The British Army has appointed its first female head of a division-level command.
Major General Sharon Nesmith has become the first woman to lead a division-level command in the British Army.
Major General Nesmith, who joined the Army in 1992, is taking leadership of the division-level organisation responsible for the recruitment and subsequent training of soldiers and officers throughout the Army.
She said: “I am delighted to be taking command of the Army’s recruitment and training. I am proud to be leading the Command responsible for developing excellence in our soldiers and officers.”
She will be responsible for recruiting and training the right quantity, quality and composition of Regular and Reserve officers and soldiers to the British Army. To do this she will oversee a mixed military, civilian and contractor workforce of more than 6,000 people spread over approximately 130 locations in the UK and overseas. Each year she will manage a budget of over £200m and the training of over 35,000 students over 280 courses.
As the second ever female Major General and the only currently serving Regular female Major General, Major General Nesmith has worked her way up through a number of appointments, from commanding 1st Mechanised Brigade HQ and Signal Squadron (215) deploying on Op Telic 10, through to commanding the 1st UK Signal Brigade.
Following promotion to Major General in March 2019, she was appointed Director Personnel (Army), where she oversaw the personnel strategy and policy required to support the workforce, including support to mental and physical health and wellbeing, enabling inclusive culture across the Army, and improving behaviours across the whole force.
Over her career, Major General Nesmith started her career in the Royal Corps of Signals and completed three tours in the Balkans in the early part of her career. More recently, she commanded the 1st (United Kingdom) Signal Brigade from August 2014 to July 2016 and served as Head of Manning (Army) before being appointed Director Personnel in March 2019. She takes up the post General Officer Commanding (GOC) the Army’s Recruiting and Initial Training Command on 7th January.
Her appointment was followed less than a week later by the election of a woman to the post of general secretary of Unison, the UK’s biggest trade union. Christina McAnea won 47.7% of the vote and becomes the first woman to lead Unison, which represents public sector workers and has 1.3m members.