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Staff Sgt. Steve Grever - Air Force Personnel Center Public Affairs
RANDOLPH AIR FORCE BASE, Texas – The recent efforts by Airmen and their coalition partners have led to opportunities for women in Afghanistan to serve as the first female commissioned officers in the Afghan National Army.
Lt. Col. Lisa Pike, Air Force Manpower, Services and Personnel Directorate, contributed to standing up the first Afghan Female Officer Candidate Course during her recent deployment to Afghanistan. Colonel Pike served as the chief of staff for the Combined Training Advisory Group – Army, a subordinate command of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization Training Mission and Combined Security Transition Command.
Colonel Pike said her mission focused on helping the CTAG-A train, advise, coach and monitor the Afghanistan National Army Training Center in order to establish a doctrine and education and training system capable of supporting the development of the ANA. Creating the first AFOCC included working with female Afghans to discuss the course and outline requirements they will need to commit to in order to participate in the course.
“I counseled our Afghan counterparts on the program and met with women currently in the ANA,” said Colonel Pike. “I discussed with them the fact that they are the first for all of these initiatives and their success is very important not only to women in Afghanistan, but to the future of their country and its army.”
In addition to opportunities available through AFOCC, the National Military Academy of Afghanistan admits 10 women per year. Women attending the academy make long-term commitments that involve studying at the academy for one year, attending medical school for six years and committing to the army for 20 years.
“I am very proud of all these women for stepping forward and taking a chance on making a difference,” she said. “I think it is important to have representation of an entire nation when building for the future, and it is essential for all people of a nation to be educated. Education is the key to success.”
Colonel Pike said she used these opportunities to not only educate female Afghans on the education and training programs available to them, but also to provide mentorship and good role models for them to emulate.
“I, along with other coalition women, have provided a positive example of what women can contribute, when given the chance, to the leaders of the training center and army,” she said.
Brigadier General Simon Levey, CTAG-A commanding general, said Colonel Pike’s dedication and professionalism played a critical role in the development of ANA.
“I have no doubt that it was due to her endeavors as a female role model that the Commander of ANATC decided to run the first female officer candidate course,” said General Levey. “She was his inspiration, as she was for the coalition staff.”
The ANATC is responsible for all of its army’s training and education programs. According to Colonel Pike, the creation of regional military training centers has doubled its training capacity. During the majority of her tour, Colonel Pike said the focus was on growing the army. That focus recently changed to developing the army.
“With that comes the creation and implementation of branch-specific schools in order to train and educate a more balanced force for the future,” she said.
The force support officer said she learned a lot during her deployment and developed many relationships with her coalition co-workers and Afghan counterparts that were mutually beneficial to the success of their training mission and to the future of the Afghan people.
“The relationships we have built with our Afghan counterparts and the work they and our team have done to increase both the quantity and quality of training for the Afghan National Army has been exceptional,” she said. “I think I contributed to the senior ANATC leadership's ability to see that women can be professional and competent officers, and that women can participate in their army and in the development of their country.”