The British Army in Scotland is a major part of UK Defence – an often unseen and misunderstood organisation that allows communities and businesses to flourish both locally and internationally.
Think ‘Army’ and you might be forgiven for imagining the obvious but step a little deeper in understanding the British Army in Scotland and you will begin to have a grasp on a finely tuned and complex organisation that ensures your prosperity, freedoms and growth.
Like many major business organisations you will encounter diverse, highly motivated and professional people trained to deal with the global challenges of a complex world whilst also cementing an infrastructure requiring the skills and talents at the highest echelons of business. And women are well represented in the top ranks of the executive team across Scotland.
Prudent financial oversight within public purse constraints and human resource diligence allows the British Army in Scotland to exercise overview of:
- Thousands of personnel both regular and reserve in a range of specialist skills
- Thousands of acres of training areas and bases
- Engagement and interaction globally
All this requires special people – men and women dedicated not just to maintain but also raise the bars of professionalism in fields as diverse as personnel and Human Resources, research and development, logistics, finance, protocol, engagement and communications, law and governance, intelligence, analysis and much more. Let’s introduce you to just some of these women serving in the British Army in Scotland.
Brigadier Clare Philips
Brigadier Clare Phillips always wanted to be in the army and, after graduating from university, she was accepted into the RMA Sandhurst for officer training.
“When I was young, I suppose it was the uniform that appealed to me,” she said, “but as I got older, I was particularly attracted by the opportunity to do something different and that would make a difference.
“One of the great things about the military is that you meet so many inspirational people. The person who really set me on the right road was the Commanding Officer in my first unit, 1 Battalion REME in Germany.
“He was a fantastic officer and leader, and made it clear that his soldiers and officers mattered above all else. That approach that has stuck with me ever since.
“I’m currently working as the Deputy Military Secretary at the Army Personnel Centre in Glasgow, which provides career advice and arranges promotions and appointments for Army soldiers and officers.
“Being a Brigadier is a position of authority and influence, and it’s about being approachable and considerate too. You have to make tough decisions, and ultimately it’s about achieving a balance between power and authority with responsibility and accountability.”
In her 27-year career, Clare has deployed on three operational tours in Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan. “When I first joined, the army was still learning about the advantages of a more diverse workforce, but we are now brilliant in encouraging everyone to bring their unique qualities to the workplace.
“Whoever you are, wherever you come from, whatever part of society you represent, there’s a place for you, and the support to be as successful as you wish to be.
“If you’re thinking about joining, like a challenge, want to make a difference to the world, and enjoy being physically and mentally active, I would definitely say ‘go for it’!”
Katy Badham-Thornhill REME
“The early inspiration and influence on my career choices that led to me joining the British Army came from the Combined Cadet Force (CCF) at Cheltenham College and my father, who helped to set the foundations of my military career.
Having successfully been awarded a bursary and gaining financial support throughout my degree course in Civil Engineering at the University of Nottingham, and from attending East Midland University Officer Training Corps (EMUOTC), I was committed to attending the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. Although daunting at 19 years old, I was fortunate to be surrounded by like-minded people who have enabled me to pursue many of my ambitions, from serving on operations across the world to a wide variety of sports and outdoor pursuits.
Throughout my time in the British Army, I have enjoyed the wide range of opportunities available and constantly looked to develop myself so that I can support those who serve with me achieve the same fulfilment that I have enjoyed. I am currently the Commanding Officer of a University Officer Training Regiment (Aberdeen & Tayforth) and cover the Military Liaison Officer Grampian role.
I arrived in Aberdeen at the start of the COVID 19 Pandemic in March 2020, directly from overseas operations in West Africa (with the French Military) and was fortunate to be able to get involved in the Government response to the pandemic through various Military Aid to the Civil Authorities (MACA) tasks. These ranged from staff officers imbedded in various key departments: NHS Grampian, St Andrew’s House, Care for People (Local Resilience Partnership LRP Grampian) to bespoke MACAs to support various major incidents throughout the Grampian. MACA tasks included support to the recovery of the carriages from the Aug 2020 Stonehaven train derailment, Troops to support the LRP in their response to thousands of people without power, communications or heating following Storm Arwen, and various bespoke MACAs of troops supporting vaccination delivery, testing and heavy goods or ambulance drivers.”
Sarah Johnson MBE RLC
Sarah is Commanding Officer of 154 (Scottish) Transport Regiment which has bases across the Scottish central belt. “I lead an Army Reserve unit whose principal role is logistic transport and distribution – however, we have Chefs, Medics, Communication Specialists and HR Specialists all working within the Regiment all applying their specific skills allowing the team to function,” she added.
“I have had a thoroughly enjoyable and rewarding career which has been both extremely varied and challenging,” she said. “It has given me the privilege to serve on Operations and exercises both overseas and throughout the UK with the opportunity to lead soldiers at Troop, Squadron and now as the commanding officer.”
Emma Bruce R SIGNALS
Emma is about to take command of a Signal Regiment responsible for over 300 soldiers, which will re-role to deliver communications to an operational military Division. She is one of many Army Reserves, balancing a demanding career as a Programme Manager in Lloyds Banking Group with her military service, where her fascinating and fulfilling career began at University in Edinburgh. Change and adaptability as well as resilience and professionalism are all finely tuned in Emma’s personal arsenal, and she is enthused rather than daunted by the challenges ahead.
She explains, “The opportunity to command such skilled and professional soldiers is a great privilege, especially during a period of significant transformation where clear leadership, team work and agility will be key.”
Rachel Emmerson MBE RLC
Rachel is Commanding Officer of Glasgow & Strathclyde Universities Officer Training Corps where young people across all education fields are given not only a social network but enormous opportunity for self development before moving into their chosen career.
“One of the highlights of my career so far was my last job as the Army lead for Diversity and Inclusion.
“I love the Army for the opportunities it has given me, from job satisfaction to global travel, education (I have a Masters in Defence Studies from Kings College, completed full time at our Command and Staff College) to friendships. I have served for 23 years and they have flown by so I plan to continue for a good few more!”