Afghan Armed Forces

The Afghan Armed Forces are the military forces of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. They consist of the Afghan National Army and the Afghan Air Force. The President of Afghanistan is Commander-in-Chief of the Afghan Armed Forces, which is administratively controlled through the Ministry of Defense. The National Military Command Center in Kabul serves as the headquarters of the Afghan Armed Forces. The Afghan Armed Forces currently has approximately 200,000 active duty soldiers and airmen,[4][7] which are expected to reach 260,000 soldiers and airmen in the coming year.[8][9]

The current Afghan military originates in 1709 when the Hotaki dynasty was established in Kandahar followed by the Durrani Empire. The Afghan military fought many wars with the Safavid dynasty and Maratha Empire from the 18th to the 19th century. It was re-organized by the British in 1880, when the country was ruled by Amir Abdur Rahman Khan. It was modernized during King Amanullah Khan's rule in the early 20th century, and upgraded during King Zahir Shah's forty-year rule. From 1978 to 1992, the Soviet-backed Afghan Armed Force fought with multi-national mujahideen groups who were being backed by the United States, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan. After President Najibullah's resignation in 1992 and the end of Soviet support, the military dissolved into portions controlled by different warlord factions and the mujahideen took control over the government. This era was followed by the rise of the Pakistan-backed Taliban regime, who established a military force on the basis of Islamic sharia law.

After the removal of the Taliban and the formation of the Transitional Islamic State of Afghanistan in late 2001 and 2002, respectively, the Afghan Armed Forces was gradually rebuilt by NATO forces in the country, primarily by the United States Armed Forces. Despite early problems with recruitment and training, it is becoming effective in fighting against the Taliban insurgency. As of 2014, it is becoming able to operate independently from the NATO International Security Assistance Force. As a major non-NATO ally of the United States, Afghanistan continues to receive billions of dollars in military assistance.

Afghan Armed Forces
نیروهای مسلح افغانستان
Founded1 December 2002 (current form)
(16 years, 1 month)[1]
1709 (original)
Service branchesAfghan National Army emblem.svg Afghan National Army
Emblem of the Afghan Air Force.svg Afghan Air Force
HeadquartersNational Military Command Center, Kabul, Kabul Province, Afghanistan[2]
PresidentAshraf Ghani
Minister of DefenceGeneral Abdullah Habibi
Military age16
Available for
military service
6,800,888 males, age 16 to 49[5],
6,413,647 females, age 16 to 49[5]
Fit for
military service
3,888,358 males, age 16 to 49[5],
3,641,998 females, age 16 to 49[5]
Reaching military
age annually
378,996 males,
357,822 females
Active personnel195,000 (2014)[4]
Budget$11.6 billion (2011) (mostly aid)[6]
Foreign suppliersCurrent:
 United States
 Soviet Union
 United Kingdom
Related articles
HistoryMilitary history of Afghanistan
Soviet–Afghan War
War in Afghanistan
RanksRanks of the Afghan Armed Forces


Afghan royal soldiers of the Durrani Empire
Afghan royal soldiers of the Durrani Empire.

Afghans have served in the militaries of the Ghaznavids (963–1187), Ghurids (1148–1215), Delhi Sultanate (1206–1527), Mughals (1526–1858) and the Persian army.[10] The current Afghan military traces its origin to the early 18th century when the Hotaki dynasty rose to power in Kandahar and defeated the Persian Safavid Empire at the Battle of Gulnabad in 1722.[11]

"The sun had just appeared on the horizon when the armies began to observe each other with that curiosity so natural on these dreadful occasions. The Persian army just come out of the capital, being composed of whatever was most brilliant at court, seemed as if it had been formed rather to make a show than to fight. The riches and variety of their arms and vestments, the beauty of their horses, the gold and precious stones with which some of their harnesses were covered, and the richness of their tents contributed to render the Persian camp very pompous and magnificent.
On the other side there was a much smaller body of soldiers, disfigured with fatigue and the scorching heat of the sun. Their clothes were so ragged and torn in so long a march that they were scarce sufficient to cover them from the weather, and, their horses being adorned with only leather and brass, there was nothing glittering about them but their spears and sabres..."[12]

— Jonas Hanway, 1712–1786

When Ahmad Shah Durrani formed the Durrani Empire in 1747, his Afghan army fought a number of wars in the Punjab region of Hindustan during the 18th to the 19th century. One of the famous battles was the 1761 Battle of Panipat in which the Afghans invaded and decisively defeated the Hindu Maratha Empire.[13] The Afghans then engaged in wars with the Punjabi Sikh Empire of Ranjit Singh, which included the Battle of Jamrud in which Hari Singh Nalwa was killed by Prince Akbar Khan. During the First Anglo-Afghan War, British India invaded Afghanistan in 1838 but withdraw in 1842. During the three years a number of battles took place in different parts of Afghanistan.

