Boost for Afghan National Army Leadership
10 March 2016
The fighting capability of the Afghan National Army has been bolstered by the addition of 275 junior officers, who make up the latest graduating class at the Afghan National Army Officer Academy (ANAOA) in Qargha, west of Kabul.
The event marked the fifth graduation since the academy's inaugural term commenced in October 2013, with the total number of graduates now exceeding 1,300.
Members of the Australian Defence Force have been central to the early success of ANAOA, providing mentoring and force protection to advise and assist the Academy's Afghan instructors as part of a five-nation, British-led task force based at Camp Qargha.
Mentor to the Academy's G1 – Personnel Director, Major Matt Grantham said the graduation marked a significant improvement in the quality of leadership of the Afghan National Army (ANA).
"The academy is widely considered to produce the finest junior officers and graduates are in high demand within the respective corps of the ANA," he said.
"These men and women are readily able to accept additional responsibility, including company command in some instances, in the time following their graduation.
"Soon they will be out in the field, leading a platoon of ANA soldiers in action against the enemy."
The ANAOA, modelled on the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst in the United Kingdom (and similarly the Royal Military College Duntroon), is designed to teach Afghan National Army officers key leadership and tactical skills.
The Academy is referred to as 'Sandhurst in the Sand' by the Afghan instructors and cadets.
The 12-month officers' course is broken into three parts. First term covers basic soldier skills, the second term is focused on planning and platoon leading and the third term is counter insurgency and instructor module focused.
The infantry stream will absorb the majority of the 275 graduates, with the remainder destined for combat engineering, signals, mechanical and vehicle maintenance, and transport and logistics.
13 female officers were included in the graduating kandak, taking the total number of female graduates to more than 40 in the last six months.
The Duntroon Sword
In the tradition of the Royal Military College Duntroon, the Australian Ambassador to the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, His Excellency Mr Matthew Anderson, himself a Duntroon graduate, presented the Duntroon Sword to the most outstanding graduate from Kandak Two.
Presenting the prestigious award to 2nd Lieutenant Murtaza Hashmi, Mr Anderson said the sword symbolises strength and courage in the face of adversity.
"I have always been inspired by your patriotism," he said.
"There is simply no greater calling, than to volunteer to defend your country, and it’s all the more inspirational that you have chosen to do so in a time of war."
Lieutenant Murtaza said receiving the award was a big honour.
"It is an honour because of my struggle, and the efforts I put into the academy, and especially into my lessons," he said.
"I can’t express my feelings about it; it's a big achievement for me and for my family."