NEWS | March 17, 2010

Future Afghan leaders graduate from National Military Academy

By Staff Sgt. Markus M. Maier , NATO Training Mission - Afghanistan

Newly-minted Afghan military officers attend their graduation ceremony at Afghanistan's National Military Academy Thursday.
Newly-minted Afghan military officers attend their graduation ceremony at Afghanistan’s National Military Academy Thursday.
KABUL, Afghanistan (March 18, 2010) - More than 1,500 people,  including Afghan government and coalition officials, joined Afghan President Hamid Karzai in congratulating the National Military Academy graduating class of 2010 today.

Two hundred and twelve cadets joined the ranks of Afghan National Army and Afghan National Army Air Corps officers during a ceremony at the school, which was only the second since the academy first opened five years ago.

“You are the youth of the nation,” Karzai said in his speech. “You have the responsibility to be committed to your service, your people and your nation. You are from different ethnic groups and different areas of Afghanistan, but you have a unified wish to defend and serve this nation.”

The president also reflected on Aghanistan’s rich history.

“Afghanistan wasn’t always a country with nothing,” he said. “We had everything and we are working step by step to regain that power, to defend this nation. It’s in your hands.”

Other distinguished visitors included Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak, Afghan minister of defense, and Lt. Gen. William Caldwell, NATO Training Mission Afghanistan commanding general, all of which spoke at the ceremony.

“Today you join the most honored and ancient profession,  that of a professional military officer,” Caldwell said. “Today your country and your families place their security in your hands. You are indeed a unique group of Afghan citizens; you represent all ethnic groups of Afghanistan, all 34 provinces. Together, you represent the nation of Afghanistan. “

The new officers will now move on to work in the career fields of infantry, aviation, armor, engineers,  logistics, finance, communications and artillery, which the cadets chose after their third year at NMAA.

“I am feeling great today,” said Cadet Ghulam Farooq, a NMAA Class of 2010 graduate. “Today I graduate from this academy and I’m going to serve my country.”

He added that joining the Army was his childhood dream and that he is proud that today his dream turned his into reality.

“It was always my hope to become an honest officer and serve my country to help bring peace and stability to Afghanistan,” Farooq said. “My family is very excited that I am going to serve. My father was an officer in the army, and he encouraged me to become an honest officer, so he is very proud of me.”

He also said that the school was very challenging, but no problem for him.

The National Military Academy of Afghanistan which is an extensive four-year university-level institution is by many regarded as the crown jewel of the Afghan National Army. It is designed to educate, train and inspire the cadets; transforming them into competent, courageous and honorable officers.

The entire curriculum is taught by Afghan instructors who are mentored by United States Military Academy West Point and the United States Air Force Academy staff members and military officers from Turkey and India.

The mood at the ceremony was evident by the proud and joyous expression on the cadet's faces.

Caldwell closed his speech praising the cadets’ patriotism and determination to work towards a better and peaceful country.

“All of you represent the nation of Afghanistan, the best of this nation,” the general said.  “The hope and the future of your country are in your hands. Thank you for the opportunity to be here today. It is an honor to serve with you,  shoulder to shoulder, shohna ba shohna, as partners. May God preserve you and guide you as you defend Afghanistan.”