January 27, 2009:
National Military Academy of Afghanistan (NMAA) graduated its first class of 84 students. All now become second lieutenants in the Afghan Army. That force currently has 80,000 troops, but is expanding to 134,000 over the next three years. Afghanistan has never had a source of young officers like the NMAA. In the past, education for older officers was provided by the Soviet Union, and a few other countries. Training for junior officers was shorter, and more concentrated on purely military matters.
The NMAA provides a four year academy offers university degrees in majors like in Civil Engineering, Computer Science, Management, and Law. The NMAA is based on the U.S. Army academy at West Point. The academies of several foreign nations were examined, but the West Point model (a university education in a military setting, combined with integral military training) was selected. NMAA, however, does not have any female cadets. That is expected to change in two or three years.
The NMAA opened four years ago, when 353 young men competed for 120 places in the academy. About 30 percent of those did not complete the four year course, which is about the same rate West Point losses students over four years.