King Habibullah Khan with Afghan military men
King Habibullah Khan with the military men of Afghanistan in the early 1900s.

The first organized army of Afghanistan (in the modern sense) was established after the Second Anglo-Afghan War in 1880 when the nation was ruled by Emir Abdur Rahman Khan.[14][15] Traditionally, Afghan governments relied on three military institutions: the regular army, tribal levies, and community militias. The regular army was sustained by the state and commanded by government leaders. The tribal or regional levies - irregular forces - had part-time soldiers provided by tribal or regional chieftains. The chiefs received tax breaks, land ownership, cash payments, or other privileges in return. The community militia included all available able-bodied members of the community, mobilized to fight, probably only in exceptional circumstances, for common causes under community leaders. Combining these three institutions created a formidable force whose components supplemented each other's strengths and minimized their weaknesses.[15][16][17][18]

After the Third Anglo-Afghan War ended, the reforming King Amanullah did not see the need for a large army, instead deciding to rely on Afghanistan's historical martial qualities. This resulted in neglect, cutbacks, recruitment problems, and finally an army unable to quell the 1929 up-rising that cost him his throne.[19] However, under his reign, the Afghan Air Force was formed in 1924. The Afghan Armed Forces were expanded during King Zahir Shah's reign, reaching a strength of 70,000 in 1933.

Following World War II, Afghanistan briefly received continued military support from the British government under the Lancaster Plan from 1945 to 1947, until the partition of India realigned British priorities in the region.[20] Afghanistan declined to join the 1955 United States-sponsored Baghdad Pact; this rebuff did not stop the United States from continuing its low-level aid program, but it was reluctant to provide Afghanistan with military assistance, so Daoud turned to the Soviet Union and its allies for military aid, and in 1955 he received approximately US$25 million of military aid. In addition, the Soviet bloc also began construction of military airfields in Bagram, Mazar-e-Sharif, and Shindand.[21] By the 1960s, Soviet assistance started to improve the structure, armament, training, and command and control arrangements for the military. The Afghan Armed Forces reached a strength of 98,000 (90,000 soldiers and 8,000 airmen) by this period.[22]

MiG-15s and Il-28s at Kabul 1959
MiG-15 fighters and Il-28 bombers of the Royal Afghan Air Force in 1959.

After the exile of King Zahir Shah in 1973, President Daud Khan forged stronger ties with the Soviets by signing two highly controversial military aid packages for his nation in 1973 and 1975. For three years, the Afghan Armed Forces and police officers received advanced Soviet weapons, as well as training by the KGB and Soviet Armed Forces. Due to problems with local political parties in his country, President Daud Khan decided to distance himself from the Soviets in 1976. He made Afghanistan's ties closer to the Greater Middle East and the United States instead.

From 1977 to 1978, the Afghan Armed Forces conducted joint military training with the Egyptian Armed Forces. In April 1978 there was a coup, known as the Saur Revolution, orchestrated by members of the government loyal to the People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA). This led to a full-scale Soviet invasion in December 1979, led by the 40th Army and the Airborne Forces. In 1981 the total strength of the Army was around 85,000 troops according to The New York Times.[23] The Army had around 35-40,000 soldiers, who was mostly conscripts, the Air Force had around 7,000 airmen and if put together all military personnel in 1984, the total strength of the Afghan Armed Forces was around 87,000 in 1984.[24] Throughout the 1980s, the Afghan Armed Forces was heavily involved in fighting against the multi-national Mujahiddin rebel groups who were largely backed by the United States and trained by the Pakistani Armed Forces. The rebel groups were fighting to force the Soviet Union to withdraw from Afghanistan as well as to remove the Soviet-backed government of President Mohammad Najibullah. Due to large number of defectors, the Afghan Armed Forces in 1985 was reduced to around 47,000.[25] The Air Force had over 150 combat aircraft with about 7,000 officers who were supported by an estimated 5,000 Cuban Revolutionary Air and Air Defense Force and Czechoslovak Air Force advisers.[26]

