October, 1975, Canadian Aviation
Air Command, the new Canadian Forces organization responsible for this country’s air power at home and abroad, came into being at Winnipeg on September 2. An inaugural ceremony for the event, with federal, provincial and municipal officials in attendance, marked a new chapter in Canada’s 66-year-old history of military aviation. Thirty years ago Air Command’s predecessor, the Royal Canadian Air Force, was the fourth-ranking Allied air power aligned against the Axis nations.
The new organization will consolidate aviation functions currently being performed by three separate Commands of the Forces. It will unify all air resources, regular and reserve, to co-ordinate their employment and deployment more effectively and economically. Air Command Defense Minister James Richardson stated, “We will be the focal point for airmen of the Forces, in the same way that Mobile and Maritime Commands are regarded by soldiers and sailors.”
An inaugural ceremony and parade to launch the Command, on the flight line of CFB Winnipeg, saw General Jacques Dextraze, Chief of the Defence Staff, hand over the new organization to its first commander, Lieutenant-General William K. Carr, 52, the Force’s top-ranking airman. Gen. Carr, a World War II fighter pilot at the age of 19, was born at Grand Bank, Newfoundland, and formerly served at Winnipeg as head of Training Command from 1968-71. His latest assignment has been Deputy Chief of the Defense Staff in Ottawa.
Flanking the inaugural ceremony were various types of Forces aircraft and the flags of all provinces and territories. On parade were more than 450 members of sea, land and air units based at Winnipeg. A cairn marking the event was unveiled by Manitoba Lieutenant-Governor W. J. McKeag. In addition to the Minister of National Defence, others attendees included Manitoba Premier Ed Shreyer, and Winnipeg Mayor Stephen Juba.
Mr. Richardson said Air Command Headquarters at Winnipeg would comprise a staff of 302 military and 139 civilian positions. It will control approximately 38 bases and stations in all 10 provinces, as well as four Northwest Territories sites of the Distant Early Warning Line.
A collateral appointment of General Carr’s was that of Commander of Prairie Region. In this capacity he is responsible for regional commitments and support functions in the three Prairie provinces and Northwestern Ontario. Included are the operation of provincial warning centres – maintenance of regional emergency government headquarters, and their manning in emergency operations – assistance to civil authorities, aid of the civil power – survival operations – and the direction and training of cadets.
With the formation of Air Command there will be three easily identifiable Commands responsible for sea, land and air operations in the Forces. More of the day-to-day functions of the Forces now performed at Ottawa will be delegated to these three Commands.
National Defence Headquarters at Ottawa will become a more compact organization, primarily responsible for policy development, long-range planning in areas common to the Forces as a whole. Air Command will exercise jurisdiction over air doctrine, flight safety and common air policy matters, such as air training standards. It will encompass functions formerly performed by Air Defence and Air Transport Commands, as well as the air training formerly controlled by Training Command.
This article originally appeared in the October, 1975 edition of Canadian Aviation magazine.