First female officer to lead Division-level Command of the British Army

Major General Sharon Nesmith has become the first female officer to command at the 2 Star level in the British Army, as she takes up the role of General Officer Commanding (GOC) the Army Recruiting and Initial Training Command (ARITC).

The announcement was made today, 5 Jan 21. Maj Gen 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.” As GOC of ARITC, Maj Gen Nesmith 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 she 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.


Major General Sharon Nesmith was commissioned into the Royal Corps of Signals in 1992. She spent much of her early years at Regimental Duty in Germany, serving in the Electronic Warfare Regiment and 1st (United Kingdom) Armoured Division Headquarters and Signal Regiment, during which time she completed 3 tours in the Balkans. Major General Nesmith commanded 1st Mechanised Brigade Headquarters and Signal Squadron (215), over the period of the Brigade conversion to Bowman and deployment on Op TELIC10.  She later commanded 22nd Signal Regiment as the Regiment re-roled to provide  command support to Headquarters ARRC, and led on the introduction of FALCON into Service. She also commanded MOD Stafford.

Following the Advanced Command and Staff Course (2001/03), Major General Nesmith’s black bag appointment was within the Directorate of Capability, Resources and Scrutiny in the Ministry of Defence, where she provided affordability advice to senior officers and Ministers at key investment decisions for equipment programmes. She subsequently served as SO1 Capability in Army Resources and Plans. On promotion to Colonel she served as the Assistant Director Capability Plans, leading on the delegation of capability development to the Army Headquarters in support of Director General Capability, and attended the Higher Command and Staff Course (2014).

Major General Nesmith commanded the 1st (United Kingdom) Signal Brigade from August 2014 to July 2016, supporting Headquarters ARRC and the UK JTFHQs. She was then Head of Manning (Army), before being appointed Director Personnel in March 2019. She took up the post General Officer Commanding (GOC) the Army’s Recruiting and Initial Training Command (ARITC) on 7 January 2021, becoming the first female officer to lead a Division-level Command.