Kabul’s military training academy is churning out classes of enthusiastic women to serve in Afghanistan’s army, but the realities of rising violence and a conservative society make the future for the young recruits far from certain.

In the latest class, some of the nearly 150 women training to be officers say they feel proud to be part of the effort to secure the country, still racked by an insurgency waged by Islamist militants to topple the Western-backed government.

“I decided to join the army to save the lives of my people and to defend ourselves,” said Sakina Jafari, 21, adding that her service sets an example.

“This encourages other girls to join the army’s ranks.”

Women and men train separately at the base on the outskirts of the capital, but officers say the training is similar, and includes physical education, firearms, tactics and medical care.

Unlike many Afghans, all the women who graduate from the academy are literate and will go into one of several non-combat roles, including management, human resources, logistics, radio operations, or intelligence, said Lieutenant Colonel Cobra Tanha, a 28-year military veteran.

Some, however, may go on to assist Afghan special forces with missions like night raids, which often require women to help with culturally sensitive searches of homes, she said.

Read the whole story from Reuters.

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