136/2012 - Ceremony to mark start of building work for Afghan Officer Academy in Kabul as UK brigades changover in Helmand

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

A turning of the earth ceremony has taken place at the site of what will become the Afghan National Army Officer Academy (ANAOA) - underlining the UK’s long-term commitment to a secure Afghanistan after combat operations cease by the end of 2014.

Once fully operational, the ANAOA will train up to 1,350 male students and 150 female students each year. Based on a model resembling the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, it will help to sustain the ongoing progress being made in building a capable and professional Afghan National Army. This work will take place during and after the transition of security responsibilities to the Afghan Government post-2014.

The event coincided with the transfer of authority between British brigades in Helmand with 4th Mechanized Brigade taking command of Task Force Helmand from 12th Mechanized Brigade which is now on its way home. The transfer of authority marks the start of Operation HERRICK 17 which will oversee the drawdown of 500 UK service personnel already announced to take place by the end of this year.

The next six months will see 4th Mechanized Brigade working in support of the Afghan National Security Forces to ensure they are capable of assuming full security responsibilities during the course of 2014.

Defence Secretary Philip Hammond MP said:

In July, the Prime Minister and President Karzai signed a Memorandum of Understanding to reaffirm UK and Afghan dedication to the officer academy project in Kabul which is one of the UK’s commitments to an enduring partnership with Afghanistan after our combat operations cease .

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.

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.

Speaking at the groundbreaking ceremony, Deputy Commander ISAF, Lieutenant General Adrian Bradshaw, said:

The training that will take place here will develop the next generation of military leaders in a brand new Afghan National Army Officers’ Academy. This is yet another example of how ISAF and the Afghan National Security Forces are sustaining the progress we have made in building a capable and professional force.

I am very proud of our achievements and the turning of the earth marks not only the start of the main construction effort, but also the beginning of the academy itself. It is a truly historic occasion.

Personnel from 4th Mechanized Brigade will work alongside the Afghan Army and the Afghan National Police in a coordinated effort over the forthcoming winter.

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.


Notes to editors

  • The UK will commence full mentoring activities at the ANAOA during the 2013/14 academic year.
  • The UK will be mentoring, assisting and advising Afghan Instructors to run one year courses - based around the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst model - designed to teach Afghan National Army officers leadership and tactical skills.
  • While the UK is leading the ANAOA project, we are working closely with a number of partner nations including the US, Australia, Denmark and Norway.
  • UK Forces are deployed to Afghanistan in support of the UN authorised, NATO led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) mission and as part of the US-led Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF). UK operations in Afghanistan are being conducted under the name Op HERRICK.
  • Task Force Helmand is the name given to UK-led forces in Helmand Province, southern Afghanistan. The lead formation of British troops in Helmand province is 4th Mechanized Brigade (The Black Rats).
  • For further information on 4th Mechanized Brigade visit
  • The Central Helmand Security Shura on 4 October was hosted by Provincial Chief of Police Colonel Elham and chaired by the Director of Helmand National Directorate of Security (NDS) Brigadier Wahidi. In attendance was the Commander for 3rd Brigade 215 Corps Brigadier Sherin Shah, Commander 5 Brigade and Afghan National Civil Order Police, Colonel Sakhi, along with their British counterparts Brigadier Douglas Chalmers and Brigadier Bob Bruce.
  • For more information about this press release, contact the Task Force Helmand Media Operations staff on 0208 099 2531 (call routed via London) or email