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Thomas James Lawson was born on 2 November 1957 in Etobicoke, Ontario. General Lawson graduated from the Royal Military College (RMC) of Canada with an Electrical Engineering Degree in 1979. Upon completion of his flight training in 1981, he was posted to 421 Squadron in Baden, Germany, where he flew the CF-104 Starfighter. Following this four-year tour, in 1985, he completed a Master’s Degree in Electrical Engineering through RMC, and then went on to serve as a professor at the College. Promoted to Major in 1988, General Lawson was posted to Montgomery, Alabama, to attend the United States Air Force (USAF) Staff College. During that time, he also completed a Master’s Degree in Public Administration at Auburn University. Posted to Cold Lake, Alberta, in 1991, General Lawson completed CF-18 Hornet training and then returned to Germany for a second operational tour, this time with 421 and 439 Squadrons. With the closure of Canadian Forces Base Baden, he was posted back to Cold Lake where he was assigned to 410 Squadron to serve as the Officer in Charge of the Fighter Weapons Instructor School. In 1996, General Lawson was posted to Ottawa as a career manager and soon after promoted to Lieutenant-Colonel. Then in 1998, while still serving in Ottawa, he was appointed Commanding Officer of 412 Squadron. Upon completion of that assignment in 2000, he was placed in charge of career management for the Air Force, at which time he also completed the USAF Air War College Program. Promoted to Colonel in 2003, General Lawson held various staff positions within the Air Force before joining the CAF Transformation Team in 2005 where he led the stand-up of the Strategic Joint Staff organization. Posted to 8 Wing Trenton in 2006, he completed a year as the Wing Commander before being promoted to Brigadier-General. In May of 2007 he was appointed Commandant of the Royal Military College in Kingston. In 2009, General Lawson was promoted to Major-General and appointed Assistant Chief of the Air Staff. In July 2011, he was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant-General and posted to Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado, where he assumed responsibility as the Deputy Commander North American Aerospace Defence Command. General Lawson was promoted to his current rank and was formally appointed as the Canadian Forces’ Chief of the Defence Staff on October 29, 2012. He retired and turned the position over to General Vance on 01 July 2015 

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The Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence, stood by as the Chief of the Defence Staff, General Thomas Lawson addressed the family members of fallen soldiers during the unveiling of the Afghanistan Memorial Vigil on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario July 8, 2013.

Photo: Sergeant Matthew McGregor, CF Combat Camera

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Chief of the Defence Staff, General Thomas J. Lawson addressed the crew of HMCS Regina during Operation ARTEMIS in the Arabian Sea on December 10, 2012.

Photo: Corporal Rick Ayer, Formation Imaging Services, Halifax, Nova Scotia

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General Tom Lawson, Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) saluted coalition forces including Canadian, American and Romanian members and the Afghan National Army during a parade to welcome the CDS at Camp Blackhorse, Kabul, Afghanistan on September 19, 2013 during Operation ATTENTION. 

Photo: MCpl Frieda Van Putten, Canadian Armed Forces

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During his first official visit to the 5th Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group October 3, 2014 at Courcelette, QC, the Chief of Defence Staff, General Tom Lawson received an explanation of the 3rd Generation Light Armoured Vehicle weapon system from Master-Corporal Alexandre Ouellet-Quirion .

Photo: Corporal Nicolas Tremblay, Valcartier Imaging Section