ONE of Ballarat's greatest success stories is about to become a little more successful.
Brigadier Simone Wilkie, one of the most senior women in the history of the ADF, will soon be promoted to Major General and become the commanding officer of the Australian Defence Force College.
Having just returned from Afghanistan, Brigadier Wilkie served as National Commander of troops in Afghanistan and was in charge of all 1500 Australian personnel serving with ADF units and embedded with international forces in the combat zone.
Speaking with The Courier this week as part of ANZAC Day commemorations, Brigadier Wilkie said she has been chief of staff at Army Headquarters since her return from Afghanistan in August last year.
"I won't be going back (to Afghanistan)," she said.
"I am looking forward to taking up a position as commanding officer of the Australian Defence Force College."
Brigadier Wilkie, a former Ballarat Grammar student and niece of current City of Ballarat mayor John Burt, said soldiers would remain in some parts of Afghanistan for at least a year.
"The last major contingent (of troops) is in the process of returning but we will still have soldiers in places like Kabul," she said.
"They will be there until 2014."
Brigadier Wilkie would not be drawn on whether or not all troops should be brought home immediately.
"As long as the government feels we've got a job to do, we'll stay there and do it," she said.
Brigadier Wilkie was commissioned into the Royal Australian Corps of Signals in 1983 and has worked with young officer cadets at the Royal Military College, Duntroon and as the Assistant Chief of Staff to multi-national commander General David Petreaus during the surge in Iraq in 2007.
During her speech at the Ballarat ANZAC Day service, Brigadier Wilkie told the large crowd to remember those who had made the ultimate sacrifice, but also the thousands of Australian servicemen and women currently stationed overseas.