Weapons supplies were made available to the Mujahideen through numerous countries; the United States purchased all of Israel's captured Soviet weapons clandestinely, and then funnelled the weapons to the Mujahideen, while Egypt upgraded their own Army's weapons, and sent the older weapons to the militants, Turkey sold their World War II stockpiles to the warlords, and the British and Swiss provided Blowpipe missiles and Oerlikon anti-aircraft guns respectively, after they were found to be poor models for their own forces.[27] China provided the most relevant weapons, likely due to their own experience with guerrilla warfare, and kept meticulous record of all the shipments.[27]

Following the Soviet withdrawal in 1989 the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan continued to deal with attacks from the Mujahiddin.[28] For several years the Afghan Armed Forces had actually increased their effectiveness past levels ever achieved during the Soviet military presence. But the government was dealt a major blow when Abdul Rashid Dostum, a leading general, switched allegiances to the Mujahideen in 1992 and together they captured the city of Kabul.[29] By 1992 the Army fragmented into regional militias under local warlords because of the fall of the Soviet Union which stopped supplying the Afghan Armed Forces and later in 1992 when the Afghan government lost power and the country went into a state of anarchy.

"The fall of the Moscow-backed regime in 1992 disintegrated the state as well as the army. Bits and pieces of the fragmented military either disappeared or joined the warring factions that were locked in a drawn-out power struggle. The warring factions were composed of odd assortments of armed groups with varying levels of loyalties, political commitment, professional skills, and organizational integrity."[30]

— Ali A. Jalali, 2002

After the fall of Najibullah's regime in 1992, private militias were formed and the nation began to witness a Civil War between the various warlords, including Ahmad Shah Massoud, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, Abdul Rashid Dostum, Abdul Ali Mazari, Ismail Khan, and many others. They received logistics support from foreign powers including Russia, Pakistan, India, Iran, China, France, Canada and the United States. When the Taliban took power in 1996, the warlords fled Kabul to the north or neighboring countries. With the backing and support of Pakistan, the Taliban began creating a new military force purely based on Islam's Sharia law.

The Taliban maintained a military during their period of control. The Taliban Army possessed over 400 T-54/55 and T-62 tanks and more than 200 Armoured personnel carriers.[31] The Afghan Air Force under the Taliban maintained five supersonic MIG-21MFs and 10 Sukhoi-22 fighter-bombers.[32] In 1995, during the 1995 Airstan incident, a Taliban fighter plane captured a Russian transport. They also held six Mil Mi-8 helicopters, five Mi-35s, five L-39Cs, six An-12s, 25 An-26s, a dozen An-24/32s, an IL-18, and a Yakovlev.[33]

Current organization

Afghan soldiers
Soldiers of the Afghan National Army, including the ANA Commando Brigade standing in the front.

After the formation of the Karzai administration in late 2001, the Afghan Armed Forces was gradually reestablished by the United States and its allies. Initially, a new land force, the Afghan National Army (ANA), was created, along with an air arm, the Afghan National Army Air Corps, as an integral part of the Army. The ANA Air Corps later split off to become an independent branch, the Afghan Air Force (AAF). Commandos and Special Forces were also trained and formed as a part of the Afghan National Army. Training was managed initially by the U.S. Office of Military Cooperation, followed by other U.S. organisations and then Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan, and is now being run by the NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan.

The Afghan Air Force was relatively capable before and during the 1980s but by late 2001, the number of operational aircraft available was minimal. The United States and its allies quickly eliminated the remaining strength and ability of the Taliban to operate aircraft in the opening stages of their invasion. With the occupation of airbases by American forces it became clear how destitute the Air Force had become since the withdrawal of the Soviet Union. Most aircraft were only remnants rusting away for a decade or more. Many others were relocated to neighboring countries for storage purposes or sold cheaply. The AAF was reduced to a very small force while the country was torn by civil war. It is currently being rebuilt and modernized by the NATO-led multinational Combined Air Power Transition Force of the international Combined Security Transition Command - Afghanistan (CSTC-A).[34]

There has been significant progress toward revitalization of the Afghan Armed Forces in the last decade, with two service branches established. The ANA and AAF are under the Afghan Ministry of Defense, which forms the basic military force. By 2006, more than 60,000 former militiamen from around the country have been disarmed.[35] Most heavy weapons from Panjshir, Balkh, Nangarhar and other areas were seized by the Afghan government. In 2007, it was reported that the DDR programmes had dismantled 274 paramilitary organizations, reintegrated over 62,000 militia members into civilian life, and recovered more than 84,000 weapons, including heavy weapons. But The New York Times reported in October 2007 this information in the context of a reported rise in the number of hoarded weapons in the face of what has been seen as a growing Taliban threat, even in the north of the country.[36]

The ANA Commando Battalion was established in 2007. The Afghan National Development Strategy of 2008 explained that the aim of DIAG (Disbandment of Illegal Armed Groups) was to ban all illegal armed groups in all provinces of the country. Approximately 2,000 such groups have been identified and most of them have surrendered to the Afghan government or joined the nation's military.

