A Bendigo Army officer has joined others blazing a trail for women in the Australian Defence Force and on operations.
Natasha Ludwig is one of a handful of women serving or having served in senior roles while on operations in the Middle East.
The former Bendigo Senior Secondary College student is an Army Lieutenant Colonel and Commanding Officer of Force Support Unit Eight (FSU-8). The Unit, comprising approximately 300 personnel from Army, Navy and Air Force from across Australia, has been deployed to Tarin Kot, Kabul and Kandahar in Afghanistan and Al Minhad Air Base in Dubai. Their role is to provide logistic and administrative support. This includes transportation, distribution of stores and equipment, pay and postal, specialised health care and repatriation of stores.
36-year-old Natasha says while she is the first female commander of an FSU, she is not the first female commanding officer in the Middle East Area of Operation (MEAO).
“That was Colonel Rosemary Vivian who led Force Communication Unit 1 and deployed to the Middle East in September 2008,” Natasha said.
“A number of women hold command positions in the MEAO including the current Commanding Officers of Multi National Base Command - Tarin Kot and the Combat Support Unit.” She said
“The next Commanding Officer of the Force Communications Unit will be a woman and I expect to hand my Command over to another women.” she added.
Natasha says it is an exciting time for FSU-8.
“We have significant responsibilities in enabling our redeployment from Tarin Kot,” she said.
Natasha graduated from Bendigo Senior Secondary College in 1992 and enlisted in the Army the following year as an officer cadet at the Australian Defence Force Academy where she completed a Bachelor of Art degree in 1995.
The following year she graduated from the Royal Military College Duntroon and joined the Royal Australian Corps of Transport. She has served in various posts and in 2010 attended the Australian Staff College. Prior to assuming her command in the MEAO, Natasha served at Headquarters Joint Operations Command in Canberra.
Natasha is also fortunate to be able to reminisce about home with two Bendigonians under her command in former St Killans Primary School student, Lieutenant Elodie Wilson and former St Joseph’s Primary School student, Lieutenant Blair Krieger.
Natasha is married to Lieutenant Colonel Markus Ludwig. Markus is Staff Officer Operations at Headquarters 1 Division at Gallipoli Barracks in Brisbane. He now has the role of a working dad taking care of their two young children while his wife is on deployment for next eight months.
“It’s hard being away from home, but I keep in regular contact with my husband and children,” Natasha said.
“My immediate and extended family in Bendigo also lend great support,” she concluded.