen will be promoted to the rank of Lieutenant-General and appointed as Canadian Military representative to NATO, in Brussels Belgium, replacing Vice-Admiral D.C. Hawco.

Furthermore, Commodore G. Bernatchez will be promoted to the rank of Rear-Admiral and will remain as the CAF Judge Advocate General, in Ottawa ON. Brigadier-General R. Goodyear will be promoted to the rank of Major-General and will remain as Assistant Deputy Minister (Finance) Director General Budget, in Ottawa.


“The Canadian Armed Forces is proud of this year’s selected General and Flag Officers.  These individuals have demonstrated tremendous ability to assume significant responsibilities and prevail in challenging circumstances, all while exuding exemplary leadership. To those leaving the Force, you are institutional leaders and we are grateful for your service to our country.”

-       General Jonathan Vance, Chief of the Defence Staff

“It will be a great honour for me to lead as second in command of the Canadian Armed Forces, an institution I deeply respect and is embodied by a military force and Defence Team that is second to none. I thank the Chief of the Defence Staff and others for their confidence, and will take this opportunity to further the work of my predecessors to move the organization forward by capitalizing on our strengths as a highly professional, capable fighting force that is empowered by the trust of Canadians.”

-       Lieutenant-General Mike Rouleau, Vice Chief of the Defence Staff Designate

Quick facts

  • The CAF GOFO Cadre will account for 136 effective personnel for 2020. This includes 107 Regular Force permanent positions and 20 Regular Force temporary positions (six dedicated to operations; 14 supporting the institution), as well as nine permanent and three temporary Reserve Force positions.

  • As of February 2020, there are 14 female General Officers and Flag Officers (13 Regular Force and one Reserve Force), representing 10.2% of all GOFOs in the CAF.

  • The number of senior staff fluctuates as a result of the needs of the military to meet Government of Canada and institutional objectives, which is constantly changing. Certain positions have been created to help us meet the following commitments found in Canada’s defence policy, Strong, Secure, Engaged: supporting health and resilience, investments in the Royal Canadian Navy, enhancing cyber capabilities, transforming innovation for defence excellence and security, and continued global defence engagement.

Associated links


Biographies of senior officers may be made available upon request by contacting Media Relations.

Media Relations
Department of National Defence
Phone: 613-904-3333

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