Defence Attaché (DA) are members of the armed forces who serve in an embassy as representatives of their country’s defence establishment abroad. The DA’s office is responsible for all aspects of bilateral military and defence relations, maintaining as an effective direct interface between the Afghan Embassy, Ministry of Defence (MoD) in Kabul and the host country on issues of security, military exchange, cooperation and assistance. Defence diplomacy in the UK also encompasses strengthening existing military relations and expanding networks with other accredited DAs of foreign missions.
Afghanistan’s defence relations with the UK has been longstanding, military exchange begun in 1954 as the first Afghan officer cadet arrived at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst (RMAS) for commissioning training, a human testament of the enduring defence partnership. Following 2001, the UK formed and led a large part of NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan, security thus became a shared commitment that brought about our renewed strategic defence partnership and close military cooperation. While the UK’s military role in Afghanistan has changed significantly since 2014, through Resolute Support Mission, the UK armed forces in Afghanistan continue to provide training, advice and assistance for the ANDSF.
Besides capacity building and advisory assistance in Afghanistan, the UK also receives a number of Afghan cadets and officers for exchange at their world-class military institutions, such as Shrivenham Defence Academy, RMAS and the Royal College of Defence Studies (RCDS). Notably, since the beginning of the exchange in 1954, sixty-eight Afghan officer cadets have been commissioned by RMAS and returned to serve their country, amongst them, sixteen cadets received Sandhurst medals and four were awarded the International Swords, a prestigious recognition given to the best international cadet.