About the Author: Jennifer Vitela serves as Assistant Information Officer at U.S. Embassy Kabul.
The National Military Academy of Afghanistan (NMAA) awarded its first honorary degree to U.S. Ambassador Karl Eikenberry in a ceremony attended by almost 2,000 cadets and instructors on Tuesday, June 22.
Major General Sharif, Commander of the NMAA, thanked Ambassador Eikenberry for his work in founding the NMAA and credited him for its success. "Based upon then-Lieutenant General Eikenberry's request, staff and faculty from the United States Military Academy at West Point worked closely with members of a select committee from the Ministry of Defense and the Turkish Military Attache, Colonel Shner Takbash, to complete the concept plan for NMAA in August 2002," he said.
Lieutenant General Fowzi, the Deputy Defense Minister, then presented the honorary degree and a sword to the Ambassador. "My dear friend Ambassador Eikenberry, you are the first to receive an honorary diploma from the National Military Academy of Afghanistan," he said. "You have played a key role in establishing this academy and as a representative of the Ministry of Defense of Afghanistan, I present you with my heartfelt congratulations and thank you for all your help."
Ambassador Eikenberry then addressed the audience of cadets and instructors. He said, "It has been almost seven years since we started on this journey together towards the objective of building a very strong and enduring national military academy. Our goal from the outset was to establish an academy which would provide the Afghan National Army with the credibility and capability to develop its own professional officers who in turn support and defend the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. Partnered together, shoulder-to-shoulder, I believe we have succeeded in meeting this goal.""You represent the best of your nation and with that comes the tremendous responsibility to lead your soldiers in the defense of your country and your people," he continued. "It is the professionalization of the Afghan army that is the key to the stability and security of your country. It is the professional army, under your leadership, that will defend your great nation and protect the institutions of civilian government and, importantly, the rule of law. This will enable your nation to continue to grow and prosper in peace."
The National Military Academy of Afghanistan educates, trains and inspires the Cadet Brigade to develop officers for the Afghan National Army. As an institution of higher learning, NMAA has acquired both a national and international reputation for excellence. Thus far, NMAA has graduated 294 cadets who are executing important duties in the ANA. NMAA currently has 1520 enrolled at the Academy.