Army major in Afghanistan was Mayfield student

Major Claire Brown by Sgt Dan Bardsley RLC
Major Claire Brown by Sgt Dan Bardsley RLC

Major Claire Brown, 35, is far away from the green pastures of Mayfield.

Major Brown, a former student of St Leonards-Mayfield School, is an officer in the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME.)

Claire has now started a tour in Afghanistan working as a female mentor at the Afghan National Army Officer Academy (ANAOA), Kabul.

She is part way through a nine-month tour in Kabul working as a female Company Commander’s mentor in the newly opened ANAOA, Qarga, Western Kabul. She said: “My role is to make sure that the Officer Academy is ready and able to accept its first platoon of women in June 2014 ensuring that it is fully equipped and prepared for the cadets.”

Claire was born in Aldershot and moved around during her childhood as her father, Lt Col Christopher Brown REME, was in the Army. She originally planned to pursue a career in medicine but after two years decided it wasn’t what she wanted to do and chose to join the Army instead. She explained: “I wanted a lifestyle and a job that didn’t have me stapled to a desk all day long. I wanted a job where I could work with people with similar motivations.”

Claire has completed tours in Bosnia, Iraq and Ireland and this is her third Herrick tour and her second in the country’s capital, Kabul.

She speaks Dari fluently, having spent 15 months learning it prior to her last deployment, Op Herrick 16 in 2012. Afghans generally tend to speak more Pashto inHelmand and Claire finds it easier to understand locals in Kabul who speak mainly Dari.

She commented: “I enjoy meeting people and having conversations with them. It’s so rewarding to understand what they are saying and being able to keep the conversation going.”

She’s helping find and appoint new female staff to the Officer Academy and throughout the process she is enjoying finding out about their lives in the military and making comparisons with them.

She went on: “It’s great seeing the Afghans all fired up and wanting this to be a success.”

Outside of her military role Claire enjoys playing hockey for the REME. She has played in South Africa, Barbados and is off to Australia next year. She also skis and concentrates mainly on instructing in Germany and Austria.

She added: “I am slightly disappointed they don’t ski in Kabul. They do ski in Bamiyan, a province in the centre of Afghanistan, but I don’t think I will have the time to get there during this tour.”