The NATO-trained Afghan National Army is organized into 31 Kandaks, or Battalions, 28 of which are considered combat ready. Seven regional corps headquarters exist. The National Military Academy of Afghanistan was built to provide future officers, it is modeled after the United States Military Academy and United States Air Force Academy. The Afghan Defense University (ADU) is located in Kabul province and consists of a headquarters building, classrooms, dining facility, library, and medical clinic. In addition to this, an $80 million central command center was built next to the Hamid Karzai International Airport. In 2012, Afghanistan became a Major non-NATO ally of the United States.

Sizable numbers of Afghan officers are sent to be trained in India either at the Indian Military Academy in Dehradun, the National Defence Academy near Pune or the Officers Training Academy in Chennai. The Indian Military Academy which has been in existence since 1932, provides a 4-year degree to army officers, while the National Defence Academy is a tri-service college provides a 3-year degree after which officers undergo a 1-year specialization in their respective service colleges. The Officers Training Academy on the other hand provides a 49-week course to Graduate officer candidates. In 2014 the number of Afghan officers in training in India was nearly 1,100.[37] A Total of 1,200 Afghan officers have been trained up to 2013.[38]

The total manpower of the Afghan Armed Forces was around 164,000 in May 2011.[39] By September 2014 it has reached 195,000.[4] Its Air Force has about 100 refurbished aircraft, which includes A-29 Super Tucano attack aircraft, Lockheed C-130 Hercules and Pilatus PC-12s military transport aircraft, as well as Mil Mi-17 and Mi-24 helicopters. It also includes trainers such as Aero L-39 Albatros and Cessna 182. The manpower of the Afghan Air Force is around 3600 airmen, including 450 pilots. It also has small number of female pilots.

Organization and leadership

Minister of Defense 15 September 2012 – 24 May 2015 Bismillah Khan Mohammadi stands with the Afghan National Army senior noncommissioned officer corps at the 9th annual Sergeant Major of the Army seminar held at the Kabul Military Training Center
Wardak-Karimi-Wardak in 2006
Former Defense Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak 2001–2008, Chief of the General Staff General Sher Mohammad Karimi, and Colonel Shah Mahmood Rauf Wardak.
  • Defense Minister, General Mohammed Masoom Stanekzai
  • Defense Ministry Spokesman, Major General Dawlat Waziri
  • Chief of Staff of the General Staff (CoGS), Lieutenant General Murad Ali Murad
  • Vice Chief of the General Staff (VCoGS),
  • Deputy Chief of the General Staff (DoGS), Lieutenant General Mohammad Ikram
  • Afghan Air Force Commander, Lieutenant General Mohammad Dawran[40]
  • Command Sergeant Major of the ANA, Sergeant Major Roshan Safi
  • General Staff Chief of Personnel (GSG1), Lieutenant General Murad Ali Murad
  • General Staff Chief of Intelligence (GSG2), Major General Abdul Khaliq Faryad
  • General Staff Chief of Operations (GSG3), Major General Afzal Aman
  • General Staff Chief of Logistics (GSG4), Lieutenant General Azizuddin Farahee
  • General Staff Chief of Plans (GSG5), Major General Jan Kahn
  • General Staff Chief of Communications (GSG6), Major General Mehrab Ali
  • General Staff Chief of Doctrine & Training (GSG7), Major General Kushiwal
  • General Staff Chief of Engineering (GSEng), Major General Muslim Amid
  • General Staff Inspector General, Major General Jalandar Shah
  • Surgeon General, Lieutenant General Dr. Abdul Qayum Tutakhail
  • 201st Selab ("Flood") Corps Commander, Major General Mohammad Rahim Wardak
  • 203rd Tandar ("Thunder") Corps Commander, Major General Abdul Khaleq
  • 205th Atal ("Hero") Corps Commander, Major General Sher Mohammad Zazai
  • 207th Zafar ("Victory") Corps Commander, Major General Jalandar Shah Behnam
  • 209th Shaheen ("Falcon") Corps Commander, Major General Murad Ali
  • 215th Maiwand Corps Commander, Major Gen. Sayed Malouk
  • Afghan National Army Training Command, Major General Aminullah Karim
  • ANA Special Operations Command
  • ANA Recruiting Command, Lieutenant General Mohammad Eshaq Noori
  • Headquarters Security and Support Brigade, Brigadier General Sadiq
  • Command and General Staff College, Major General Rizak
  • National Military Academy of Afghanistan, Major General Mohammad Sharef
  • Kabul Military Training Centre, Brigadier General Mohammad Amin Wardak[41]

