New Female Lieutenants Commissioned
into Afghan Army
Women from the first graduating
class of the Afghan National Army Female Officer
Candidate School stand for the playing of the national
anthem during the graduation ceremony, Sept. 23, 2010.
Twenty-nine Afghan women completed 20 weeks of
training, which included eight weeks of basic training
and 12 weeks of advanced training. The advanced
training was in logistics and finance.
(U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Laura R.
September 23, 2010
By Staff Sgt. Rachel Martinez, USAF
NTM-A (NATO Training Mission - Afghanistan) Public
KABUL – “I am ready to serve my country,” shouted
29 female 2nd lieutenants as they joined the ranks of
the Afghan National Army during a graduation ceremony
Sept. 23 at Kabul Military Training Center.
There are nearly 300 women in the ANA, but these 29
women were the first group to graduate from officer
candidate school, a formalized training program.
Over the course of 20 weeks, the group of women
learned basic military skills, including leadership
qualities, and trained to become finance or logistics
officers. They were instructed and mentored along the
way by a team of U.S. and Afghan officers and NCOs.
“I am very happy today that we have 29 girls
graduating” said Afghan Maj. Fahima, one of the female
OCS instructors. “I hope that these girls who have
graduated from here do not forget their lessons and
show for the people that Afghan girls can serve in
Many of the graduating women said they were excited
about the opportunity to join the army, an opportunity
that was not available under Taliban rule.
“I always wanted to join the military,” said Afghan
2nd Lt. Habiba. “After the Taliban left I wanted to
join. I want to serve more for my people and my
Habiba, 28 and a mother of four children, has the
support of her family, something not all the women are
lucky enough to have. The family support could be seen
in the number of relatives who showed up to watch the
women graduate along with their male counterparts.
“My close family is so happy and they support me,
but my far family does not support it,” Habiba said.
“My husband always supports me. Being away from my
children for training was hard, but my husband looked
after the kids.
“My children are happy, but one is extra happy,”
Habiba continued. “My son says, ‘When I grow up I want
to join the army too.’”
Like many of the other women in her graduating
class, Habiba will go on to work in the finance field
for the Afghan Army where she hopes to serve for a
long time. She acknowledges however, that her service
may not be easy.
“The situation and condition is not easy,
especially for women to wear the military uniform,”
Coalition and Afghan leaders are hoping to change
the climate for women in the military. One step is to
get more women in the army. While there were only 29
women in this first OCS class, recruiting is currently
underway for the next class scheduled to begin in
“According to MoD the right of boys and girls are
equal in Army,” said Afghan Maj. Gen. Amin Ullah
Karim, Commander, Afghan National Army Training
Command. “As we know, having females in the army has
more positive effects because they also want to serve
for their country.”
The 29 newly-commissioned officers have the
potential to make a difference and serve as role
models for other women to join the army, according to
their U.S. advisors.
“I believe it will be a slow start because there
are a lot of pros and cons with females in the Afghan
Army; they are not quite used to it,” said U.S. Army
Sgt. Hailey Hoard, advisor. “With the strong
individuals we worked with, I think they will be able
to push forward. The candidates are very strong,
strong-willed and have great potential.”
When the women first arrived for training, many
were shy, timid and could not look people in the eyes.
They have since turned in to strong, independent women
who can look people in the eyes and say what they
want, said advisor U.S. Army Capt. Janis Lullen.
“Overall, this country is making strides to make
progress and bring the integration of the ANA full
circle,” said Lullen. “We just had a graduation of
both the male and female OCS and there was no tension.
I felt a real positive vibe in there. I think this
country is taking a giant step toward that.”