Malalai ... For our Afghan partners, the name Malalai is a hallowed name of a woman, a wife, a daughter who assumed a position on the battlefield in 1880 just as the Afghans were faltering against their British foe ... she seized the battle flag and led an Afghan unit. A British bullet pierced her body and took her life, but her bravery in the face of danger has shown the mettle of the Afghan people.
From this bravery rises a group of courageous women who dedicate themselves to Afghanistan and their fellow countrymen and women. Today, I was privileged to be with the Afghan Training Command Commander, MG Karim, and the Kabul Military Training Center (KMTC) Commander, BG Patyani, at the second "Malalai Company" Officer Candidate School (OCS) graduation.
Prior to the graduation, we were honored to hear MG Karim speak to the soon to be newly commissioned Afghan Army Lieutenants. With their shiny gold bars adorning their uniforms, the future lieutenants showed the same pride and honor as their company's namesake, Malalai. As MG Karim reminded them that they are "the future of Afghanistan and they are also the future leaders of the Afghan Army" you could see them smile knowing the honor that comment bestows on each of them.
Just prior to the ceremony for the newest ANA officers, I had the opportunity to speak with five of the pioneer female officers from the first OCS class who had returned to the commissioning ceremony to welcome these 20 daughters of Afghanistan into their sisterhood of arms!
The Malalai namesake OCS is a 20-week training course dedicated to training Afghan women who volunteer to serve in the Afghan National Army. The women follow the same syllabus as the male OCS including basic rifle marksmanship ... of which they are all good shots! During OCS their training focus is on various required courses such as finance, signal, computer studies, and spoken and written English rather than combat training. After graduation, they attend their vocational school that trains them on their specific skills for service in the Afghan Army.
After speaking with these young lieutenants, there is no doubt they will serve their nation, and their fellow Afghans, with the respect and honor that Malalai would expect from each of them!