Top grad from 10th ANAOA class is a woman, she'll go on to study in the UK
Afghan National Army Second Lieutenant Somaiya received honors during a ceremony at the Afghan National Army Officer Academy Nov. 23. Somaiya was selected as the top cadet out of 344 graduating, and will go to the U.K. for one year to train at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst.
23 Nov 2017
KABUL, Afghanistan (November 23, 2017) - The Afghan National Army Officer Academy graduated 344 new officers today, including 26 female officers - the largest number of female officers to date.
"This should be an extremely proud day for you and your family and your friends, as gaining a commission to the Afghan National Army is a significant achievement that warrants all of our respect and pride," said British Lieutenant General Richard Cripwell, Resolute Support deputy commander. "You should be incredibly proud of this first step in your military career."
The year-long course challenges cadets both academically and physically. Their academic curriculum is based on the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst model - mirroring the British Army's leadership courses - and is structured in three stages: learn to soldier, learn to lead and learn to lead in combat.
"Your training has not been easy, but it was not supposed to be," Cripwell said. "Training is designed to be difficult so that it better prepares us for the responsibilities that we have chosen to assume. Training together helps us to understand each other and instills confidence in our abilities. It makes us ready to be given the greatest honor that can be given to an officer, which is to command and to lead soldiers."
This year has been significant for ANAOA. Today was the 10th graduating class since the Academy's inception in 2013, and there have been a record number of female graduates in 2017. The academy graduated 23 females in March, in addition to today's 26, and there are currently more than 100 female cadets enrolled. The graduating class today also boasts the first female selected as the recipient of the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst Scholarship, which will send her to train at RMAS for one year. RMAS is the premier military academy in the UK.
Second Lieutenant Somaiya received the Sandhurst scholarship and the Duntroon Sword of Honor, a gift from the Royal Australian Military College at Duntroon, honors reserved for the top graduate in the class.
"The military officer academy creates leaders in Afghan National Army. We women now serve alongside our brothers, and to wear the military uniform for Afghanistan is the greatest symbol of pride I could ever put on," Somaiya said, as she addressed those gathered for the ceremony and her fellow graduates. "(ANAOA) represents all of Afghanistan, because we have people here from all regions, tribes and ethnicities. They are here united together against the enemies of Afghanistan."
ANAOA is currently one of the three main institutions providing officers for the Afghan National Army. It is supported by a four-nation mentoring team led by the UK.