Australia awards new ‘Kokoda Sword’ to Afghan Army soldier
6 March 2018
The inaugural Australian ‘Kokoda Sword of Honour’ was presented to the best performing graduate of the Afghan National Army Sergeant Major Academy in Kabul on 12 February.
The Australian-donated sword was awarded during the graduation ceremony of the first class to graduate under Australian mentorship.
Australian Ambassador to Afghanistan, Her Excellency Ms Nicola Gordon-Smith, presented the sword and said it symbolised strength and courage in the face of adversity, like that seen during Australia’s Kokoda Track campaign in World War Two.
“Facing an enemy superior in numbers, Australia’s troops engaged in constant fighting, in torrential rain, mud, and disease, in Papua New Guinea’s mountain jungles,” she said.
“The jungles of the Kokoda Track are vastly different to the terrain of Afghanistan, but the tenacity, courage, and leadership demonstrated by Australian forces 76 years ago is seen everyday in the courageous members of the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces.
“You are carrying on the finest tradition of leadership and are an exemplar to the soldiers you lead,” added Ambassador Gordon-Smith.
Recipient of the sword, Army Master Sergeant Murtaza Arabzada, graduated top of his class of 44 students, excelling in fields such as leadership, tactics and force management. Importantly, the course included students drawn from across the Afghan Security institutions.
Lieutenant Colonel Daniel Wake, Commander of Australia’s Sergeant Major Advisory Team, said the award would drive excellence on future courses.
“The sword encourages future students to strive to perform at their best and assimilate the knowledge and skills being taught,” he said.
Master Sergeant Arabzada said he was extremely proud to receive Australia’s Kokoda Sword.
“It is a great honour to receive such a prize and graduate from the Academy,” he said.
The ceremony was attended by a number of senior members of the Afghan security forces and coalition mentors.
“It was significant to see representatives of the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces in attendance,” added Lieutenant Colonel Wake.
“Incorporating students from the Ministry of Interior into the course helps build the relationship and coordination between the Afghan National Army and Afghan National Police, which is vital for their joint operations,” he said.
A team of Australian Defence Force advisors have been working at the Academy since December to support the Afghan National Army develop their senior non-commissioned officers.