02/11/2015 01:10 EST | Updated 04/13/2015 05:59 EDT

Air force chief set to retire as Canadian Forces brass given a shake up

OTTAWA - A number of changes are in the works for military brass, including the retirement of the head of the air force and the promotion of the first woman to run the personnel branch.

The country's top military commander, Gen. Tom Lawson, has announced a series of promotions and new postings, many of which take effect throughout the coming months.

The biggest change is the departure of Lt.-Gen. Ivan Blondin, a veteran fighter pilot who became head of the air force just over two years ago and was one of the biggest champions of the controversial F-35 program.

He will be replaced by Maj.-Gen. Mike Hood, who will get a promotion to lieutenant-general later in the year.

Hood's position, as director of the military's nerve centre at Strategic Joint Staff, will be filled by Maj.-Gen. Charles Lamarre, who led the task force that closed down Canada's mission in Kandahar.

It was also announced that Maj.-Gen. Christine Whitecross will take over as chief of military personnel, replacing Lt.-Gen. David Millar, who led efforts within National Defence to manage the suicide crisis among soldiers in 2013-14.

Whitecross has broken a number of barriers within the military, being the first female commanding officer of construction engineering unit and she was also the first female commander of the country's Joint Task Force North.

"I've never been comfortable with the phrase 'first female'," Whitecross told a internal National Defence publication last fall. "And I never engaged in women’s issues until I became a (commanding officer) and had the opportunity to mentor. I realized that you can really make a difference by opening doors for people, which is so satisfying."

Also, the military surgeon-general, Brig.-Gen. Jean-Robert Bernier, will retire and be replaced by Col. Colin MacKay.