Bases and equipment

Construction of ANA base in Herat
Construction of Camp Zafar in Herat province (2005)
Camp Shaheen in 2009
Inside Camp Shaheen in Balkh province (2009)

Large numbers of military bases are found all cross the country, including major ones in Kabul, Kandahar, Herat, Balkh, Nangarhar, Khost, Paktia, Paktika, Maidan Wardak, Ghazni, Farah, and many other provinces. Some of these were built by the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) while others by ISAF and Afghans. It was reported in 2010 that there were at least 700 military bases inside Afghanistan but more were expected to be built in the coming years. About 400 of these were used by Americans and ISAF forces with the remaining 300 or so by Afghan National Security Forces.[42]

During the 1950s and 1960s, Afghanistan purchased moderate quantities of Soviet weapons to keep the military up to date. It was mainly Sukhoi Su-7, MiG-21 fighter jets, T-34 and Iosif Stalin tanks, SU-76 self-propelled guns, GAZ-69 4x4 light trucks of jeep class (in many versions), ZIL-157 military trucks, Katyusha multiple rocket launchers, and BTR-40 and BTR-152 armored personnel carriers. Also included were PPSh-41 and RPK machine guns. After King Zahir Shah's exile in 1973, President Daoud Khan made attempts to create a strong Afghan military in the Greater Middle East-South Asia region. Between 1973 and 1978, Afghanistan obtained more sophisticated Soviet weapons such as Mi-4 and Mi-8 helicopters, Su-22 and Il-28 jets. In addition to that the nation possessed great many T-55, T-62, and PT-76 tanks along with huge amounts of AKM assault rifles ordered. Armored vehicles delivered in the 1970s also included: ZIL-135s, BMP-1s, BRDM-1s, BTR-60s, UAZ-469, and GAZ-66 as well as large quantities of small arms and artillery.

Under the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan (1978–1992), weapon deliveries by the Soviets were increased and included Mi-24 helicopters, MiG-23 fighter aircraft, ZSU-23-4 "Shilka" and ZSU-57-2 anti-aircraft self-propelled mounts, MT-LB armored personnel carriers, BM-27 "Uragan" and BM-21 "Grad" multiple-launch rocket systems and FROG-7 and Scud launchers.[43] Some of the weapons that were not damaged during the decades of wars are still being used today, while the remainder have probably been sold on the black market.

US Navy 110105-N-0318S-093 A U.S. Marine Corps CH-53 Sea Stallion helicopter flies over a Seabee project site in Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan
Camp Leatherneck in Helmand province under construction in 2011. It was officially transferred to Afghan Armed Forces in October 2014
Construction of Afghan National Army base in southern Afghanistan
Construction of ANA base in Kandahar province.
Site managers checking the progress of construction on the dining facility on Forward Operating Base Super FOB in Paktika province, which is able to feed 1,000 Afghan soldiers at a time. (2012)

The United States has provided billions of dollars in military aid. One package included 2,500 Humvees, tens of thousands of M16 assault rifles and body armoured-jackets. It also included the building of a national military command center as well as training compounds in several provinces of the country. Canadian Forces supplied some ANA soldiers surplus C7 assault rifles but the Afghans returned the Canadian-made C7 in favor of the American-made M16 rifle, reason being that parts between the two rifles, despite being similar, are not fully interchangeable.

Besides NATO, Afghanistan has been increasingly turning to India and Russia for assistance. Both countries have supported the Northern Alliance, with funding, training, supplies and medical treatment of wounded fighters, against the Taliban prior to 2002. India has been helping with several billion dollars invested in infrastructure development projects in Afghanistan besides the training of Afghan officers in India, but has been reluctant to provide military aid due to fears of antagonizing its regional rival Pakistan. In 2013, after years of subtle reminders, the Afghan government sent a wish list of heavy weapons to India.[38] The list includes as many as 150 battle tanks T-72, 120 (105 mm) field guns, a large number of 82 mm mortars, one medium lift transport aircraft AN-32, two squadrons of medium lift Mi-17 and attack helicopters Mi-35, and a large number of trucks. In 2014, India signed a deal with Russia and Afghanistan where it would pay Russia for all the heavy equipment requested by Afghanistan instead of directly supplying them. The deal also includes the refurbishment of heavy weapons left behind since the Soviet war.[37][44]

The United States has also been largely responsible for the growth of the Afghan Air Force, as part of the Combined Air Power Transition Force, from four aircraft at the end of 2001 to about 100 as of 2011. Types include Lockheed C-130 Hercules and Pilatus PC-12 transport aircraft, A-29 Super Tucano attack aircraft, as well as Mi-17 troop-carrying helicopters and Mi-35 attack helicopters. The aircrew are being trained by an American team. The American intention is to spend around $5 billion by 2016 to increase the force to around 120 aircraft.

