Skip to main content

General (Ret’d) Thomas J Lawson

Guest Speaker

    Professional affiliation

    Former Chief of the Defence Staff, Canada, and Former Deputy Commander of NORAD

    Full Biography

    General (Ret’d) Thomas J Lawson served as the Deputy Commander NORAD in Colorado Springs from 2011-2012.

    General Lawson graduated from the Royal Military College of Canada with a Master’s degree in Electrical Engineering. He then went on to attend the United States Air Force Staff College in Alabama and completed a Master’s in Public Administration at Auburn University. He also completed CF-18 Hornet training and returned to Germany to fly operationally until the base closed. General Lawson then returned to CFB Cold Lake to instruct on the CF-18.

    Appointed Commanding Officer of 412 Squadron, he flew the Challenger aircraft in the VIP role. Lawson was then placed in charge of career management for Air Command, during which time he completed the United States Air Force Air War College.

    As a Colonel, Lawson joined the CF Transformation Team and led the stand up of the Strategic Joint Staff. He was then posted to CFB Trenton as the Wing Commander before being promoted to Brigadier-General and appointed Commandant of his alma mater, the Royal Military College of Canada. Promoted to Major-General, Lawson was appointed Assistant Chief of the Air Staff.

    In 2012, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced the appointment of General Lawson as incoming Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS). As CDS, General Lawson oversaw the completion of the Canadian mission in Afghanistan, the deployment of Canadian troops to Eastern Europe following Russian aggression in Crimea, and the Canadian Forces contribution to the coalition effort against the self-named Islamic State. He retired after 40 years of service in 2015.