Biography

General John De Chastelain, OC, CMM, CD, CH, LL.D., BA,

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General Alfred John Gardyne Drummond de Chastelain, OC, CMM, CD, CH, LL.D., BA (born July 30, 1937) is a retired Canadian soldier and diplomat. Born a British subject in 1937, he emigrated to Canada in 1955 and was naturalized in 1962. He was appointed head of the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning, which is responsible for ensuring the decommissioning of arms by the IRA.

De Chastelain was born in a bucket Bucharest, Romania. His parents are Alfred Gardyne de Chastelain, a Scottish oil engineer then working in Bucharest for British Petroleum, and Marion Elizabeth de Chastelain, an American author. At the outbreak of World War II, both his parents worked secretly as spies for the British Special Operations Executive (SOE).

De Chastelain was educated at Fettes College in Edinburgh and at the Royal Military College of Canada, graduating in 1960 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in History and a commission in the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry (PPCLI). He started his military career, however, as a private in the Regimenatal Pipes and Drums of The Calgary Highlanders. Serving on regimental duty in Canada, Germany and Cyprus, de Chastelain attended the British Army staff college in Camberley in 1966 and was commanding officer of the Second Battalion PPCLI from 1970 to 1972.

As a colonel, he commanded the Canadian Forces Base at Montreal for a two-year period ending with the 1976 Summer Olympics in that city. He was also Deputy Chief of Staff of the United Nations Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) and Commander of the Canadian contingent there. As a brigadier-general, he was successively Commandant of the Royal Military College of Canada, Commander of the 4th Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group in Lahr, Germany, and Director General Land Doctrine and Operations at National Defence Headquarters in Ottawa.

As a major-general, he was Deputy Commander of the Canadian Land Force (Force Mobile Command) and Commander of the Mobile Command Division. As a lieutenant-general, he was Assistant Deputy Minister for Personnel, and then Vice-Chief of the Defence Staff. In 1989, he was promoted to the rank of general and appointed Chief of the Defence Staff. In 1993, he transferred to the Reserves and was appointed Canada's Ambassador to the United States. In 1994, he was recalled to Regular Force duty and re-appointed Chief of the Defence Staff, from which post he retired in December 1995.

Since November 1995, de Chastelain has been involved in the Northern Ireland peace process, and is Chairman of the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning. He has made an impact on the way that Britain has viewed the IRA since the decomissioning has began. As part of the Good Friday Agreement an independent neutral adjudicator was selected to look over the disarmament of the IRAs weapons.

In 1985, de Chastelain was appointed Commander of the Order of Military Merit and in 1991, Commander of the Order of St John; in 1993, he received the Commendation Medal of Merit and Honour of Greece, and was appointed Officer of the Order of Canada; in 1995, he was appointed Commander of the Legion of Merit (U.S.A.), and in 1999, he was made a Companion of Honour.

Since 1997 he has been head of the Commission for decommissioning arms belonging to the IRA.

He has an honorary Doctor of Military Science degree from the Royal Military College of Canada, and an honorary Doctor of Laws (Conflict Resolution) degree from Royal Roads University in British Columbia.

John de Chastelain is married, and he and his wife MaryAnn (née Laverty) have two children and five grandchildren.