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The second class of cadets has begun courses at the National Military Academy of Afghanistan, part of an effort to build an effective and independent Afghan security force.

According to officials with the U.S. military’s Office of Security Cooperation-Afghanistan, more than 200 cadets have arrived at the academy and begun a four-year program that will earn them an engineering degree and a commission as second lieutenant in the Afghan National Army upon graduation. The men were selected from more than 1,000 who took an entrance exam in November, officials said.

The first class of 120 cadets began their studies in February 2005. Those who graduate will have a 10-year service obligation to the Afghan military.

All cadets undergo seven weeks of basic combat training and then begin engineering and military courses. The academy is on the grounds of a former flight technology school in Kabul and is modeled after the United States Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., officials said.

Cadets earn $20 a month and are provided with books, supplies, housing and food.

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