Suraya Marshall has become the first woman to command one of the RAF’s two ‘Operational’ Groups.
Air Commodore Marshall, following her promotion to Air Vice-Marshal, was appointed to be the new Air Officer Commanding of the RAF’s Number 2 Group. Prior to her promotion and new appointment, she has most recently been the Commandant of RAF College Cranwell.
She will be the first woman with an aircrew background to achieve command of a Group that also includes operational flying squadrons.
Air Commodore Marshall will be commanding the RAF Squadrons that operate the Voyager, Globemaster C-17, Hercules C-130 and Atlas A 400M transport aircraft, as well as the RAF Regiment and RAF Police amongst other force elements.
The role of the Number 2 Group is to generate, sustain and, when directed, command forces for current operations and develop forces for future Air Mobility, Force Protection, Battlespace Management and the Support Force.
Air Commodore Marshall said: “It is an honour to be selected for this key command appointment. It will be a privilege to lead the men and women of No. 2 Group, delivering air and space capabilities for UK military operations around the world.
“I am particularly proud to be the first woman in such a role, which shows that the RAF is a place of opportunity where people from all backgrounds can progress based on merit.
“Coming from a mixed-race background with no family connections to the military, I first became aware of the RAF as a potential career while I was at university.
“When I joined, the RAF had only just started to allow women to fly in operational roles, so I never imagined I would progress to such a senior position. I have had so many opportunities during my career, which I have found to be hugely rewarding and enjoyable.”
Air Commodore Marshall joined the RAF as a navigator in 1994 and flew for three tours as a Tornado F3 navigator.
During her flying career, she became the first woman to pass the prestigious RAF Qualified Weapons Instructor Course for the Tornado F3 in 2000. She also held several command appointments including command of Number 92(R) Squadron and Number 55(R) Squadron.
Air Commodore Marshall has held numerous Staff Officer roles including being the Director of Coalition Air Operations in the Middle East and Afghanistan during 2019, and staff tours at the MOD.