Marshal Fahim National Defense University

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The Marshal Fahim National Defense University, also known as the Afghan National Defense University, is a military academy located in Kabul, Afghanistan. It formally housed various educational establishments for the Afghan Armed Forces. The university sits on a 105 acres of land west of Kabul in the Qargha area.

There are three distinct parts to the university:

  • the National Military Academy of Afghanistan (NMAA),
  • the Afghan National Army Officer Academy (ANAOA), and
  • the Non-Commissioned Officer (NCO) Academy, which will include the Sergeant Major Academy.

The site also housed the ANA Foreign Language Institute.

History of the military site at Qargha

Geography The key to Qargha's historical importance is its geographical position. Qargha lies at the western extremity of Kabul, a low plateau dominated to the north and west by a crescent shaped range of hills. Even to the untrained eye, its strategic significance is obvious. To the south west the pass leading to Wardak, Ghazni and Kandahar forms a deep V shape cut into the mountains; to the west lie the Paghman mountains, the Paghman plateau and the road leading into the Hazarajat; and to the north, beyond the ridge, the Kabul valley extends to Bagram, Charikar and the passes at Parwan and into the Panjshir Valley.

Ancient History The valley in which the university is situated has witnessed the passage of Afghanistan's invaders throughout recorded history, from Alexander the Great in 326BC to Genghis Khan in 1222 AD, followed by Tamerlane (Timur) in 1380 and Babur in 1504. On three separate occasions three hundred years later, the shepherds grazing their flocks on the hillsides would have seen the British advancing up the valley from the East, Robert Sale in 1839, George Pollock in 1842 and Frederick Roberts in 1879.

Modern History – The Royal Period The modern history of Qargha begins in the early 1880s, when Abdur Rahman Khan, the founder of the regular Afghan army, established a logistics base in Qargha to sustain its operations in the Hazarajat region. The camp was expanded considerably during the reign of Abbul Rahman's grandson, Emir Amānullāh Khān in the 1920s when he invited advisors from the Turkish and German armies to train his army in order to assert his newly won independence from British control. It became the home of the Kabul Division which was essentially the Emir's strategic reserve. The camp performed this function until the time of the Soviet occupation in 1979.

Modern History – The Soviet Period The Soviet occupation of Qargha began in 1980. They too used the site as a logistics depot, digging ordnance storage bunkers into the northern hillside of the camp, many of which are still in use by the ANA. By the mid-1980s Qargha was occupied by around 12,000 troops, about half Soviet and half Afghan. Despite the huge number of troops on the site, the Mujahideen succeeded in launching an audacious infiltration attack which destroyed a large part of the ordnance depot with a spectacular explosion which could be heard across Kabul city. The attack caused several months of disruption to Soviet supply lines as they struggled to rebuild the depot.

Modern History – The Massoud Period The decision of Abdul Rashid Dostum to move his Jowzjani militia out of Qargha to join Ahmad Shah Massoud’s coalition of warlords in the north and North East of the country contributed to the downfall of Mohammad Najibullah's government. Massoud sited a number of Mujahideen troops at Qargha, and he was a frequent visitor to the site, staying in the commander's white house on the hillside, which is now known as 'Massoud House'.

Modern History – The Taliban Period Massoud's forces pulled out of Qargha in 1996. The installations left over from the Royal Army and Soviet periods made it an ideal site for the Taliban, who moved in and used it as a training and ordnance depot. They were still in occupation when American bombs rained down in during the Post 9/11 offensive in October 2001, obliterating most of the buildings.

Qargha today

Qargha remained a bombed-out moonscape until the decision was made to make it the site of the planned Afghan National Defense University. American contractors moved in mid-2008 to clear the site, which previously served a variety of military roles since the Soviet–Afghan War.

When building work is complete, the Qargha site will centralise the training of the majority of future officers and non-commissioned officers in the Afghan Armed Forces. Officer training currently takes place at both the ANDU site and east of the city at the Kabul Military Training Center. NMAA was previously located to the north of the city close to the Kabul International Airport but moved to the ANDU site in 2012.

A cornerstone laying ceremony was conducted in April 2010 and the construction was completed in 2013. The total cost for the first phase of work was $200 million. Institutions that are located at ADU include the National Military Academy of Afghanistan.

