The Robert Land Academy Gala
Saturday, April 25, 2020
Robert Land Academy
Tel: 905-386-6203

General (retired) Walter John Natynczyk, C.M.M., MSC, CD

Walter Natynczyk grew up in Winnipeg, Manitoba with his parents and two sisters. His parents immigrated to Canada from Europe following World War II, his father from Poland where he had been in the Polish Army during WWII and his mother from Germany.

As a young teen, he spent five years in the Royal Canadian Air Cadets (RCAC), a Canadian national youth program operated by the Canadian Forces and funded through the Department of National Defence (DND). At the age of 18, he joined the Canadian Armed Forces and attended Royal Roads Military College and Collège militaire royal de Saint-Jean, graduating in 1979 with a Business Administration Degree.

His early years in the Canadian Military were spent on NATO duty in West Germany with The Royal Canadian Dragoons in troop command and staff appointments.

In 1983, Natynczyk assumed duties as a Squadron Commander at the Royal Military College of Canada in Kingston, Ontario followed in 1986 by a five-year regimental tour in Petawawa, serving in several staff and squadron command appointments. During this tour, Natynczyk spent six months in UN peacekeeping duties in Cyprus.

In May 1994, Natynczyk embarked upon a year-long tour with the United Nations in the former Yugoslavia as Sector South-West Chief of Operations in Bosnia and Herzegovina then as the Chief of Land Operations  in Zagreb, Croatia.  

After Natynczyk was assigned to the Vice Chief of the Defence Staff in 1995 he commanded his regiment for two years, leading the Royal Canadian Dragoons in domestic operations during the Winnipeg flooding in 1997 and the Ottawa Ice Storm in 1998. He also returned to Bosnia in 1998 as the Canadian Contingent Commander.
Natynczyk attended the U.S. Army War College, and, serving as an exchange officer in the United States, was appointed Deputy Commanding General, III Corps at Fort Hood. He deployed with III Corps to Baghdad, Iraq, serving first as the Deputy Director of Strategy, Policy and Plans, and then as the Deputy Commanding General of the Multi-National Corps (Iraq) during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Natynczyk led the Corps' 35,000 soldiers, consisting of 10 separate brigades, stationed throughout the Iraq Theatre of Operations. He was later awarded the Meritorious Service Cross specifically for his combat efforts in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Upon his return to Canada, he assumed command of the Land Force Doctrine and Training System. He was subsequently appointed Chief of Transformation, where he was responsible for implementation of the force restructuring.

Natynczyk was promoted to General in 2008 when Prime Minister Stephen Harper appointed him Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS), replacing retiring General Rick Hillier. General Natynczyk served as Canada’s top general until 2012 when he retired from the Military.