Construction of 'Afghan Sandhurst' begins
11 October 2012
Construction work on an Afghan National Army Officer Academy (ANAOA), dubbed the 'Afghan Sandhurst', has begun at a site just outside Kabul, it has been announced.
The groundbreaking ceremony at the facility signals the start of a process that will see British troops begin to mentor instructors at the facility, which will run one-year officer courses teaching leadership and tactics to Afghan soldiers.
The academy will train around 1,500 students per year, around 10 per cent of whom will be female. Three quarters of the non-Afghan mentoring staff at the facility will be British, and training will continue after the end of ISAF military operations in Afghanistan, with support from the US, Australia, Denmark and Norway.
The groundbreaking ceremony also marked the beginning of Op Herrick 17, which saw 4th Mechanized Brigade assume command of Task Force Helmand from 12th Mechanized Brigade. British force levels in Afghanistan are set to reduce by around 500 personnel by the end of the year.
"The academy will present a real opportunity for us to help generate a well-trained cadre of junior officers to bolster the leadership within the Afghan Army for the future," Defence Secretary Philip Hammond said.
"Both the commencement of the ANAOA project and the planned drawdown of 500 personnel from 4th Mechanized Brigade by the end of the year demonstrate significant steps forward in a transition process that is well on track and will see us hand over full security responsibility for Afghanistan to its own security forces in 2014."
Brigadier Bob Bruce, Commander of Task Force Helmand for Herrick 17, said: "Our focus throughout this deployment will be on assisting our Afghan allies to deliver security to their people. We are superbly well trained and equipped to do this.
"Real success has been achieved. As the Afghan security forces continue to grow in capability and confidence we will reduce our profile. I am planning to send 500 troops home by the end of this year."