During the 2011 Milblog conference, I had the privilege of asking Lt. Gen Caldwell, the Commander of NATO Training Mission – Afghanistan, a few questions about the recruitment of members into the Afghan National Army (ANA). In response, the General described the contributions of the United States Army recruiting personnel who were brought over to Afghanistan to assist in the formation and implementation of Afghan National Army Recruiting Command (ANAREC). During the round table, he also offered up the services of his speechwriter, Major Good. I took advantage by asking a few follow up questions that specifically addressed the requirements one must meet in order to join the ANA.
Not surprisingly, the requirements for joining the Afghan military are really not all that different from that of the United States military. The Afghan National Army has a Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS) where a basic literacy test is administered (we utilize the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB)). The MEPS also has doctors and a medical staff that perform physicals, provided required immunizations and even make a determination whether the recruit is actually the age his or her documents indicate. There is an oath of enlistment, but it is taken during the second week of training with their kandak (battalion).
The Afghan National Army Oath (Female Officer Example):
ANA Military Oath
In the name of God
I’m a loyal daughter to the people of Afghanistan with my admission to the Armed Forces of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (GIRoA).
I take this oath in the name of God. I will be a well disciplined officer of this country; I win be loyal andhonest and follow all roles and regulations of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (GIRoA). I will obey orders and instructions of my superiors and commander under any circumstance and condition.
My priorities will be defending territorial integrity. national freedom. and values of Islamic revolution: I will even spill my blood in serving my country.
My violation to this oath should be strictly punished based on the legislations of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (GIRoA). May God help us to succeed.
So what are the basic enlistment requirements?
The applicant must be an Afghan citizen, 18-35 years of age, with a valid Taskira (identity document that shows birth date) and be loyal to Afghan territorial integrity, national independence, and the instructions of Islam. Additionally, the applicant must be physically and mentally healthy, with no infectious diseases or disabilities/handicaps which would prevent them from carrying out their duties. One must have a clean criminal background, and cannot already be serving in, or assigned to, any other armed force. The religious requirement aside, the Afghan and United States military enlistment requirements are fundamentally similar.
Afghan women are recruited into the army, but are limited to service in non-combat vocations such as logistical, medical and administrative.
According to ANAREC surveys, the primary reason people enlist into the Afghan National Army is for service to Allah, as indicated by every respondent. Most respondents also cite pay and or service to country with a strong desire to improve their life and the life of their family.
How is a member of the Afghan National Army compensated?
Here is the current ANA Base Pay and Incentive chart; for comparison, here is the 2011 US Military Basic Pay chart. When the pay scales are contrasted, one must take into account that, just as the countries of the United States and Afghanistan seem a world apart, the same can be said of their economies.
Due in part to the assistance of the NATO Training Mission and the United States Army recruiting personnel, the Afghan Armed Forces are developing upon a foundation which harbors an organizational structure similar to that of the United Sates Armed Forces, a military paradigm that has proven successful for generations.
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