QARGHA, Afghanistan – More than 200 officer candidates from various provinces throughout Afghanistan arrived at the Afghan National Army officer academy for its inaugural term Oct. 23, 2013.
Funded by the British government and supported by the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, the ANAOA will be staffed by advisers from the U.K. and supported by mentors from Norway, Denmark Australia and New Zealand. It will be Britain's only military presence in Afghanistan once combat troops leave next year.
"Officer training is a unique and transformative experience. Officers provide the bedrock of the ANA,” said British army Lt. Gen. John Lorimer, deputy commander, International Security Assistance Force.
The course is based on the officer candidate school course currently held at the Kabul Military Training Center. The mission of the ANAOA is to turn cadets into military leaders of the future, fully capable of leading ANA soldiers.
“We will show them how to conduct themselves, and show [the cadets] what is expected from an ANA officer,” said ANA Sgt. Maj. Nawid Agha, an ANAOA instructor.
Agha said he is happy to be doing his job creating future ANA leaders. He said the academy is important for the ANA and for Afghanistan.
“They're instructing them in all of the tasks we would have the senior noncommissioned officers at Sandhurst doing,” said British army Lt. Col. Graham Hyland, an adviser at the academy.
One of the cadets, Mohammed Navid, a former tailor from a province north of Afghanistan said he wanted to serve his country.
"As the number of coalition forces is reduced we will have to provide security for our country,” said Navid.
There are some elements of Sandhurst included in the syllabus, most notably the academic components, but the Afghan course is designed with the current ANA in mind. The military history syllabus the cadets will read includes analysis of Afghan tactics in previous wars against the British, as well as during the mujahedeen wars against the Russian army.
"I hope this academy will produce commanders ready to take their places as leaders of the Afghan army and take it forward as a thoroughly professional, proficient military organization," said Lorimer.
Over the past year the advisers have worked hard to design and prepare the course. Hyland said watching the new recruits arrive was a good moment.
"I couldn't help but grin the whole day," Hyland said. "It was really delightful to see them, cutting around and doing stuff, getting their kit issued, all those sorts of things. All those memories I have of Sandhurst, and now here we are at the officer's academy at Qargha. I was really proud."
This first group of cadets will emerge fully qualified as officers next September with two more groups joining next year. The first female selection process will also take place in 2014.
This work, New ANA officer academy will forge strong leaders, by SSG Richard Andrade, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.