U.K. Appoints First Woman as Two-Star Air Force Vice-Marshal

The Royal Air Force appointed its first ever woman to the position of Air Vice-Marshal, entitling her to wear two stars on her uniform as the U.K. military said it would encourage women to aim for high-ranking careers.
Elaine West, 51, who has had a 34-year career in the force, has been appointed director of projects and program delivery at the Defence Infrastructure Organisation, which oversees the military’s estates. Her new job will involve delivering infrastructure projects to support training, improving defense capability and overseeing British troops returning from Germany.
“We need the best and the brightest talent in senior positions as we transform defense over the next few years,” Defence Secretary Philip Hammond said in an e-mail. “I am pleased that we are demonstrating in defense that there are no ’glass ceilings’ for female officers who have the necessary abilities to rise to the senior ranks.”
Defense budget cuts mean the U.K. is scaling back its regular military and relying on doubling the number of reservists to 30,000 by 2020. British troops have been stationed in Germany since the end of World War II, with numbers peaking at 50,000 at the height of the Cold War. That number dropped to 20,000 in the early 1990s after German reunification. Their return is designed to save the U.K. 240 million pounds ($374 million) a year.

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