Elaine West

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Elaine West
111111-F-FW394-055 Air Commodore Elaine West, Air Officer Assistant Chief of Staff and Air Officer Commanding Directly Administered Units, Headquarters Air Command speaks during a ceremony.jpg
Elaine West (then Air Commodore) in Cambridge, England (2011)
Birth name Margaret Elaine Brindle
Allegiance United Kingdom
Service/branch Royal Air Force
Years of service 1978 – present
Rank Air Vice-Marshal
Awards Commander of the Order of the British Empire

Air Vice-Marshal Margaret Elaine West, CBE (née Brindle; born 1961 or 1962) is a senior Royal Air Force officer. She was the first woman to hold a non-honorary air vice-marshal or equivalent rank in the British Armed Forces since the Second World War, and the first to achieve that rank in the regular forces.

Early life[edit]

West was born in 1961 or 1962.[1][2] She was brought up in the Lake District.[3]

Military career[edit]

West joined the Women's Royal Air Force as an aircraftwoman in 1978 at the age of 17.[4] She ended her service in the other ranks as a senior aircraftwoman. She was commissioned on 25 February 1982 in the rank of pilot officer with seniority from 8 December 1980.[1] She was promoted to flying officer on 8 December 1982.[5] On 21 March 1983, she transferred from the General Duties (Ground) Branch to the Administrative Branch of the RAF.[6] She was promoted to flight lieutenant on 8 December 1986.[7] On 26 October 1990, she transferred from a Short Service Commission to a Permanent Commission.[8] As a part of the half-yearly promotions, she was promoted to squadron leader on 1 January 1991,[9] to wing commander on 1 January 1997,[10] and to group captain on 1 July 2003.[11]

She was promoted to air commodore on 1 July 2008.[12] She served as Head of the Defence Estates' Operations Housing, thereby being in charge of the renovation of service accommodation.[13] With her promotion to air vice-marshal on 1 August 2013,[14] she became the highest ranking female in the British Armed Forces and the first regular to hold a two-star rank.[4][15] She has been appointed Director of Projects and Programme Delivery at the Defence Infrastructure Organisation.[14][16] West was replaced by Tony Gosling in 2016.[17]

Personal life[edit]

West married an RAF Tornado navigator. He has since retired. Together they have one son.[2]

Honours and decorations[edit]

Order of the British Empire (Military) Ribbon.png Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal ribbon.png QEII Diamond Jubilee Medal ribbon.png

In the 2013 New Year Honours, West was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE).[18] She is a recipient of the Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal and the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal.


  1. ^ a b "No. 48947". The London Gazette (Supplement). 8 April 1982. p. 4968. 
  2. ^ a b "Woman RAF officer joins top military brass". BBC News. 23 August 2013. Retrieved 23 August 2013. 
  3. ^ Richard, Smith (23 August 2013). "Elaine West becomes highest ranked female in British armed forces ever". Daily Mirror. Retrieved 23 August 2013. 
  4. ^ a b "Page 3 Profile: Elaine West, Air Vice-Marshal". The i. 23 August 2013. Retrieved 23 August 2013. 
  5. ^ "No. 49237". The London Gazette (Supplement). 17 January 1983. p. 764. 
  6. ^ "No. 49336". The London Gazette (Supplement). 29 April 1983. p. 5974. 
  7. ^ "No. 50799". The London Gazette (Supplement). 12 January 1987. p. 457. 
  8. ^ "No. 52427". The London Gazette (Supplement). 21 January 1991. p. 1063. 
  9. ^ "No. 52414". The London Gazette (Supplement). 7 January 1991. pp. 303–305. 
  10. ^ "No. 54642". The London Gazette (Supplement). 6 January 1997. pp. 217–219. 
  11. ^ "No. 56992". The London Gazette (Supplement). 8 July 2003. p. 8469. 
  12. ^ "No. 58752". The London Gazette (Supplement). 1 July 2008. p. 9841. 
  13. ^ "Halton RAF families get upgraded homes". GOV.UK. 17 June 2010. Retrieved 23 August 2013. 
  14. ^ a b "No. 60643". The London Gazette (Supplement). 1 October 2013. p. 19286. 
  15. ^ "Officer flies up ranks to make history". The Times. 23 August 2013. Retrieved 23 August 2013. 
  16. ^ "Armed forces' first female two-star officer appointed". 22 August 2013. ITV. Retrieved 23 August 2013. 
  17. ^ "About us". 15 June 2016. DIO. Retrieved 15 June 2016. 
  18. ^ "No. 60367". The London Gazette (Supplement). 29 December 2012. p. 6.