Australia has designed and delivered a new amenities centre to the Afghan National Army’s Officer Academy (ANAOA) in Kabul. Also known as ‘Sandhurst in the Sand’, the ANAOA is located at Camp Qargha on the outskirts of Kabul, and has graduated out a total of 4,936 ANA officers since establishment. The Australian-designed facility will provide recreational relief to Afghan security forces training at Qargha, during low-tempo intervals in training.
The centre’s construction began in February 2019, and was underwritten by Norway through the NATO ANA Trust Fund Organisation. Commanding Officer of the Australian Mentoring Team at ANAOA, Lieutenant Colonel Mark Smith, said the centre was designed by an Australian Project Management Team (PMT) in collaboration with ANAOA staff, Australian advisers, and the Afghan Garrison Support Unit.
“The amenities centre provides an area for cadets to relax … – enjoy a movie, play table tennis, get a haircut or buy a coffee/chai from the centre’s cafe,” LTCOL Smith continued.
“The PMT provided oversight of the construction team and conducted final assurance testing prior to the handover of the building to the Afghan Garrison Support Unit."
After handover to the ANA, Afghan officials are now responsible for the ongoing maintenance and operation of the centre. The move comes as part of ongoing support provided to the ANAOA by senior ADF and coalition staff since 2014. In recent years, these advisers have pivoted towards curriculum design, sequencing, headquarters functions, and logistics mentoring; as opposed to directly overseeing ANA cadets and instructors.
Project engineer Lieutenant Dawson Courtneya, of Joint Task Force 633's Project Management Team B (PMT-B), oversaw the final stages of the centre's construction.
"As engineers we are incredibly fortunate to be able to deliver a project like this and leave behind a physical asset for future use,” LT Courneya said.
The official opening was attended by senior ANA representatives from the Marshal Fahim National Defence University, alongside representatives from Australia, New Zealand and the UK.