By Kimberly D. Burke, Western Air Defense Sector Public Affairs
Canadian Brig. Gen. Sylvain Menard (center), Continental U.S. North American Aerospace Defense Region (CONR) deputy commander, presides over the Western Air Defense Sector Canadian Detachment change of command. Lt. Col. Michael Fawcett (left) assumes command from the outgoing commander, Lt. Col. Matthew Wappler (right), during the ceremonial signing of the change of command scrolls July 10, 2018. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Kimberly D. Burke)
The Canadian Detachment at the Western Air Defense Sector officially changed command Tuesday.
Lt. Col. Michael Fawcett assumed command from Lt. Col. Matthew Wappler, who finished a three-year tour of duty as the Canadian Detachment commanding officer. Fawcett’s responsibilities will include leading the 15-member Canadian Detachment and serving as part of the WADS staff. Wappler is transferring to 1 Canadian Air Division in Winnipeg, Manitoba, as the senior staff officer for Aerospace Capabilities and Readiness.
"Canadian Forces personnel are a critical part of the WADS daily operations and play an essential role in protecting the North American airspace. We have been working side-by-side since 1960 in this building," said Col. William Krueger, 225th Air Defense Group commander. "On behalf of the unit, I want to welcome Lt. Col. Fawcett and his family back to the WADS. I also want to thank Lt. Col. Wappler and his family for their service and wish them the best in their new assignment."
A formal change of command ceremony is a long-standing Canadian military tradition marking the public transfer of command responsibilities. Canadian Brig. Gen. Sylvain Menard, Continental United States North American Aerospace Defense (NORAD) Region deputy commander, based in Tyndall AFB, Fla., presided over the ceremony.
Rather than exchanging flags, as is the American military custom, Menard, Wappler and Fawcett signed the change of command scrolls (formal orders).
Fawcett is a 36-year veteran of the Canadian Armed Forces. He comes to WADS from 1 Canadian Air Division, Canadian NORAD Region, where he served as the chief of Combat Operations Division and also served as the section chief of A5/A7 Continental.
He has completed several operational deployments which include Operation Deny Flight/Deliberate Force, Operational Allied Force-Kosovo, Operation Crescent Guard, Operation Enduring Freedom, and Operation Foundation/Inherent Resolve. Fawcett has more than 4,400 flying hours including 350 combat hours.
Fawcett holds a Bachelor of Arts and Science degree and a Master of Arts in War Studies from the Royal Military College of Canada.
The Western Air Defense Sector is headquartered at Joint Base Lewis-McChord and is staff by active-duty Washington Air National Guardsmen, Royal Canadian Air Force, U.S. Navy liaison officers, and Federal civilians. The unit supports the North American Aerospace Defense Command's (NORAD) integrated warning and attack assessment missions and the U.S. Northern Command's (USNORTHCOM) homeland defense mission. WADS is responsible for air sovereignty and counter-air operations over the Western United States and directs a variety of assets to defend 2.2 million square miles of land and sea west of the Mississippi River.