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This article was published 21/6/2016 (1247 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
When Maj.-Gen. Christian Drouin joined the military, he never thought he would land the commanding role of all air operations at the Royal Canadian Air Force’s headquarters in Winnipeg.
"My goal was to fly," Drouin said. "I wanted to fly helicopters. And it started right there. It was fun. I wouldn’t change my career one bit."
At a change-of-command ceremony at 17 Wing Winnipeg Tuesday morning, Drouin assumed command of the 1 Canadian Air Division from Maj.-Gen. David Wheeler.
"(Drouin)’s got tremendous experience at the operational level, and his understanding of the day-to-day operations here at 1CAD is enormous," Wheeler said during the ceremony.
"He is definitely the right person to come into this job, and he’s going to do a great job, and I know that he’s going to take care of each and every one of you, day by day."
Drouin is now settling into his new role in Winnipeg, a place he called home for two years. In August 2013, he served as deputy commander force generation before moving to Colorado to take on the role of deputy director of strategy, policy and plans for North American Aerospace Defence Command (Norad) and the United States Northern Command.
Now, Drouin will oversee the jobs of around 12,000 Air Force personnel.
"Everything that flies for the Royal Canadian Air Force is under my operational command," Drouin said. "So, our job is to deliver air power to the support of anything that the Government of Canada will ask for us and the defence of North America with Norad, or the North American command."
Since he became a pilot, Drouin has worked all over the world. He helped demobilize the Contras rebel group in Nicaragua, commanded the Canadian helicopter detachment in Bosnia-Herzegovina and was deployed to Afghanistan as part of the first strategic advisory team. He’s also an honour graduate of the Royal Military College of Canada, with a bachelor’s degree in military art and science and a graduate of the University of Canberra, with a master’s degree in management and defence studies.
After working so hard to earn the role of commander, Drouin said he still remembers what drew him to the military in the first place.
Drouin said he was about 18 years old and living in Quebec when he saw a man on a TV news report talk about tactical aviation in the military.
"I said, ‘I’d really like to do that,’ because I wanted to fly, but I didn’t know exactly what."
Drouin joined the military and got his wings in 1989. The first time he walked into his new squadron, he met a familiar face.
"Who did I meet? My buddy. This guy that I saw on TV that actually made me make the move into the military."
Drouin is now the boss of that man, Col. Steve Charpentier. When asked if he ever thought Drouin would get this far, Charpentier said, "Oh yeah. I always knew."
Looking back, Drouin said one of the biggest challenges throughout his career was learning English, but that didn’t stop him from success.
"I look at obstacles as opportunities. I used to be a long-distance runner and triathlete, and you look at hills and all these obstacles as an opportunity to get over them and get faster and stronger. That’s how I looked at my career."
Updated on Wednesday, June 22, 2016 at 3:43 PM CDT: Changes headline