Security

In photos: number of female soldiers increases in Afghan National Army

By Omar

An ANA cadet is shown in training at the 207th Zafar Corps Training Centre in Guzara district, Herat province, on January 12. [Omar / Salaam Times]

ANA cadets march during a training session January 12 at the 207th Zafar Corps Training Centre in Guzara district, Herat province. [Omar / Salaam Times]

An ANA cadet is shown in training January 12 at the 207th Zafar Corps Training Centre in Guzara district, Herat province. [Omar / Salaam Times]

A member of the ANA is shown in a military exercise on January 12 at the 207th Zafar Corps Training Centre in Herat province. [Omar / Salaam Times] 

Female members of the ANA are shown during a military exercise on January 12 at the 207th Zafar Corps Training Centre in Herat province. [Omar / Salaam Times] 

An ANA cadet aims during a drill on January 12 at the 207th Zafar Corps Training Centre in Guzara district, Herat province. [Omar / Salaam Times]

Female members of the ANA are shown during a military exercise on January 12 at the 207th Zafar Corps Training Centre in Herat province. [Omar / Salaam Times] 

Female members of the ANA aim at a target during a military exercise on January 12 at the 207th Zafar Corps Training Centre in Herat province. [Omar / Salaam Times] 

HERAT -- Female soldiers and officers in the Afghan National Army (ANA) are becoming an increasingly strong presence in western Afghanistan.

They join military operations after undergoing training for a host of actions, notably search operations and the use of light and heavy weaponry.

Demonstrating their capabilities, a group of female members of the ANA conducted a series of military exercises on January 12 at the 207th Zafar Corps Training Centre in Guzara district, Herat province.

Stating the importance of women's role in the ANA, Herat officials said these women are able to perform their duties just like men.

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Female members of the ANA are shown during military training on January 12 at the 207th Zafar Corps Training Centre in Guzara district, Herat province. [Omar / Salaam Times]

Women learn from Afghan trainers at the centre upon enlisting in the ANA, and their capabilities have noticeably improved compared to the past, said Col. Mohammad Nader Afzali, commander of the 207th Zafar Corps Training Centre.

"Female soldiers and officers have the ability to do their jobs under any circumstances," he said. "Taking part in operations against the enemy and searching neighbourhoods are among the key duties of Afghan military women, which they successfully perform."

Amid the Afghan government's peace talks with the Taliban, a number of military women have reiterated the demands of female civilians, stating that women's achievements over the past 20 years should be preserved.

Like their civilian peers, the ANA's female members say they are committed to protecting women's accomplishments and will not allow anyone to impose restrictions on women's lives.

Afghan women's achievements over the past 20 years are never up for compromise, said 2nd Lt. Fatima Alizada of the 207th Zafar Corps.

"The positions we have achieved as ANA soldiers and officers need to be preserved in peace talks," she said. "Our representatives, as part of the government delegation, take part in peace negotiations, and they defend the rights of all Afghans."

"Military service is not just for men," she added. "We have also joined the service, and we serve alongside our brothers and defend our country. No one has the right to endanger our position in the future."

Although Afghan women face challenges in sensitive institutions such as the military, especially within ANA ranks, military officials in the western region say there has been a rise in the number of women who have joined the ANA, and that educated young women are showing more interest in enlisting.

In addition to participating in military training and operations, women are responsible for a large part of administrative work at the 207th Zafar Corps. Most of those women are university graduates.

Afghan women are just as capable as women in other countries and they are able to play a key role in rebuilding the country, maintaining security and enriching its culture, said 2nd Lt. Mariam Noorzai of the 207th Zafar Corps.

Just as society needs female physicians and teachers, it needs female officers and soldiers, she added.

"The Taliban should forget the past and the time of their rule [1996-2001]," she said. "They cannot go back in time and restrict women and girls. The new generation of Afghanistan will not stop, and no one can restrict their activities that lead them to prosperity."

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All of them are Hazara. To include women from other ethnic groups in the National Army, a campaign needs to be launched. Pashtun women from Nangarhar, Kunar, Laghman, Paktia, Paktika, Khost, Kandahar, Uruzgan, Farah, Kunduz, Logar, Ghazni, Zabul... and Tajik women from the Tajik populated provinces should also be included. Now, it looks like the army of Mongolia or North Korea because all of the female soldiers are Hazara. Death to Iran, death to the terrorists of Fatemiyoun Division, death to the terrorist army of Pakistan.

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All of them are flat-nose Hazaras. If you find just one woman other Hazara; from Pashtun and Tajik ethnic groups working in the ranks of the Afghan National Army, the Afghan National Police and other security agencies, I am ready to cut off my hand. Every country that has occupied Afghanistan and brought with them new beliefs and ideas, these Hazaras followed and put them into practice in their lives without questioning them. They were the Pashtuns who mostly sacrificed themselves against colonialism and defeated the occupiers. Hazaras who, except cleaning and mercenary, did not have any other jobs in this country, are now working in the ministries and live in foreign countries, but the Pashtuns, who were the main rulers of this country and have always defended this land, do not have food to eat for dinner. You come and say why Pashtuns are fighting against the government. You brought a spy who is just Pashtun by name and is not aware of Pashtuns’ culture and appointed him as the president of Afghanistan and he acts against Pashtuns every day. He works for the development of Hazaras and other atheists. This libertine opposes Taliban who wants an Islamic system that 80 percent of the people of this country want. When America accepts Taliban and supports any government that Afghan people want, why does Ashraf Ghani reject it? Therefore, my last words are that peace will not come unless an Islamic system is formed in Afghanistan, and prostitution, vice and corruption are prevent

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I was pleased to read the report. Every country needs female work force beside males to make more progress.

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