The first batch of Afghan Territorial Army cadets are in Kabul for training in preparation to serve within the framework of the defense ministry.
Afghan Defense Minister Tariq Shah Bahrami and US and NATO forces commander General John Nicholson on Monday visited the training center and addressed cadets.
This group of cadets, 370 in total, are undergoing training at the Kabul Military Training Center (KMTC).
The Territorial Army falls under the defense ministry, but is different from the Afghan National Army (ANA).
The Territorial Army soldiers will be stationed and active in the areas in which they live and will be paid 75 percent of what an ANA soldier earns.
“All the youths are proud that the Territorial Army is now active as part of the ANA. We will defend our villages,” said Fathullah, a cadet.
“I have received good training here,” said Rahm Khuda, another cadet.
Bahrami meanwhile said while at the training center the Territorial Army will support security forces and will maintain safety in areas once cleared by troops.
“This is a pilot project and still we are in the training phase. But as I see the morale of the youths, my evaluation is positive,” said Bahrami.
Army officials said currently over 77,000 armed anti-government militants are active in the country.
“It is proved that 77,500 enemies, of whom 5,000 are foreign fighters and 3,000 are Daesh militants, are carrying out activities against our country's peace and stability,” General Laal Jan Zaheer, commander of KMTC said.
Nicholson meanwhile spoke about the Afghan war and peace process and said the US supports the Afghan government and Taliban ceasefire adding that it is a big step toward peace talks.
Nicholson also said the Territorial Army is a good option in terms of defending and securing insecure parts of the country.
“The coalition forces will respond in self-defense, not only our own forces, but the Afghan forces as well. So we will not initiate action against (insurgents), but if we are attacked or any of these Afghan forces are attacked, we will defend them with all our capabilities,” said Nicholson.
Bahrami also said insurgent groups, especially the Taliban, have failed to make any big gains despite the support of some foreign countries.