Amanda first army female commander

Lieutenant-colonel Amanda Brosnan, of Dunedin, is the first woman in New Zealand to be appointed commanding officer of a reserve infantry battalion, and is excited about leading the recently amalgamated South Island reserve force 2/4 RNZIR. Photo by Gerard O'Brien.
Lieutenant-colonel Amanda Brosnan, of Dunedin, is the first woman in New Zealand to be appointed commanding officer of a reserve infantry battalion, and is excited about leading the recently amalgamated South Island reserve force 2/4 RNZIR. Photo by Gerard O'Brien.
A Dunedin woman is New Zealand's first female commanding officer of a reserve infantry battalion.

Lieutenant-colonel Amanda Brosnan (48) was officially appointed Commanding Officer of 2/4 RNZIR (Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment) during a charter parade in Christchurch last week.

She will remain based in Dunedin, but regularly travel to the Burnham Military Camp near Christchurch to lead the recently amalgamated South Island reserve force.

Lt-col Brosnan said it was exciting to set a precedent for other women in the army, which like many other organisations sometimes struggled to recruit and retain high-ranking female staff.

Challenges in her role included uniting the 280-odd reserves, who until recently were divided as members of rival battalions, she said.

''Both former units were very strong in their individual cultures, and naturally competed to be the best battalion in the South Island. They've been amalgamated for a year now, and although a lot of work has been done to develop the new entity there is still work to do.''

The battalion has headquarters at Burnham and sub-units in Invercargill, Dunedin, Timaru, Christchurch, Nelson and Greymouth.

Lt-col Brosnan said her main objective was to ensure reserves were trained appropriately and ready for deployment, either overseas or to replace regular soldiers deployed overseas.

It was important for reserves to have solid support from communities and employers, she said.

''It takes a lot of commitment to be a reserve because you're giving up your free time, your leisure time, to serve. Part of my role is to make sure they get the opportunities and rewards that come from training.''

Lt-col Brosnan grew up in Dunedin and went to Moreau College and the University of Otago.

She joined the Royal New Zealand Army in January 1990 and from December that year until September 2007 served as a regular force officer, first in the Royal New Zealand Signals then in the New Zealand Intelligence Corps.

She attended the Military College of Science in the United Kingdom in 2002 and 2003, where she trained as an operations analyst, before working in research and experimentation of future army concepts and doctrine.

She retired from the regular force in September 2007 and moved back to Dunedin in April 2008.

In September she returned from a six-month deployment in Afghanistan, where she was stationed in Kabul as a military adviser for the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan.

Her task was to help civilian mission staff, from Afghanistan and around the world, to understand military operations there.

Lt-col Brosnan is studying law at Otago and has five children with her husband Godfrey, a former soldier.

- rosie.manins@odt.co.nz

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