Andover, the first woman to command Army training, succeeds her husband

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The first female officer to command No 1 Army Training Regiment took over the role – from her husband.

Lieutenant Colonel Lyndsey Kelly has taken up duty at the Army Training Center in Pirbright, Surrey, succeeding her husband, Lieutenant Colonel Shamus Kelly, to command the 165-man staff.

And as she takes up her new duties, Shamus will continue to work at Regimental Headquarters, also in Pirbright.

The couple, who live in Andover, have two children, Alex, seven, and William, four.

They both joined the army in 2001 before meeting nine years later during a training course, and getting married in 2013.

An Army spokesman said: ‘When Lieutenant Colonel Lyndsey Kelly becomes the Commanding Officer of 1st Army Training Regiment (ATR) at the Army Training Center at Pirbright, not only will she would become the first female officer to do so, but, quite uniquely, she would assume command from her husband, Lt. Col. Shamus Kelly OBE.

Lyndsey, 42, said: “I’ve been in the training environment before and enjoyed it so much that’s why I preferred to come back here.

“I love being able to shape and influence recruits, our next generation of our military, but I also love working with such motivated people.”

Shamus, 44, said: ‘The advice I would give Lyndsey is the advice everyone gave me before I took command, you have two and a half years to invest in our people, that’s take care of our people and make the most of the moment.

“When you have recruits, they are vulnerable adults, they are very impressionable, so it’s a big responsibility to make sure you protect them and take care of them.”

Lyndsey said it was too early to tell what changes she would make to the organization, but said onboarding was a priority for her.

She said: “From what I see it’s a really well oiled machine and I think the integration is working really well and that’s something I’ll be watching closely.

“I’m especially proud to be on this date, what I’d like to think is that when a male or female recruit starts on day one, they see there are no differences between men and women, it’s completely normal and it’s what they should expect to find throughout their careers.

“I’m particularly keen to ensure that this environment is healthy and reflects the broader military and broader society.”

Shamus added, “As soon as the rookies walk through that door, you don’t see it as a men’s section and a women’s section, they just see it as a team, men and women working together from the moment they come in the moment they come in. they leave.

“We have to be really confident that our people will always try to do the right thing at the right time, no matter what pressure they’re under, and the only way to make sure you have that confidence is to get them through training. based. process, if you see issues that signal unacceptable behavior, this is your chance to change that behavior or eliminate it.

“This is a very important screening process to ensure that the next generation of soldiers live, breathe and operate according to our standards.”

Working closely together, Lyndsey said: “I think we’re both confident that it wouldn’t cause friction, but we’d also be foolish to think that there will never be any issues that we don’t. we have no differences of opinion. .

“On the big stuff, our values ​​and our standards are completely aligned, so I think we’ll be fine, but for a place like Pirbright, which has such an incredible tempo, and adds covid to make it even more complex, there will be undoubtedly be times when there will be difficult decisions to be made.

“I think we’re going to have to be pretty strict not to bring problems home, we have two little boys, our focus when we walk through the front door should be on our two boys and we have to be pretty disciplined at that. topic.”

The Army spokesperson added: “When Lyndsey takes command of 1ATR, she will be responsible for developing civilians into basic trained soldiers, with up to 500+ recruits undergoing training at a time.

“These are young men and women, some of them straight out of school, and all of them with little or no experience of military life.

“The 14-week Basic Training Program teaches recruits the structure of the British Army, how to live and operate in the field as soldiers. It builds their physical and mental robustness through a progressive and challenging development program.

“But, more importantly, it focuses on developing their character and immersing them in the values ​​and standards of the British Army – essential to ensuring that our people always do what is right, even in the most difficult of circumstances. trying.”

Lyndsey said she would bring a fresh perspective to the role, not because of her gender but because of her personality.

She added: “I think I will definitely bring something different, not necessarily because of my gender but because we have different characters.

“Shamus is more direct and robust while I’m a bit more thoughtful and measured and take more time to make my decisions.”

She added that she thinks a female commander would be a boost for new female recruits.

And she said: ‘I think it’s a positive role model for female recruits to see a female commander, it normalizes for them at an early stage in their careers that it’s not about gender, it’s about the best person at the job. ”

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