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Top Guns: Canada and NATO Air Task Force Romania

On May 13th, 2021, the NATO Association of Canada is proud to host two of the Royal Canadian Air Force’s finest officers, returning from leadership of NATO’s Air Task Force Romania to secure Eastern Europe’s skies against rival incursions. Fighter pilot Lt. Col. David McLeod and mission support officer Major Isabelle Rochon will share their perspectives from the frontlines of NATO’s most pressing security threat, outline Russian efforts to enhance its aerial edge and describe life in the military and service on international missions. Their fresh insights will help us understand the active and complex dynamics of a geopolitical hotbed – wrought by the legacy of the Cold War, and several decades in the making.

Meet the Speakers

Lieutenant Colonel David C. McLeod, C.D. was born in Victoria, British Columbia and joined the Canadian Armed Forces in June of 2000. He attended the Royal Military College of Canada in Kingston, Ontario, graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering in 2004 before proceeding to Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, for flight training. McLeod conducted flight training on the CT-156 Harvard II and the CT-155 Hawk before completing Fighter Pilot training on the CF-18 Hornet as part of Fighter Pilot Course 39 at 410 Tactical Fighter Operation Training Squadron in Cold Lake, Alberta. His first operational posting was to 425 Tactical Fighter Squadron in Bagotville, Quebec, in the winter of 2007.

Since 2007, McLeod has flown over 1,900 hours, completing two operational tours on the CF-18 Hornet at 425 Tactical Fighter Squadron in Bagotville, one tour as an instructor pilot on the CT-155 Hawk at 419 Tactical Fighter Training Squadron in Cold Lake, and a tour as a supervisor at 3 Wing Operations, Bagotville. He has deployed to Operation Reassurance (Romania and Lithuania) in 2014 and to Operation Impact (Kuwait) in 2015. Selected for staff college in 2016, McLeod attended the U.S. Air Force Air Command and Staff College, as well as the USAF School of Advanced Air and Space Studies located at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, Alabama – gaining two Master’s degrees in Military Operational Art & Science and Philosophy and Military Strategy, respectively. Afterwards, McLeod was posted to 1 Canadian Air Division Headquarters in Winnipeg, Manitoba, as a Senior Staff Officer (Fighters).

In 2019 McLeod was re-posted to 3 Wing Bagotville to assume command of 3 Operational Support Squadron, and in July of 2020 took command of 433 Tactical Fighter Squadron, which he currently leads. In August, 2020, he deployed to Mihail Kogalniceanu Air Base, Romania, to conduct NATO Enhanced Air Policing Operations over the Black Sea under Operation Reassurance as the commander of Air Task Force Romania 2020. He was awarded the Canadian Forces Decoration in 2013, recognizing 12 years of exemplary service. Accompanying him on his journey through military life are his wife Andrée-Anne, and their two children George and Rose.

Major Isabelle Rochon was born in Chicoutimi, Quebec and joined the Canadian Armed Forces as an Air Logistics Officer in 2008. Upon completion of her basic military officer qualification, she was posted to the Logistic and Engineering Division at 3 Wing Bagotville, Quebec, and subsequently to Wing Administration following logistic and specialty training.

Promoted Captain in 2011, Rochon was posted to the 5th Area Support Group in St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec, as the Food Service Officer for the Montreal region encompassing St-Jean, Farnham and Longue-Pointe. Transferred to 8 Wing Trenton in 2013 as the Wing Food Services Officer, she participated in Exercises UNIFIED and MAPLE RESOLVE. In 2014, she deployed on Operation REASSURANCE as the Mission Support Element (MSE) Deputy Officer Commanding (OC), the MSE Operations Officer and MSE OC in Romania, Lithuania and Germany respectively. She received a Canadian Joint Operations Command (CJOC) Commendation for her contribution to the local communities as the Charity Officer, where she led the project of building a house for a Romanian Family in need and partnership to visit and provide strollers to a Lithuanian Orphanage. Upon return from tour in 2015, she was posted to 429 Transport Squadron as the Squadron Logistic Officer.

Following her promotion to Major in May 2017, Rochon was posted to 2 Air Expeditionary Training Squadron as the MSE Training OC and subsequently the Deputy Commanding Officer of 2 Mission Support Squadron; leading the logistic and engineering training for future Air Task Forces (ATFs), notably ATF-IMPACT Roto 6 and 7 and ATF-REASSURANCE Roto 1 and 2. In May 2018, she was the Officer-in-Command for the Airfield Activation Surge Team for Operation CADENCE in support of the G7 Summit at Charlevoix, Quebec, for which she received a CJOC Commendation for her leadership in the planning and execution.

She is currently serving as the Officer Commanding of the Replenishment Flight at 17 Mission Support Squadron in Winnipeg, MB and most recently deployed for a second time to Romania as the Officer Commanding of the Mission Support Element of Air Task Force Romania, from August 2020 to February 2021, in support of Canada’s NATO assurance and deterrence measures.

Major Rochon graduated with an Arts degree from Université Laval. Her interests include CrossFit, Olympic weightlifting, alpine skiing, hiking, snowshoeing and cooking.

Arjun Singh (Moderator) is a Programme Editor at the NATO Association of Canada. He will graduate from the University of Toronto in June of 2021 with a bachelor’s degree in political science, international relations and American studies. Previously, Singh has served as a policy analyst with the U.S. Department of State, Parliament of India, G7 & G20 Research Groups and Canadian Centre for the Responsibility to Protect. He was a Young Global Scholar at Yale University in 2017. Singh seeks to join Canadian Armed Forces and pursue a political and public service career.

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  • NATO Association of Canada

    The NATO Association of Canada (NAOC) strives to educate and engage Canadians about NATO and its goals of peace, prosperity and security. The NAOC ensures Canada has an informed citizenry able to participate in discussions about its role on the world stage.

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NATO Association of Canada
The NATO Association of Canada (NAOC) strives to educate and engage Canadians about NATO and its goals of peace, prosperity and security. The NAOC ensures Canada has an informed citizenry able to participate in discussions about its role on the world stage.