Small town boy leads mission
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.