New commander committed to expanding brigade

Department of Defence

Whether it’s being inspired by her family’s history of military service, or balancing her own service with the demands of two young children, family means everything to Brigadier Amanda Williamson.

That’s why the new Commander of Perth’s 13th Brigade wants her people to serve in a way that ensures mission success while enabling them to tend to the other important things in their lives.

“Being a hybrid brigade means we have to do things a little differently while never losing sight of our mission,” Brigadier Williamson said.

“This means we need to create a brigade environment where our people are empowered through technology to serve from alternate work locations and not be tethered to the historical norm of parading every Tuesday night.

“My partner and I have an effective co-parenting routine, which allows us to both contribute to our careers. I know so many in the brigade will relate to this, but what it often looks like in reality is that I’m going from school drop-offs to command syncs, for example.”

Brigadier Williamson took over from Brigadier Brett Chaloner in December and she’s keen to ensure the units in the west can continue to be their very best after three years of unprecedented transformation.

“This transformation journey has positioned us perfectly to be able to pivot and meet the critical requirements set out in the Defence Strategic Review,” Brigadier Williamson said.

One of her first priorities was to visit the members of 13th Brigade deployed to Rifle Company Butterworth in Malaysia as part of rotation 142.

During the visit in early February, she used her skills as a trained linguist to thank the Malaysian soldiers in their national language for their hospitality and for offering opportunities in jungle and urban warfighting.

Like many in uniform, Brigadier Williamson’s connection to service started long before she was born. Her grandmother joined the Royal Navy at just 16, which led her to meeting and marrying an Australian pilot flying in the Dam Buster squadron – Brigadier Williamson’s grandfather.

Her father was conscripted under National Service and served in Vietnam, all of which inspired her to join the Army Cadets in Western Australia.

“Knowing what my ancestors did when duty called for them meant I always had a longing for the uniform, and so cadets felt like a natural first step for me,” Brigadier Williamson said.

“It may surprise people to learn that more than 30 per cent of senior officers had exposure to the Army Cadets, so I’d encourage any kid to give it a go.”

But there’s no dwelling on the past for the new boss out west as she looks to implement some swift changes to life around Irwin Barracks by leveraging technology to improve life in the brigade and drive recruitment.

“My number one priority is to grow the brigade, and to do this I will focus on improving amenities for our soldiers,” she said.

“There has been an initial burst of enthusiasm and excitement and I’d love to harness that to reinvigorate the mess facilities, the swimming pool and create dedicated family spaces.”

With an interest in artificial intelligence and automation, Brigadier Williamson is keen to explore technology avenues to enhance the efficiency of day-to-day tasks so “our people are free to focus on strategy and planning”.

“For me, it’s critical that we give our people a place to which they want to come and work, while also giving them ample options to serve from anywhere,” she said.

“This will ensure 13th Brigade maintains its position as an attractive and contemporary workforce in the wonderful state of Western Australia.”

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