As the size of Afghan Armed Force is growing rapidly so is the need for more aircraft and vehicles. It was announced in 2011 that the Afghan Armed Forces would be provided with 145 multi-type aircraft, 21 helicopters and 23,000 various type vehicles. As a Major non-NATO ally of the United States, Afghanistan is able to purchase and receive weapons from the United States without restrictions. In the meantime, the Afghan Air Force began seeking fighter aircraft and other advanced weapons. Defense Minister Wardak explained that "what we are asking to acquire is just the ability to defend ourselves, and also to be relevant in the future so that our friends and allies can count on us to participate in peacekeeping and other operations of mutual interest."[45]


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External links

1961 in Afghanistan

The following lists events that happened during 1961 in Afghanistan.

1979 Herat uprising

The 1979 Herat uprising was an insurrection that took place in and around the town of Herat, Afghanistan in March 1979. It included both a popular uprising and a mutiny of Afghan Army troops against the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan (DRA). The communist regime at first appealed to its Soviet allies for help, but the Soviet leadership declined to intervene. After the insurgents seized and held the city for about a week, the regime was able to retake it with its own forces, and the subsequent aerial bombardment and recapture of Herat left up to 25,000 of its inhabitants dead.

Afghan Air Force

The Afghan Air Force (AAF; Pashto: دافغانستان هوائی ځواک‎; Dari: قوای هوائی افغانستان‎) is the aerial warfare branch of the Afghan Armed Forces. It is divided into four wings, with the 1st Wing at Kabul, the 2nd Wing at Kandahar, the 3rd Wing at Shindand, and the 4th Wing at Mazar-i-Sharif in northern Afghanistan. Lt. Gen. Mohammad Dawran serves as Chief of Staff of the Afghan Air Force and Major General Abdul Wahab Wardak is the Afghan Air Force Commander. The command center of the Afghan Air Force is located at Kabul International Airport and the Shindand Air Base in Herat Province serves as the main training area.

The Afghan Air Force was established in 1924 under the reign of King Amanullah and significantly modernized by King Zahir Shah in the 1960s. During the 1980s, the Soviet Union built up the Afghan Air Force, first in an attempt to defeat the mujahideen and in hopes that strong Afghan airpower would preserve the pro-Soviet government of Najibullah. The Afghan Air Force had over 400 aircraft, including more than 200 Soviet-made fighter jets. The collapse of Najibullah's government in 1992 and the continuation of a civil war throughout the 1990s reduced the number of Afghan aircraft to less than a dozen. During Operation Enduring Freedom in late 2001, in which the Taliban government was ousted from power, all that remained of the Air Force was a few helicopters.

Since 2007, the NATO Combined Air Power Transition Force (CAPTF), which was renamed the NATO Air Training Command-Afghanistan (NATC-A) in 2010, has worked to rebuild and modernize the Afghan Air Force. The CAPTF / NATC-A serves as the air component of the NATO Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan which is responsible for rebuilding the Afghan Armed Forces. The AAF currently has about 100 aircraft and around 5,000 airmen. By 2016 the NATO training mission in Afghanistan wants to raise the ranks of the AAF to 8,000 airmen and increase the number of aircraft, which are progressively getting more advanced.

Afghan National Security Forces

The Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF), also known as the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF), consist of:

Afghan Armed Forces

Afghan National Army

Afghan Air Force

Afghan National Police

Afghan Local Police

National Directorate of Security (NDS)

Battle of Darzab (2017)

The Battle of Darzab was to an armed conflict between Taliban soldiers, fighters of Wilayat Khorasan and soldiers of Afghan armed forces in Darzab District of Jowzjan province.

Camp Leatherneck

Camp Leatherneck is a 1,600 acre Afghan Armed Forces base in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. The site is mostly in Washir District and is conjoined with Camp Bastion, the main British military base in Afghanistan.

Control of the site was transferred from the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) to the Afghan Armed Forces on 26 October 2014.

