The “Crown Jewel” of Military Education in Afghanistan – from Literacy to Senior Service Schools – DoD Roundtable

The DoD Roundtable discussion focused on the Afghan Defense University this morning with Dr Jack Kem, the deputy to the commander, NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan, providing an update and answering our questions. The university is about 20% complete and will be the central facility for all of the Afghan Army Professional Military Education courses including their National Military Academy (Afghan’s West Point), NCO Academy, First Sergeant School, Battle Staff NCO Course, Command and Staff College, War College, Legal and COIN (Counter Insurgency) Academy. Dr Kem described the school as the “key enabler” for the long term health of the Afghan military and shows the commitment of the US and NATO to the country’s professional armed forces. With a focus on leader development for a self sustaining force the school is being built on 105 acres at a cost of $205,000,000. Eventually it will have 6,000-7,000 students on the campus and will be the “crown jewel” of the Afghan armed forces.

I asked specifically about literacy programs for the armed forces and Dr Kem said they have 23,000 in literacy programs right now, expecting 80,000 by December and 100,000 by July next year! The programs are so popular that they have more applicants than slots. For example, the National Military Academy had 3,000 applicants this year with only 600 accepted for the graduating class in 2014. It is a four year program that, just like our service academies, requires a high school degree and is merit based. With 200-300 faculty members planned the course shows the emphasis the military community has placed on leadership development and training programs for 3-5 years out from now.

The first students will arrive at the new facility in March 2011 with the current programs that are dispersed within other facilities to be relocated as construction allow. An interesting point that Dr Kem made is that the Afghans are doing the instructing for themselves with assistance from NATO. New programs such as the NATO/Afghan Cooperation Program; the US National Defense University (NDU) Memorandum of Understanding with an exchange of faculty between the US, UK and Afghanistan; and a graduate English program preparing 15 students for Masters Degree Level work show future opportunities for the Afghans to maintain and grow their professional education efforts. With external evaluators to review program content, accreditation standards being applied and a focus on a long term institution the Afghan Defense University appears to be heading in the right direction. Dr Kem said he was very impressed with the academy students. One fourth of the students at the National Military Academy can speak English and the students are very articulate. They will be the essential leaders as the country develops its future and charts its own path! The “crown jewel” of the Afghan military will have an impact that will last for generations according to Dr Kem!

Thank you for your time Dr Kem with the Roundtable and your efforts to help the Afghans reach their potential and grow a professional military force! If you would like to listen to the Roundtable discussion please go to DoD Live! Would you like to see more information on our efforts in Afghanistan? Please go the MilitaryAvenue Reading Room or Our Letters to You blogs! To see an interesting blog about Afghan money and recruitment please go to Success in Afghanistan? Payroll, EFT, Training, Recruitment, ++ DoD Roundtable.

A big thank you to LT Jennifer Cragg, US Navy, for her organization and moderator role in the Roundtables! They bring the military leaders in the fight right to the social media folks like and we appreciate their willingness to participate!

Photo Credit: Dr. Jack Kem, deputy to the commander, NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan DoDLive

Photo Credit: Afghan National Army (ANA) Lt. Gen. Ameenullah Karim, the commander of the ANA education department, salutes Afghan soldiers during a deployment ceremony in Kabul, Afghanistan, Nov. 22, 2009. The soldiers are members of accelerated companies that finished their training at the Kabul Military Training Center in half the regular time, bringing the ANA one step closer to meeting their goal of a 134,000-man army by October 2010. (DoD photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist F. Julian Carroll, U.S. Navy/Released)byColonel KonTuesday, June 15, 2010Military Life:,,,

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