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British troops to lead new Afghan Officer Academy 08 July 2011

Afghan warrior trainees in line at the new Afghan Military Training Centre in Helmand (stock image).

The UK's Armed Forces will lead a new Afghan National Army (ANA) Officer Training Academy, to be based just outside Kabul, Prime Minister David Cameron has announced. 

The NATO Training Mission - Afghanistan (NTM-A) is about to begin building the new ANA Officer Academy at Qargha, south-west Kabul. It is intended that the UK will provide the majority of manpower at the Academy and are seeking a partner nation or nations to support us in this task.

Announcing the withdrawal of 500 UK troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2012 on 6 July, Mr Cameron said: "In Afghanistan I announced plans for a new officer training academy. This was something President Karzai specifically asked me for, and I am proud that Britain is able to deliver it.

"We intend to lead the Academy from 2013, in addition to maintaining our current role in the Officer Candidate School which is due to merge with the Academy in 2017."

A graduating class of the Afghan National Army Female Officer Candidate School stands for the Afghan national anthem during their graduation ceremony (stock image)Leadership and tactical skills

The UK Armed Forces are world leaders in officer training and are pleased to be able to use their expertise to develop a programme of instruction for the Afghans which will help to develop an enduringly capable Afghan National Army.

It is envisioned that the UK will provide around 75 per cent of the international trainers at the Academy which will amount to around 100 officers plus necessary medical and logistical support elements. This UK manpower commitment will diminish over time as the Afghans begin to take over the lead in the Academy.

The trainers will run one-year courses for the Afghans based around the Royal Military College Sandhurst model, to teach ANA officers leadership and tactical skills.

The Chief of the Defence Staff General Sir David Richards said: "I welcome the Prime Minister's pledge of officer training to the Afghan military.

"The UK's model for officer development is respected across the world, and I am very proud to be able to offer assistance to the Afghan National Army to develop the command and leadership that is so vital to a professional and effective military. It will secure the enduring military relationship between our two nations, and will ensure the enemies of Afghanistan will meet a formidable professional security force."

Longer course for officers

NTM-A is funding the building of the Academy and will meet the future running costs and Afghan student costs.

Under current arrangements, the vast majority of Afghan officers are trained at the Officer Candidate School in Kabul, with a small proportion - the top 10 per cent - undertaking a four-year West Point (leading US Military Academy in New York) -style academic course at the US-led National Military Academy of Afghanistan.

This model has worked well and has allowed large numbers of Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) to be trained over the past few years. But the NTM-A recognises that the throughput of the ANSF will reduce as the size of the force stabilises. It therefore makes sense to revise the way training is delivered and to develop a longer course for officers - which will be delivered at the new Academy.