Kabul Military Training Center

The Kabul Military Training Centre (KMTC) is a basic training centre for the Afghan Armed Forces. Located about 8 miles to the east on the outskirts of Kabul, it offers basic courses including 16-week basic infantry training.Kabul Military Training Center is one of the biggest basic training centers in Afghanistan. As of April 2008, of the 70,000 Afghans which had entered the Afghan National Army (ANA), a third had been trained at the KMTC between 2007 and 2008.

List of Afghan Armed Forces installations

This is a list of Afghan Armed Forces installations used by the Afghan National Army

The main units are Corps size:

201st 'Selab' (Flood)


205th 'Atul' (Hero)


209th 'Shaheen'

215th 'Maiwand'

Maroon beret

The maroon beret in a military configuration has been an international symbol of airborne forces since the Second World War. It was officially introduced in 1942, at the direction of Major-General Frederick "Boy" Browning, commander of the British 1st Airborne Division. It was first worn by the Parachute Regiment in action in North Africa during November 1942. Although coloured maroon, the beret of the British Parachute Regiment is often called the "red beret."

Marshal Fahim National Defense University

The Marshal Fahim National Defense University is located in the Qargha (or Qargheh) district of Kabul on a 105-acre site on a plateau to the west of the Kabul city centre near Police District 5. It houses various educational establishments for the Afghan Armed Forces.

There are three distinct parts to the university:

the National Military Academy of Afghanistan (NMAA),

the Afghan National Army Officer Academy (ANAOA), and

the Non-Commissioned Officer (NCO) Academy, which will include the Sergeant Major Academy.The site will also house the ANA Foreign Language Institute.

Ministry of Defense (Afghanistan)

The Afghan Ministry of Defense (Pashto: د افغانستان ملی دفاع وزارت) is an organ of the Government of Afghanistan, overseeing the Afghan Armed Forces. Its headquarters is located in Kabul.The defense minister is nominated by the President of Afghanistan and the National Assembly makes the final approval.

One of the functions of the Defense Ministry is the continuance of disarming insurgent groups through programmes such as the Afghan New Beginnings Programme. These militant groups coalesced from warlords and former army personnel after the collapse of the Najibullah government in 1992.

NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan

The NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan (NTM-A) is a multinational military organisation, activated in November 2009, tasked with providing a higher-level training for the Afghan National Army (ANA) and Afghan Air Force (AAF), including defense colleges and academies, as well as being responsible for doctrine development, and training and advising Afghan National Police (ANP). The commanding officers, is dual-hatted and commands both NTM-A and Combined Security Transition Command – Afghanistan (CSTC-A) and reports to Commander ISAF.Its mission is: "NTM-A/CSTC-A, in coordination with NATO Nations and Partners, International Organizations, Donors and NGO's (Non-Government Organizations); supports GIRoA (Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan) as it generates and sustains the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF), develops leaders, and establishes enduring institutional capacity in order to enable accountable Afghan-led security."This will reflect the Afghan government's policing priorities and will complement existing training and capacity development programs, including the European Union Police Mission and the work of the International Police Coordination Board.

During the 1960s to the early 1990s, the Afghan army was trained and equipped by the Soviet Union. By 1992 it fragmented into regional militias under local warlords. This was followed by the Taliban rule in 1996. After the removal of the Taliban in late 2001, the new Afghan armed forces were formed with the support of US and other NATO countries. As of 2009, all training for the Afghan security forces have been conducted by a single Command.

National Military Academy of Afghanistan

The National Military Academy of Afghanistan (NMAA) (Pashto: د افغانستان ملي نظامي اکادمۍ‎ Persian: آکادمی نظامی ملی افغانستان‎) is one of three academic institutions of the Marshal Fahim National Defense University. It is a four-year military development institution dedicated to graduating officers for the Afghan National Army (ANA) and the Afghan Air Force (AAF). The mission of the NMAA is to produce officers for the Afghan Armed Forces that also have a four-year college level bachelor's degree. The academy is based upon the United States Military Academy and United States Air Force Academy.

Construction on the NMAA's permanent campus was completed in 2012.

Operation Eagle's Feather

Operation Eagle's Feather is an operation in which the Polish Army, supported by the Afghan Armed Forces, carried out an offensive against the Taliban in Afghanistan as part of the War on Terror. The Polish Army targeted and attacked a number of weapons dumps and Taliban radio masts. This was the largest operation of the Polish Army during the War on Terror in Afghanistan. According to Gazeta Wyborcza, about 800 Polish soldiers were involved in the operation.

