Afghan National Army Recruiting Extends to Northeast
By Col. Randy Pullen, USA
Special to American Forces Press Service
FAIZABAD, Afghanistan, Sept. 24, 2004 Recruiting for the Afghan National Army extended to the country's northeastern province that touches China with the opening of the newest National Army Volunteer Center Sept. 7.
The Afghan flag is raised over the Faizabad
National Army Volunteer Center. Photo by Col. Randy Pullen, USA
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
During the opening ceremony, U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Craig P. Weston, chief of the Office of Military CooperationAfghanistan, spoke of an Afghan army that is operating throughout the country on a variety of missions.
"Four thousand, three hundred soldiers and officers of your new army are now deployed around Afghanistan, engaged in combat operations in the south and east with the coalition, fighting the enemies of your new democracy," said Weston. "And these soldiers are also deployed in the north and west for stability operations to prevent factional fighting."
He also noted that during the past six months, the Ministry of Defense has increased the number of soldiers in training simultaneously from two kandaks (battalions) of 1,500 men to four kandaks of 3,000 men. Those in training now will soon be based in the regional commands being established in Kandahar, Gardez, Mazar-e Sharif and Herat.
These soldiers and those already deployed will also be performing additional tasks for the Afghan people in the near future providing security for the presidential election and assuming security responsibilities from militia units that are being disarmed, demobilized and reintegrated.
"The young men of Badakhshan will be proud to join this army, so they too can contribute to providing peace, stability and to the rebuilding of Afghanistan," said Weston. "This volunteer center will truly open the door to opportunity for your young men, the opportunity to serve the many peoples of the new Afghanistan."
The current strength of the Afghan National Army is about 15,500, with approximately 13,000 of this number being trained soldiers and another 2,500 still in training.
The 23rd kandak of the ANA graduated from the Kabul Military Training Center Sept. 5. The 27th kandak of the ANA reported to KMTC in mid-September. By the time the 28th kandak reports for training, it could quite easily include young men recruited at the Faizabad NAVC.
(U.S. Army Col. Randy Pullen is the public affairs officer for the Office of Military CooperationAfghanistan.)