In April 2014, the university was renamed the Defense University of Marshal Fahim in honor of the former Vice President of Afghanistan, Mohammed Fahim who died of a heart attack on 9 March 2014. The ANDU has been commanded by Major General Jalinda Shah since May 2014.

National Military Academy

The National Military Academy of Afghanistan is modelled on the United States Military Academy and United States Air Force Academy. It is designed to train cadets to produce well-educated and professional officers for each of the disciplines of the ANA and AAF. Schools include Armor, Artillery, Human Resources, Signal, Infantry, Engineer, Legal, Military Police, Logistics, Religious/Cultural Affairs, Intelligence and Finance.

NMAA moved to the ANDU site in Qargha on completion of its new campus in 2012. It was previously located in the old Air Academy established by the Soviet Union to the north of Kabul beside Kabul International Airport.

NMAA cadets study both military and academic subjects for a total of 4 years and are awarded a degree from ANDU before commissioning into the ANA as Second Lieutenants. Female cadets have studied at the NMAA since 2011 and the first intake of NMAA-trained female officers will graduate in 2015.

Afghan National Army Officer Academy (ANAOA)

The ANA Officer Academy is also referred to in Afghanistan as ANAOA and the Junior Officer Academy. It was reported as early as 2006 that the United Kingdom would take a primary role in the creation of an Officer Academy for the ANA and AAF. Nicknamed "Sandhurst in the Sand", the Academy was to be modelled on the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. This was supported by the then-head of the ANA, General Sher Mohammad Karimi, who attended Sandhurst himself in the 1960s.

On 29 March 2012 UK Defence Secretary Philip Hammond met Afghan General Abdul Rahim Wardak and signed a statement of intent on developing the academy. The UK will provide approximately 75% of the training staff for the new Academy and will be involved in its running long after the 2014 deadline for pulling out the majority of troops. Afghan officer cadets have been undertaking training at Sandhurst in recent years in order to improve the standard of officers in the ANA.

On 19 July 2012 on a visit to Kabul the British Prime Minister David Cameron signed a Memorandum of Understanding for the UK to provide mentors and advisors to the Afghan National Army Officer Academy. New Zealand will also contribute support to the ANA Officer Academy.

Located in the Qargha area of Kabul, the first concrete steps were taken 10 Oct 12 to start the construction of the academy with a ground breaking ceremony attended by a number of dignitaries including the ANA Chief of General Staff General Shir Mohammad Karimi, Her Majesty's Ambassador to Afghanistan Sir Richard Stagg, ISAF Deputy Commander Lt. Gen. Adrian Bradshaw and Commander of the NATO Training Mission (NTM-A) Lt Gen Bolger.

The ANA Officer Academy accepted its first intake of 270 students selected from approximately 10,000 initial applicants in October 2013. Training is being delivered by a staff of Afghan officers and soldiers in cooperation with a team of mentors from the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Denmark and Norway.

The ANA Officer Academy started recruiting its first intake of women in February 2014. Female staff will receive instructor training with their male colleagues, and they will be mentored by a coalition female mentoring team. Female candidates will attend a two-day selection test on the Qargha site in April 2014 and a platoon (balook) of 30 female officer cadets will start training alongside the third male intake in June 2014.

Sergeant Major Academy

The Sergeant Major Academy is currently part of the Kabul Military Training Center. It trains male and female soldiers at the rank of E7 staff sergeant in order to prepare them for service as Sergeant Majors at the ranks of E8 and E9 in the ANA and AAF. The Academy will move to the ANDU site in Qargha on completion of the Phase 2 build project.[citation needed]

Non-Commissioned Officer (NCO) Academy

The Non-Commissioned Officer Academy will undertake training of soldiers from all disciplines up to the level of staff sergeant.[citation needed]

Defense Institute of Foreign Languages

The Institute will deliver training in Foreign Languages for individuals posted into defence diplomacy billets.[citation needed]

Women's participation program

In April 2019, at Marshal Fahim National Defense University (MFNDU), the women's participation program (WPP) was awarded 5 buildings at 3 sites. Three gymnasiums and a child care center were constructed for the program. The sites were appropriately shielded for privacy of the participants. The gymnasiums and child care center contain up-to-date equipment and materials.