Politics of Afghanistan

The politics of Afghanistan consists of the council of ministers, provincial governors and the national assembly, with a president serving as the head of state and commander-in-chief of the Afghan Armed Forces. The nation is currently led by President Ashraf Ghani who is backed by two vice presidents, Abdul Rashid Dostum and Sarwar Danish. In the last decade the politics of Afghanistan have been influenced by NATO countries, particularly the United States, in an effort to stabilise and democratise the country. In 2004, the nation's new constitution was adopted and an executive president was elected. The following year a general election to choose parliamentarians took place.

Hamid Karzai was declared the first ever democratically elected head of state in Afghanistan in 2004, winning a second five-year term in 2009. The National Assembly is Afghanistan's national legislature. It is a bicameral body, composed of the House of the People and the House of Elders. The first legislature was elected in 2005 and the current one in 2010. Members of the Supreme Court were appointed by the president to form the judiciary. Together, this new system is to provide a new set of checks and balances that was unheard of in the country.

Ranks of the Afghan Armed Forces

The Afghan Armed Forces is composed of personnel of various ranks which span three pay-grade brackets, those being on-Commissioned Officers, Commissioned Officers and the General Staff. The highest official rank within the AAF is Marshal, which has not been used since Mohammed Fahim, who left the position in 2002.


Not to be confused with Torkham, Pakistan.Torkham (Urdu, Persian, and Pashto: تورخم‬‎ Tūrkham) is city and a major border crossing between Pakistan and Afghanistan, located along international border between the two countries. It connects Nangarhar province of Afghanistan with Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. It is the busiest port of entry between the two countries, serving as a major transporting, shipping, and receiving site.Highway 7 connects Torkham to Kabul through Jalalabad. On the Pakistani side, the border crossing is at the end of the N-5 National Highway, which connects it to Peshawar in the east and further connects it to Islamabad by other routes.

The Afghan Border Police and Pakistan's Frontier Corps are the main agencies for controlling Torkham. They are backed by the Pakistani and Afghan Armed Forces. There is also some presence of NATO forces on the Afghan side of the crossing, mainly personnel of the U.S. Armed Forces. The American Forward Operating Base Torkham (FOB Torkham) is located a few miles from the crossing in Nangarhar province. Torkham belongs to the Momand Dara district of Nangarhar.

United Nations Good Offices Mission in Afghanistan and Pakistan

United Nations Good Offices Mission in Afghanistan and Pakistan (UNGOMAP) was established in May 1988, during the Soviet–Afghan War, to assist in ensuring the implementation of the agreements on the settlement of the situation relating to Afghanistan and investigate and report possible violations of any of the provisions of the agreements. The United Nations Security Council confirmed its establishment in Resolution 622 (1988).

By 15 August 1988, the Soviet military withdrew nearly 50 percent of its troops (some 50,000 men) from Afghanistan, evacuating 10 main garrisons and handing them over to the Afghan armed forces. Another 8 garrisons remained under Soviet control until the end of the pullout on 15 February 1989.

UNGOMAP received numerous Maa Chuda complaints from both Afghanistan and Pakistan of alleged violations of the Geneva accords. Afghanistan alleged political activities and propaganda hostile to the Government of Afghanistan taking place in Pakistan, border crossings of men and materiel from Pakistan to Afghanistan, cross-border firings, acts of sabotage, rocket attacks on major urban centres, violations of Afghan airspace by Pakistan aircraft, the continued presence in Pakistan of training camps and arms depots for Afghan opposition groups, and direct involvement by Pakistan military personnel inside Afghanistan, as well as restrictions placed on refugees who wished to return to Afghanistan. Pakistan's complaints included allegations of political activities and propaganda hostile to the Government of Pakistan, bombings and violations of its airspace by Afghan aircraft, acts of sabotage and cross-border firings, including the use of SCUD missiles against Pakistan territory.

UNGOMAP made every effort to investigate complaints lodged by the two parties. However, a number of difficulties hampered the effectiveness of the work of the Mission's inspection teams. These included the rough nature of the terrain, the time which lapsed before many of the alleged incidents were reported, and the security conditions prevailing in the area of operation.

UNGOMAP also maintained close cooperation with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). In particular, it was ready to monitor the situation inside Afghanistan and inform UNHCR of the safety conditions necessary for the return and resettlement of refugees. Up to 5 million refugees were estimated to be living in Pakistan and Iran. However, because the fighting in Afghanistan continued, conditions remained unstable and only a limited number of refugees returned to Afghanistan.

UNGOMAP's mandate formally ended on 15 March 1990.

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