On a warm June morning, the parents, guests and VIP's started to arrive at the Afghanistan National Army Officer Academy to watch the commissioning of the newest cohort of officers into the Afghan National Army.
This was to be an extra special occasion as for the first time in the history of the ANAOA, 19 females marched onto the parade ground. Standing proudly, side by side with their 320 male colleagues, the new officers received their commission. As the parade draws to a close, anticipation is rising as the crowd waits to discover who will be awarded the sword and be declared the top cadet of the course.
It was inspiring for these women when the sword was awarded to a female 2nd Lt. Zhara. She was deemed not only the top female cadet but the top officer cadet. As this group of young female officers head off to do their specialist trainings to become intelligence, logistic or administration officers in the ANA, the latest group of females have formed up to begin their training.
Life at ANAOA The ANAOA course is split into three terms each lasting 16 weeks. In the first term, the officer cadets train in basic soldiering including first aid and basic navigation. The second term focuses on developing their communication and engineering skills, including the extensive use of modern information technology. They also research military history and study religious and cultural affairs. Alongside the military training all officer cadets receive 200 hours of English language training and, as they progress into the third term, there is a greater focus on leadership and management theory and practice.
The Academy provides a comfortable and safe environment for the officer cadets while they adjust to life in the military. The female officer cadets are accommodated in a female only secure complex, complete with a gym and excellent welfare facilities. While some of the classroom based training is delivered co-educationally, much of the training for the females is delivered by female instructors who are also responsible for the day-to-day care of the officer cadets. During training, the officer cadets are paid a good wage and provided with three meals a day in a modern dining facility. An onsite medical centre caters for all of the officer cadets should they become sick or injured.
Selection for entry into the Academy is competitive. Potential female officer cadets are required to have a minimum of a grade 12 education and be physically able to complete the course. The initial selection is conducted in the regional recruitment centres. Qualified candidates are required to attend a central selection in Kabul prior to starting the ANAOA commissioning course. Join the ANA by visiting your nearest recruiting centre or calling 0700233755.