General (Ret’d) Walt Natynczyk served with distinction with the Canadian Armed Forces and continues to serve our country today as Deputy Minister of Veterans Affairs.
Originally from Winnipeg, the General joined the Canadian Armed Forces in 1975 after five years as an air cadet. He has served in numerous regimental command positions at all levels from tank troop leader up to commanding officer of the Royal Canadian Dragoons.
His operational experience consists of four years on NATO duty in Germany, six months of UN peacekeeping duties in Cyprus (1989) and a yearlong mission with the United Nations in the former Yugoslavia (1994). In 1995, he was Chief of Land Operations at the UN Protection Forces headquarters in Zagreb, Croatia.
He commanded the Royal Canadian Dragoons in domestic operations during the Winnipeg floods of 1997 and in Ottawa during the Ice Storm of 1998. He returned to Bosnia-Herzegovina in 1998 as the Canadian Contingent Commander.
General Natynczyk served as Deputy Commanding General, III (U.S.) Armored Corps and deployed to Baghdad throughout 2004. Upon his return to Canada, he assumed command of the Canadian Army’s Doctrine and Training System. Subsequently appointed Chief of Transformation, he was responsible for implementing the restructuring of the force. He served as Vice-Chief of Defence Staff from 2006 to 2008.
Walt Natynczyk served as Canada’s Chief of Defence Staff from July 2008 to October 2012. Key events over his tenure were the combat mission in Afghanistan, the 2010 Winter Olympics, humanitarian support to Haiti and the NATO mission over Libya.
After retiring from the forces, Walt served as President of the Canadian Space Agency from August 2013 to November 2014, when he was appointed Deputy Minister of Veterans Affairs.
His decorations include the Commander of the Order of Military Merit (Canada), the Meritorious Service Cross (Canada), the Commander Legion of Merit (U.S.), Commander Légion d’honneur (France), Commander’s Cross of the Order of Merit (Poland) and the Medal of Merit in Gold (Netherlands).
Walt attended Royal Roads Military College and Royal Military College Saint-Jean. He is a graduate of the Canadian Forces Command and Staff College, the U.K. All-Arms Tactics Course and the U.S. Army War College, where he earned his Master’s in Defence Studies.
He and his wife Leslie have three children: Margaret, William and John, who are serving in the Canadian Navy, Air Force and Army respectively.