Meet the first woman in charge of a brigade in the British army

Marching toward success?

Affirmative. Brigadier Sharon Nesmith has become the first woman to be put in command of an operational brigade. She is now in charge of some 5,000 frontline soldiers in the 1st Signal Brigade, which provides communications support to military operations. It is the most powerful position to be taken by a woman in the British Army.

When did this happen?

After serving in the Army for over 20 years, Nesmith was promoted to commander in August last year but it has only just come to light.

Who made the announcement?

The Defence Secretary himself. Speaking earlier this week, Michael Fallon said: "This year alone 46,456 soldiers have been deployed on commitments in 40 countries. Yet we cannot expect the threats we face to diminish. That means we must work smarter…Careers must be determined by ability. Again we're seeing progress."

What did he say of Brigadier Nesmith's landmark appointment?

Mr Fallon implied that it was not before time. "The proportion of women in the Army is just nine per cent, while the proportion of ethnic minorities 10.2 per cent… we still have some way to go."

What did her ascension through the ranks look like?

Brig Nesmith, who is in her mid-forties and married with two children, joined the Royal Corps of Signals in 1992. During the early part of her career she completed three tours in the Balkans. In 2010 she commanded 215 Signal Squadron while on Operation Telic 10 in Iraq. She later commanded 22nd Signal Regiment and afterwards was promoted to Colonel.

Where is she based now?

The 1st Signal Brigade is based in Gloucester, preparing and generating forces which are held at high states of readiness to support current and future operations all over the world.

And when she's off-duty?

"Brig Nesmith has a love of all things outdoors: marathon and fell running in the Lake District, mountain biking and skiing," according to an Army biography.

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