Promoting civilian oversight of the Afghan armed forces

 pilot course on civilian oversight of the armed forces involving Afghan experts was hosted by the Azerbaijan Diplomatic Academy (ADA) University in Baku, from 3 to 7 April 2017. The course was conducted by Afghanistan’s Marshal Fahim National Defence University (MFNDU) with the support of NATO, the Romanian National Defence University “Carol I” and the Bulgarian “G.S. Rakovski” National Defence College.

Academic Team, MFNDU, NATO, Afghan participants from MFA, MOI, National Directorate of Security, Parliament, MOD and interpreters.

Selected Afghan experts from the ministries of defence, interior, and foreign affairs participated in the course, which was aimed at testing and validating the curriculum that had been developed for a two-week course on this important topic. The course offered participants opportunities to enhance:

  • knowledge and critical/strategic thinking
  • the ability to provide strategic advice at the level of defence and security institutions
  • dialogue about civilian oversight of the armed forces, from various perspectives, both military and civilian.

“The Afghan Academic Team had the leading role in conducting the workshop, which provided a great opportunity for the Afghan instructors to put in practice what they had learned from the NATO Academic team in the past workshops,” says Colonel Najiuburahman Sabawoon of the MFNDU. “I believe what we learned here in this workshop will certainly help us perform our duties back in Afghanistan.”

Colonel Stan Anton from the Carol I National Defence University (Romania), Academic Coordinator with the three speakers and course facilitators from the MFNDU.

The subject of civilian oversight of the armed forces has been an integral part of the initiatives taken forward in the framework of NATO’s Defense Education Enhancement Programme (DEEP) with Afghanistan over the past few years. The DEEP with Afghanistan was developed at the request of the Afghan National Army (ANA), to enhance the strategic culture within the ANA officer corps, promote leadership capacities and coordination in civilian oversight of the armed forces in Afghanistan.

“The event is assessed to have been a critical one for DEEP Afghanistan in that the MFNDU assumed responsibility for their institutional, faculty and curriculum development, proving that MFNDU is transforming by raising the standard of instruction and academic leadership,” explains Colonel Stan Anton of the Romanian National Defence University “Through such courses, by ensuring active-learning environments, we create capacity and capability, demonstrating once again that knowledge grows when is shared.”

To give substance to the theoretical background of the workshop, the participants were given concrete examples of how civilian oversight of the armed forces is implemented in Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria and Romania.

“The democratic control of the armed forces is a long and complex evolving process but that is the case for all countries in the world,” stresses Frédérique Jacquemin, NATO Senior Programme Manager DEEP Afghanistan. “Co-ownership, mutual understanding, patience and respect of specificities are the key ingredients of the DEEP with Afghanistan.”

Based on the lessons drawn from this pilot course/workshop, the MFNDU will implement a two-week course on this topic to include decision making on ensuring national security in Afghanistan.

“ADA University has been pleased to host this training for Afghan military officers,” says Fariz İsmailzade, Vice Rector. “We are proud of this cooperation with NATO and Afghan defence and civilian agencies. We will be looking forward for more such events in Azerbaijan, which has proved to be an effective platform for international projects.”

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