OTTAWA – Lt.-Gen. Thomas Lawson has been named as Canada’s next new chief of the defence staff, the country’s top military post.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper says Lawson, the current deputy commander of NORAD — the North American Aerospace Defense Command — will formally succeed Gen. Walt Natynczyk within weeks.

Lawson is an air force officer and one-time commander of the Royal Military College.

He graduated from the college in 1979 and also commanded an air squadron and Canadian Forces Base Trenton during his career.

He became deputy commander at NORAD in July 2011.

Natynczyk has held the chief’s job since July 2008.