In RCAF Today 2019, we examine personnel retention, fighter procurement, future aircrew training and more!
The following is excerpted from the 2018 holiday message that LGen Al Meinzinger, commander of the RCAF, sent to Air Force personnel and the extended RCAF family.
We can honestly say that 2018 has been an extraordinary year for the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF).
The year was bookended by the Sea King, with the last east coast operational flight of our maritime helicopter taking place in January and the official farewell and final flights taking place in December. It’s hard to say farewell to an old friend such as the Sea King, but the Cyclone is proving to be a tremendous asset to the RCAF and the Royal Canadian Navy, and the first operational deployment of the Cyclone onboard HMCS Ville de Quebec was a tremendous milestone.
This year also brought our participation in a major UN peacekeeping operation, with stellar work being carried out by our Air Task Force personnel in Mali under Op Presence. We also continued our contributions to Op Caribbe and Op Impact. On the space aspect of “air and space power,” we are now an integral part of the Combined Space Operations Centre in California, with a member of the RCAF serving as the combined deputy director.
Meanwhile, at home, our ongoing, essential search and rescue (SAR) missions continued, as well as sovereignty operations and exercises in the North. We responded to several Op Lentus missions, including fires in British Columbia and Manitoba, flooding in Kaschechewan, Ont., and storm damage on les Îles de la Madeleine.
We also participated in marking a number of significant anniversaries this year, including the 60th anniversary of NORAD. We also marked the 100th anniversary of the Royal Air Force and, as part of those celebrations, sent a contingent to the United Kingdom to undertake Public Duties–guarding the residences of Her Majesty the Queen.
2018 also brought the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War, as well as the 75th anniversary of the Dambusters Raid. In April, I was privileged to attend the opening of the International Bomber Command Centre in England, which is mandated to preserve and honour the memory of all those who served in the Command. I was reminded powerfully of the courageous contributions of our RCAF personnel, noting that we lost some 10,000 RCAF personnel during the bombing campaign.
As we look forward to 2019, we must continue to focus on our anchor points: our people, our defence policy, our program and our posture.
First and foremost among these are you, our people. Successful delivery of air and space power relies on well-led, robust, healthy and inclusive squadrons and tactical units. You and your families are our lifeblood, and your leaders will continue to create the right conditions to support you, retain your exceptional talents and attract personnel with the right skills and energy to continue your excellent work and move us into the future. We are extremely grateful for and proud of your enthusiasm, your dedicated service and your unparalleled professionalism. You may also rest assured that your work is deeply appreciated by Canadians, by your colleagues throughout the Canadian Armed Forces and Department of National Defence, and by our allies.