Northern News Services
Friday, March 16, 2007
YELLOWKNIFE - Chris Whitecross, commander of the Canadian Forces' Joint Task Force North, has been promoted to the rank of brigadier-general.
Whitecross' promotion from the rank of colonel came two weeks ago. She has led Joint Task Force North (JTFN) since July 2006.
Newly promoted Brig.-Gen. Chris Whitecross stands inside the Joint Task Force North building. She came to Yellowknife in July 2006 to take command of the Canadian Forces' Northern region. - Jessica Klinkenberg/NNSL photo
She's the first JTFN member to attain the rank of brigadier general, though she said there was another brigadier general posted here when it was known as Northern Regional Headquarters.
"I think what the promotion means...is the importance the Canadian Forces puts on the North," Whitecross said. "The prominence of it is that we are on the same level as the Joint Task Forces down south."
She said her promotion also reflects the recent importance put on Arctic sovereignty. Her command covers the largest geographical landmass for a joint task force, though she oversees fewer soldiers and staff than a military headquarters down south.
"The (area of responsibility) is 84 per cent of the Canadian landmass," she said.
Her responsibilities aren't likely to change with her new rank, but a transfer is possible as of next year, she said.
Whitecross shared news of her promotion with her husband and three teenaged children over the phone, as she found out about it while attending events in Ottawa.
She originally joined the army for what was intended to be a five-year stint.
The importance of being promoted during International Women's Week wasn't lost on her, she said. Whitecross is hoping that her promotion will encourage other women in the military.
She joined the Canadian Forces in 1982 while studying chemical engineering at Queen's University in Kingston, Ont.
Her first posting was to Germany, and she served in the engineering division of the United Nations Protection Force in the former Yugoslavia in 1995.
Whitecross said JTFN is undergoing a changeover from being merely an administrative centre for local military, with the focus on expanding its programs.
"We're enhancing our capabilities in the North," said Whitecross.