Small town boy leads mis­sion

South Waikato News - - NEWS -

From Toko­roa to Afghanistan, small town boy Ai­dan Shat­tock is now lead­ing a mil­i­tary mis­sion in the na­tion blighted by war.

New Zealand Army of­fi­cers are help­ing to de­velop the new Afghan Na­tional Army Of­fi­cer Academy and for­mer For­est View High School stu­dent Ma­jor Shat­tock is now the se­nior NZDF of­fi­cer at the camp.

An agree­ment signed be­tween Bri­tain and Afghanistan in July 2012 es­tab­lished the academy, which would be aligned with the Royal Mil­i­tary Academy at Sand­hurst. Nick­named ‘‘ Sand­hurst in the Sand’’, the academy main­tains a dis­tinctly Afghan flavour though Bri­tish forces take the lead in pro­vid­ing men­tor­ing sup­port.

The Bri­tish- led men­tor­ing mis­sion is planned to con­tinue un­til 2023.

As one of the many na­tions con­tribut­ing, New Zealand has both men­tors and sup­port per­son­nel work­ing within the Afghan Na­tional De­fence Uni- ver­sity site at Qargha in western Kabul.

Afghan Pres­i­dent Hamid Karzai of­fi­cially opened the academy in Novem­ber prais­ing the ef­forts of staff and the high stan­dards the cadets were achiev­ing.

Mr Shat­tock said the 270 care­fully se­lected cadets on the year-long course were find­ing it longer and harder than the pre­vi­ous one. Another group of 270 cadets were due to take the course in Fe­bru­ary while a third group was to start in May.

Mr Shat­tock said the stan­dards were much higher than those seen be­fore in the Afghan Na­tional Army’s of­fi­cer train­ing.

‘‘We are now in the ini­tial stages of the first course. There are some ar­eas which we need to work on, as is al­ways go­ing to hap­pen when you break new ground. But the Afghans and Coali­tion Force alike are striv­ing to en­sure the train­ing de­liv­ered is on a par with other mod­ern ar­mies around the world,’’ he said.

The academy has yet to be com­pleted and the cadets are liv­ing and work­ing in a tent com­plex known as ‘‘tent city’’.

But Mr Shat­tock is con­fi­dent the academy will be the way ahead for the fu­ture of Afghanistan’s mil­i­tary lead­er­ship.

‘‘To be a part of what we hope is the be­gin­ning of a long his­tory of high-qual­ity of­fi­cers trained by the Afghans them­selves is quite an hon­our,’’ Mr Shat­tock said.

‘‘New Zealand has a short but suc­cess­ful his­tory in Afghanistan, and we hope we can shape this in­sti­tu­tion into a legacy which will last for gen­er­a­tions and forge suc­cess for the Afghan Army in years to come,’’ he added.

Mr Shat­tock will be re­turn­ing home in June this year.

This is his sec­ond tour in Afghanistan. He was in Bamyan, Afghanistan, four years ago and has also served in Si­nai and Ti­mor.

Mak­ing his­tory: The NZ Army’s Ma­jor Ai­dan Shat­tock, right, on a run dur­ing a PT ses­sion with cadets and other men­tors from the Afghan Na­tional Army Of­fi­cer Academy.

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