Afghan Biographies

Mohammadzai, Brig Gen Mrs Khatool

Name Mohammadzai, Brig Gen Mrs Khatool
Ethnic backgr. Pashtun
Date of birth 1966
Function/Grade Director for Woman Affairs ANA MoD
History and Biodata

2. Previous Functions:
Director for Woman Affairs in the Afghan Army ANA Ministry of Defense (MoD)· and for Physical Training of recruits

3. Biodata:
mohammadzai_khatoolBrig Gen Khatool Mohammadza's was born 1966 in Kabul. Her own childhood was untypical for a girl in any Islamic country; one in which sport and martial arts featured prominently – she has black belts in Judo, Tae Kwondo, Karate. Unusually, too, she was encouraged by a father and uncle who told her she was “very brave” and should do whatever she was capable of doing. Academically she shone; at Kabul’s Ariana School, then the capital’s Jamal Mena University where she studied law before joining the Army.

She said: “It was always my ambition to join the Army; at that time Afghanistan was a democracy, Najibullah was President – a good , honest man. There were more ladies in training school then, but I always came top,” she adds matter-of-factly. “ Now it’s hard for people in Afghanistan to see a woman the Army.”

“It wasn’t so difficult for a woman to succeed once, but when the Taliban period started they said women couldn’t work so I had to sit at home doing things like tailoring.”

She joint the Afghan Army in 1984 and is Afghanistan’s first ever female paratrooper, and she is currently, the most senior female officer in the Afghan National Army. She has been in the Afghan Army for 26 years, and through out all these years, she’s made more than 500 parachute jumps. During her early years in the parachute unit, Mohammadzai broke her hand and leg and lost teeth, but she said there were more than a dozen women in the unit with her and women served as pilots, in the medical, security and logistics careers.

General Khatool explains that although times were hard under the Taliban she never left Kabul to take refuge in Iranian or Pakistani refugee camps like so many other Afghans. “I love my country. I stayed here; I said ‘I’ll die if necessary, but I will stay in my country’.”

She confirms that in the Afghan Army men and women undergo similar basic weapons training, military skills and fitness but when we stray into the area of front line involvement it’s a different story. Even General Khatool with her considerable athletic skills and commando pedigree, has never been deployed operationally.

She has no English but speaks Urdu, Dari and some Russian as well as her native Pashtu.

Currently (20100728) there are 301 women serving in the Afghan National Army and just fewer than 1,000 in the Afghan National Police. While the ANA is on schedule to meet its overall recruiting goals of 134,000 by October 2010, the Ministry of Interior is struggling to fill the mandate of having women make up 10 percent of the army’s end strength.

Last Modified 2011-04-16
Established 2011-04-16