Slovenia appoints NATO’s only female armed forces chief of staff

Slovenia appointed Major General Alenka Ermenc as chief of staff, becoming the only NATO country whose armed forces are headed by a woman.

Ermenc was promoted to major general on November 23, and will on Wednesday, November 28 replace outgoing Major General Alan Geder, who has been in the top post since February.

“Major General Ermenc’s appointment was proposed based on her experience as a commander of Slovenian army units, for her contribution for establishing a professional army force and her civil and military education,” the government said in a release.

The defense ministry said she is first woman appointed as chief of staff of the armed forces not only in Slovenia but also in NATO, Slovenian news agency STA reported.

Promoted to brigadier in 2011, Ermenc has been serving as deputy chief of the general staff of the Slovenian armed forces since March, then the highest military position held by a woman in NATO.

Ermenc, 55, graduated from the Royal College of Defence Studies in London and went on to complete a Master’s degree in International Studies at London’s King’s College University.

She started her military career as a member of the Territorial Forces that played a key role in winning Slovenia’s independence from Yugoslavia in 1991.

President Borut Pahor, Slovenia’s commander-in-chief, welcomed Ermenc’s appointment and said he expected her to start improving the army’s current poor state, blamed largely on underfunding.

A Slovenian army brigade earlier this year failed NATO’s combat readiness test being assessed as “not combat ready.” The note was improved after additional training and new tests were carried out.

With reporting from AFP

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