Captain (CAPT) Frankie Thompson has been recognised for her mentor role with the Afghan National Officer Academy in 2019 with a New Zealand Defence Force Commendation.
Originally from Timaru, CAPT Thompson joined the New Zealand Army in 2011 and has a Civil Engineering Degree with Honours through the Australian Defence Force Academy.
Her citation said soon after arriving in her role she identified that female integration within the Officer Academy had stalled.
“She took the initiative by assuming the role for lead Gender advisor for the mission, taking responsibility for the planning and implementation of mentoring relating to gender integration within the Officer Academy,” the citation read.
CAPT Thompson embraced the additional workload to become a key driver for the gender integration within the Academy.
“She overcame significant cultural barriers to quickly build strong rapport with both male and female Afghans within the Kandak (battalion), which in turn enabled highly effective mentoring.”
Her exemplary performance in the role was such that the Chief Mentor, a Brigadier from the British Army, requested her tour in Afghanistan be extended due to the positive impact she was having.
She said she was honoured to receive the commendation and the award is testament to how fulfilling her role was.
“Receiving the commendation has brought back a lot of happy memories from my time over in Afghanistan, and made me feel a great sense of pride with the opportunities that I had to work with some amazing men and women.
“I felt that I truly had a sense of purpose, and was able to shape and influence certain aspects of training within the Academy to enhance the opportunities for the young men and women embarking on their military careers as officers within the Afghan National Army,” said CAPT Thompson.
CAPT Thompson said she was highly passionate about both the development field and gender equality, so working with the NATO Gender Advisor department was a highlight.
“One of the many highlights was the opportunity to coordinate a successful visit from the Afghan Ministry of Defence Gender and Human Rights Director.
“This visit was a first for the Academy, and I felt the introduction and connections that this successfully established amongst the key personalities was important for the progression of female integration within the Academy,” she said.
She said that the opportunity to work alongside Afghans was incredibly rewarding.
“As a mentor within the Academy, I felt that the learning of both my mentees and myself was mutual. They taught me so much and it was such an awe-inspiring and humbling nine months.
“The Army has given me many opportunities thus far, although last year has been a highlight with the alignment of both my personal and professional interests,” said CAPT Thompson.
CAPT Thompson is Second in Command 3rd Field Squadron, 2nd Engineer Regiment, based at Burnham Military Camp and is currently studying a Masters in International Development through Massey University and hopes to specialise in Gender, Peace and Security.