For the first time ever, Canada appoints woman as top soldier

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada named a woman as the country's top soldier for the first time ever on Wednesday, continuing a push by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to appointment women to the most senior jobs.

Lieutenant-General Jennie Carignan, in charge of efforts to stamp out ingrained sexism and misconduct in the armed forces, will take over on July 18 as chief of the defense staff.

Carignan, originally a military engineer, has commanded troops in Afghanistan, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Iraq and Syria during her 35 years in the army.

"Over the course of her career, her exceptional leadership qualities, commitment to excellence, and dedication to service have been a tremendous asset to our Armed Forces," Trudeau said in a statement.

Carignan takes over at a time when Canada is under pressure from allies to ramp up its defense spending. The armed forces are struggling to meet recruitment goals and have been slow to replace outdated equipment.

Last November the head of the navy said the service was in "a critical state" and might not be able to carry out its basic duties in 2024.

Trudeau, an avowed feminist, took office in late 2015 and has pursued policies designed to boost gender equality.

In 2018, he appointed Brenda Lucki as the first female head of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. The last two governors general, the official representative of the British monarchy, have been women. Trudeau named them both.

(Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by David Holmes)