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Defence Secretary salutes first Afghan officer cadets

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

Michael Fallon has attended the passing out ceremony of cadets from the first intake of the Afghan National Army Officer Academy.

The Defence Secretary met with a number of the 243 graduates who were selected from an initial pool of 10,000 to attend the British-mentored officer academy.

The 42-week leadership course was inspired by the ethos of the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst but tailored to Afghan experience.

Mr Fallon said:

I am proud to see these new, highly-trained officers prepare to take their place in the Afghan National Army.

Benefiting from UK-led mentoring, these leaders will strengthen Afghan forces as they continue to provide security for their people.

Afghan National Army officer graduate
One of the newly-graduated Afghan National Army officer cadets [Picture: Corporal Chantelle Cooke RAF, Crown copyright]

With UK combat troops due to leave Afghanistan by the end of 2014, he added:

The country these new Afghan officers will soon patrol has the best possible chance of success thanks to the commitment and sacrifice of UK and ISAF troops.

Afghanistan is now a place where 7 million children attend school, almost 3 million of whom are girls, which was simply unthinkable under the Taliban.

Most importantly, Afghanistan is no longer a safe haven for international terrorism.

First intake of troops graduate from the Afghan National Army Officer Academy

The Defence Secretary’s visit to Afghanistan coincided with the first successful operational flights in Helmand of the new unmanned air system Watchkeeper.

It is the first such system developed and built in the UK to become operational and will be a significant surveillance and reconnaissance capability for the Army for years to come.