The married mother of one has spent 23 years in the Army, having joined after spending six years in private practice with a legal firm.
She said: “I was working in private practice, specialising in land and property law, but reached a point where I felt the need to seek a greater challenge.”
She went on: “I only joined on the basis of four years. I certainly didn’t join to make major general and I’m not even sure I joined to make major.”
Her new job will see her in charge of legal advice to commanders on matters of discipline, employment law and administrative law.
Brig Ridge grew up in the West Country and Cheshire before reading history at Bangor and then doing a law conversion course.
She is married to a Lieutenant Colonel in the Army and has an adolescent son.
She said: “I am exceptionally lucky that my husband, also a serving officer, has been hugely supportive of my work and takes on much of the responsibility of managing family and home life, while also juggling his own career.
“There have been occasions when he has been posted away, we have done long periods of weekend commuting and he has done tours in the Balkans and Afghanistan. But largely it has worked so well because he has been onside.”
Gen Sir Nick Carter, Chief of the General Staff, said: “I am very pleased for Sue; she is a talented and committed officer who is widely respected throughout the Army.”
Women have already been promoted into equivalently senior ranks elsewhere in the Armed Forces.
Two years ago, Elaine West was promoted to what was then the highest rank ever held by a woman in the British military, when she was made an RAF Air Vice-Marshal.
Brig Ridge’s promotion comes as the Army is deciding whether to open up combat roles on the front line to women soldiers for the first time.
Women are currently banned from ground combat units “where the primary role is to close with and kill the enemy”. The rule means women are barred from infantry battalions, armoured regiments and the Royal Marines.
Michael Fallon, the defence secretary, has said he hopes the ban will be relaxed as early as next year. A six month review overseen by the head of the Army is said to have removed concerns inside the Ministry of Defence that the historic change would disrupt the effectiveness or morale of combat units.
Commanders have now commissioned more research into the physiological strains placed on women in combat jobs.
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