General Rick Hillier
Former Chief of the Defence Staff for Canadian Forces
Since becoming Canada's top soldier in February 2005, General Rick Hillier (Retired) fought two battles, each with his trademark passion and urgency. The first was on the ground in Afghanistan, as Canada's traditional peacekeeping role segued dramatically into a heavy combat mission in the scorching hills of Kandahar. The second battle was for the hearts and minds of Canadians. The most outspoken Canadian military leader in a generation, he left a renewed military, equipped with new aircraft, vehicles and other equipment as well as real-life battle experience that has earned the notice of the world. As a tireless military advocate, he raised the profile of Canada's military, which endeared him to his troops and gave Canada an important card to play at the NATO table.
Born in Newfoundland and Labrador, General Rick Hillier joined the Canadian Forces as soon as he could. Having enrolled in the Canadian Forces in 1973 through the Regular Officer Training Plan program, he graduated from Memorial University of Newfoundland in 1975 with a Bachelor of Science Degree. After completing his armour officer classification training, he joined his first regiment, the 8th Canadian Hussars (Princess Louise's) in Petawawa, Ontario. Subsequently, he served with, and later commanded, the Royal Canadian Dragoons in Canada and Germany.
Throughout his career, General Hillier has had the privilege and pleasure of commanding troops from the platoon to multi-national formation level within Canada, Europe, Asia and the United States. He has worked as a staff officer in several headquarters, first at the Army level in Montreal and later at the strategic level in Ottawa.
In 1998 General Hillier was appointed as the first Canadian Deputy Commanding General of III Corps, US Army in Fort Hood, Texas. In 2000 he took command of NATO's Stabilization Force's (SFOR) Multinational Division (Southwest) in Bosnia-Herzegovina. In May 2003 General Hillier was appointed as Commander of the Army and subsequently, in October 2003, he was selected as the Commander of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Kabul, Afghanistan.
General Hillier was promoted to his present rank and assumed duties as the Chief of the Defence Staff on 4 February 2005. He retired from the Canadian Forces in July 2008. His first book, A Soldier First, was published in October 2009. Leadership Matters, his second book outlining leadership lessons learned in the hard-knock world of the military, was published in the fall of 2010.
Leadership in Tough Times
A talk on leadership in tough times based on lessons learned from the school of hard knocks. Illustrating leadership lessons through the stories of the men and women who represent our country around the world, supported by their families, and doing the toughest jobs imaginable. Their leadership, proven and real, can serve to guide leaders in every part of our society, because they have absorbed that leadership is all about people.
Governance and Public Policy
Recent Publications by General Rick Hillier
A Soldier First
"Warm, witty and wise, General Rick Hillier is an electric speaker who charges his audience with enthusiasm and is an ideal choice for any conference. After a long day of presentations and panel discussions as part of our International Transportation Summit, General Hillier stepped to the podium to deliver an address on Canada's military role in the world and the men and women who define that role. His personal anecdotes and slide presentation put a human touch on the Canadian Military and the families that support them. General Hillier engaged and charmed the crowd, with his fast-paced, information-packed and emotion-filled address. He moved grown men to tears. Need I say more?"Atlantic Provinces Trucking Association
"Unstoppable. Immensely persuasive. Steeped in Newfoundlander charm. Magnetic leader. More impressive than any politician in Ottawa. Ask about a soldier named Rick Hillier and the superlatives never cease." The Globe and Mail