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  • Lorna Ward

Afghan National Army Officers’ Academy appoints key staff

The Afghan National Army Officers’ Academy (ANAOA) came one step closer to its opening day over the weekend with the appointment of key staff. 

Senior staff appointees to the Afghan National Army Officers’ Academy in Kabul

At the vast site in Kabul of the Afghan National Defence University – of which the ANAOA will be a part – senior commanders of the Afghan National Army gathered with representatives from their coalition partner countries including ISAF Deputy Commander and National Contingent Commander in Afghanistan, Lt Gen Nick Carter, to congratulate the individuals entrusted with the future success of the academy.

Maj Gen Payenda, the Inspector General of the ANA, remembered the day this project was born on a handshake between British Prime Minister David Cameron and Afghan President Hamid Karzai. Since the signing of the agreement on 19 July last year, he said, we have come very far and achieved huge progress to get to where we are today. Alongside partner countries Australia, New Zealand, Norway and Denmark, the UK is providing mentors and training to instructors with the aim that, working alongside Afghan Army leaders, they will create an officers’ academy modelled on the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst (RMAS) in the UK.

General Karimi, Head of the Afghan Army, Lieutenant General Nick Carter, Deputy Commander of ISAF, and Major General Payenda (left of shot, in civilian clothing)

From the windows of Massoud Hall perched on the hillside, the construction of the academy buildings spreads out across the plain surrounded by snow-covered mountains. In just a few short months, carefully selected officer cadets will begin the first commissioning course. There will be three intakes a year, with courses lasting 42 weeks each. Fourteen so-called ‘Master Trainers’ were recently nominated by Maj Gen Payenda and British contingent Chief of Staff, Brig Rob Magowan. They will shortly be sent to the RMAS for instructor training.

Their leadership will be well settled-in at the ANAOA Headquarters by then. Brig Gen Sharif, who completed staff training at Indian Staff College, was introduced at the weekend as the new Commandant of the academy. His Deputy and Director of Training, a graduate of the Advanced Command and Staff College(ACSC) in the UK – Lt Col Feda Hussein. The new Chief of Staff, Lt Col Qais Mangal is a graduate of the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, the ACSC, and a proud wearer of the British Royal Marine Commando dagger. He said he hoped to bring his extensive experience from the British military system back to his own academy and aspiring officers.

Lieutenant General Nick Carter, ISAF Deputy Commander and National Contingent Commander in Afghanistan

Lt Gen Nick Carter said what a great honour it was to be there, alongside his great friend Gen Karimi, the Afghan Chief of the General Staff, whom he first met in 2002. It was from his time as a cadet at RMAS in 1967/68 that Gen Karimi had been inspired to create the Afghan officers academy and without his vision Gen Carter said, we would not be where we are today. We have now, he said, a good team of foreign advisors who have arrived to work with their Afghan counterparts at the Academy, which is on track for its first Kandak in September this year. This is a significant commitment by coalition partners, he added, and one which will be a lasting legacy for years to come.

Both he and Gen Karimi agreed there is nothing more important to a professional army like the Afghan National Army today, than leadership and a leadership academy. And that this is why the Afghan National Army Officers’ Academy project is so special and why both are looking forward to working closely together on it.

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