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New leader for Army Reserves

Colonel Amanda Jane Brosnan, who is a Crown prosecutor in civilian life, is the newly appointed Assistant Chief of Army (Reserves).

08 April, 2022

COL Brosnan left the Regular Force in 2007 and transferred to the Reserve Force. She joined what was then 4 O South (2/4 RNZIR).

“The executive officer at the time said that they were short of OCs and asked if I wanted to command B Coy. I said yes and have not looked back. After years of staff work, getting back into a unit reminded me why I joined the Army in the first place. Whereas in the RF I never felt I had a unit I could call home, in the Army Reserve I found my home in 2/4 RNZIR.

“I have been in the Army Reserve now for almost as long as I was in the RF and I have had a varied and satisfying reserve career so far. I have had more opportunities for command and deployment in the Army Reserve than I had in the RF. I even had the privilege and pleasure of commanding the NZDF contingent that travelled to Belgium in 2017 for the centenary of the Battle of Messines.”

A few years after she left the Regular Force she returned to university and completed an LLB (Hons). Colonel Brosnan also has a MA (Hons) in Strategic Studies, MSc in Operational Analysis, BA (Hons) in Economics, and a BA (Hons) in German.

One of the challenges she sees facing Reservist battalions is reaching a trained state that is as high as possible given the constraint of the comparatively little time reservists have available to attend training.

It means that training has to be well designed to achieve as many training objectives as possible. ResF courses and field exercises are usually relatively concentrated. We have to try to pack a lot in.

COL Brosnan says integrated units face challenges in rebuilding trade capability in their ResF components.

“A lot of good work has been done by the corps to develop trade models for ResF trades and work has started on developing trade courses to allow reservists to progress in their trade. In January 2022 infantry and medical corps training courses were run after the ResF basic training. Later in 2022 the first ResF engineer corps training course will be run and in 2023 other corps will deliver their first ResF corps training courses. From there, further trade courses will be developed and delivered.

“The aim is that the ResF soldiers who marched out of TAD in December 2021 will be the first cohort to step through a trade progression supported by ResF individual training. The junior officers who graduated from the TFCC on 26 February 2022 may have a little longer to wait for officer corps progression courses, but momentum is being generated and we will get there.”

Reservists during recent combat training in the Rangataua forest, Tongariro National Park area.

She says one new challenge for the Reserve infantry battalions in particular will be developing outputs that were not previously required, namely support company outputs.

“There will be work required to develop and then to maintain ResF individual training in this area. However, the new capability offers the ResF infantry battalions even more opportunities to train and integrate with their RF counterparts.”

The diversity of the Army Reserve, says COL Brosnan, is a definite strength.

People from all walks of life serve in the Army Reserve – ab initio reservists, ex-RF personnel, women, men, and people of various ethnic backgrounds. Added to those basic attributes, reservists work in all manner of civilian occupations, from police to teachers, doctors to carpenters, business managers to policy analysts and, my favourite, I’ve even come across a vascular stenographer.

The passion reservists have for service is great. Reservists often make sacrifices to serve. Most have busy fulltime civilian jobs and family commitments, but they are still willing to give up evenings and weekends to serve. Any time the call goes out for reservists to fill roles, be it in a civil defence emergency or in a MIQ, there will always be a positive response.

"At any one time about ten percent of the Ready Reserve is serving on a STRFE, quietly contributing to Army outputs.”

Universities have been a significant source of ResF recruits for some time now and the timing of ResF basic training has usually been over the summer to suit the long summer break of tertiary institutions. For this reason a comparatively large proportion of reservists have university qualifications.

But summer basic training does not necessarily suit everyone who is interested in joining the Army as a reservist, says COL Brosnan.

“For example, some businesses experience their peak times over the summer, so applicants who would otherwise join may be put off by not being able to attend a summer basic. For that reason, the possibility of creating modular basic training, whereby ResF and RF recruits train together in the initial phase, is being explored. This would provide an opportunity to complete basic training at other times of the year and it would encourage integration between both components of the Army, the RF and the ResF.”