The Canadian military is getting its first female vice chief of defence staff.
According to an internal military notice of promotions seen by Global News, Lt.-Gen. Mike Rouleau will no longer hold the position and Lt.-Gen. Frances J. Allen will take over the role in his place.
The annual list of promotions and retirements for the Canadian Armed Forces was provided by a source, who asked for anonymity to disclose the private notice.
Allen has served as Canada’s military representative to the NATO military council since July 2020. She has a long career in the military and has held numerous leadership roles including as deputy vice chief of the defence staff and as director general of the military’s cyberspace division.
Rouleau was named to the role in July 2020 and has previously served as commander of the Canadian Special Operations Forces Command and the Canadian Joint Operations Command.
He will move instead to the role of strategic advisor to the chief of the defence staff on future capabilities.
The unusual move will see Rouleau advising acting Chief of Defence Staff Lt.-Gen. Wayne Eyre on modernizing military investments and plans.
It comes as the military faces a crisis of allegations of sexual misconduct against high-level leaders that has led to military police investigations into both the current and former chiefs of the defence staff.
Gen. Jonathan Vance, who was chief of defence staff until this past January, is facing allegations of inappropriate behaviour involving two women subordinates while he held earlier posts in the military.
Vance denies the allegations, which were first reported by Global News and have sparked multiple internal and external investigations.
Adm. Art McDonald, Vance’s successor, stepped aside in February amid an investigation into separate allegations against him.
Global News revealed on Sunday that a senior naval officer who brought forward an allegation of sexual misconduct against McDonald received anonymous threats warning his career would be in jeopardy for taking action. He was also told to take the report elsewhere after first bringing the allegation to the defence ministry, according to sources.
In an interview last October with Global News, Rouleau defended the progress the military was making on combatting sexism and sexual assault through Operation Honour, but admitted more could be done.
“We are making progress. It’s not as fast as everybody would want, it’s not as fast as the (chief of defence staff) or I want, but it’s progress,” he said, pointing to the open conversations he’s had regularly with women in the military whom he mentors.
“This is not a female problem, this is a Canadian Armed Forces problem, and so I think that there’s some strength in the diversity of that,” he added.
–With files from Sean Boynton