Afghan National Army prepares to take over key officer-training facility; celebrates links with NATO trainers
Kabul - Senior Afghan and NATO representatives attended a ceremony on Sunday 11th October marking the upcoming handover to the Afghan National Defence and Security Forces (ANDSF) of a key officer-training facility, another crucial milestone in their development towards full self-sufficiency and long-term institutional viability.
Camp Qargha, to the west of Kabul, has been home to a small UK-led team of multinational mentors – supported by the NATO-led Resolute Support Mission – working alongside their Afghan counterparts in delivering world-class training to cadets at the neighbouring Afghan National Army Officer Academy (ANAOA), preparing the future leaders of the Afghan National Army (ANA) to the highest international standards and equipping them to face the challenges of the future.
Founded in 2013, ANAOA produces more than 70% of officers to the Afghan National Army, including Special Forces – a figure likely to increase in coming years. A growing number of cadets are women, and the Academy and its graduates were recently commended by President Ashraf Ghani as the pride of the Afghan nation, and the embodiment of "national unity and professional competence".
The NATO Chief Mentor at ANAOA, British Brigadier Jonathan Timmis, said the handover of Qargha was a ringing endorsement of the capability and maturity of the Afghan National Army.
"Today is a celebration of Afghan growth. It is a tangible manifestation of progress in a fundamental aspect of institutional viability – leadership of this great, sovereign nation."
"ANAOA no longer needs our daily mentorship. It is well able to stand on its own two feet; planning, preparing and delivering excellence, while consistently striving to improve."
He also reflected on the contribution of his multinational NATO mentoring team in making this one of the region's leading officer-training establishment.
"As a British officer, I am intensely proud of my nation's leading commitment to this legacy. One that is shared with our current partner nations, New Zealand and Denmark, alongside those former contributors of Australia and Norway."
Lieutenant General Mohammad Nazim Payenda, the ANA's chief of Training and Doctrine and the senior Afghan officer at the event, echoed those sentiments and thanked his NATO friends and counterparts.
"The role of officers and partners from every nation…was outstanding. I want to express my gratitude and appreciation to all partners."
"I am content that your investment and efforts are not wasted. You all leave a legacy of tangible and legitimate achievements. This legacy is the effectiveness and self-sufficiency of the training and educational institutes which perform independently."
Together with NATO partners, the UK played a lead role in the inception and development of ANAOA, whose exhaustive 48-week training program is based on the format used at Britain's prestigious Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. This relationship between two academies will endure into the future, providing a close and permanent link benefiting cadets and junior leaders for years to come.
"This is not the end; far from it" said Brigadier Timmis. "We remain committed to ANAOA. We will further build with the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst a partnership of mutual benefit, starting with reciprocal visits early next year. We will continue to train officers in the UK."
NATO will continue to offer advice and remains committed to supporting the Afghan security forces through training and funding.