As Chief of the Defence Staff, General Ray Henault is the highest-ranking member of the Canadian Forces. General Henault was born and raised in Winnipeg and St. Jean Baptiste and joined the Canadian Forces in 1968. Like most military officers he has had a very diverse career during which he has served in over 20 different positions. Operationally, he has been a fighter pilot, a helicopter pilot, a flying instructor and an air traffic controller, and he has logged 4,500 hours of flying time. He has commanded a tactical helicopter squadron in Germany, served as Base Commander of the Canadian Forces Base at Portage Ia Prairie, and has served in a wide variety of other command and staff positions.
While General Henault has been an outstanding officer throughout his career, his leadership abilities are exemplified by the contributions he has made in his last two appointments. From 1998 to 2001 he was the Deputy Chief of the Defence Staff. The Deputy Chief is responsible for all military operations including peacekeeping, assisting communities in tasks such as flood relief, and training exercises. This job is always a challenging one, but during General Henault's tenure the nature of military operations was changing very dramatically. During the Cold War, the war tasks and roles of the military were quite well-defined and peacekeeping typically involved operations where the task was keeping two different groups apart by patrolling a border. However, since that time things have become much more complex. Peacekeeping has often become peace enforcement, typically involving intemal disputes rather than disputes between countries, and the demands on the mflitary have become much less predictable and much more dangerous. During his time as Deputy Chief, General Henauit responded very effectively to the immediate challenges that came on a daily basis and also was able to implement flexible procedures and processes that will enable the Canadian Forces to respond quickly to the difficult operational challenges it will face in the future.
Since becoming Chief of the Defence Staff in 2001, General Henault has done much to improve the operational capabilities and the equipment of the Canadian Forces. He has also made a major contribution through his efforts to restore morale and to improve the public image of the Canadian Forces. He has focused on making working conditions better for the men and women of the Canadian Forces, and despite severe budgetary constraints he has been able to make significant improvements in the quality of life issues that affect all service members.
General Henault is a graduate of the University of Manitoba. He is also a graduate of the Ecole superieure de guerre in Paris, France and of the National Defence College in Kingston. His accomplishments have been formally recognized in many different ways. He is a Commander of the Order of Military Merit, a Member of the Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem, and a Commander of the French Legion of Honour.
General Henauit's accomplishments make him a very worthy recipient of an Honorary Doctorate of Laws. As a graduate of the University of Manitoba's Canadian Forces University Program, he is also an outstanding representative of the 1200 military members and dependents who have graduated from this program.