The Defence Academy is the UK’s Defence higher educational establishment. It is responsible for post-graduate education and the majority of command, staff, leadership, Defence management, acquisition, and technology training for members of the UK armed forces and MOD civil servants.
The Advanced Command and Staff Course comprises a number of modules looking at a wide spectrum of military, political and international issues and aims to prepare officers for high grade appointments by giving them a much greater knowledge of Defence as a whole, as well as exposing them to the challenges and complexities posed by working alongside other Government departments, and civilian organisations and industry.
The course is also aimed at developing command, analytical and communication skills and providing a broad understanding and knowledge of single-Service, joint and combined operations, and of Defence as a whole.
As well as receiving lectures from the most senior officers and civil servants in the MOD, the Secretary of State for Defence and other Government Ministers have also attended over the last year, thus allowing students to gain insight into the structure and workings of the MOD and Government.
Lectures, workshops, discussions, debate, table-top exercises, and external visits are combined with formal assessments and exams throughout the course. Add to that a 15,000 word research paper on a Defence-related subject chosen by the student, and you have a course that is very demanding intellectually.
The course is undertaken in partnership with King’s College London, and thus, while students gain the Staff College qualification there is also the opportunity to gain a Master’s degree in Military Studies alongside diplomas in Strategic Management and Leadership as part of the academic element of the course.
The 286 students (RN/RM 56, Army 72, RAF 63 and UK Govt Depts five) of which 90 are international students from 58 countries represent the top ten per cent of the officer cadre from across UK Defence and the international community.
The international students, who are fully integrated into all aspects of the course, come from the full range of NATO, European and Commonwealth countries, as well as a number from the Middle East, and from other countries as far afield as South Africa, Australia, Kazakhstan, Afghanistan, Japan and China.
The Commandant of the Joint Services Command and Staff College, Air Vice-Marshal Ray Lock, said:
Each year the Advanced Command and Staff Course provides a truly world-class education to 300 selected British, International Military and Civilian Officers who represent the top ten per cent of their generation.
The students’ successful completion of this Master’s-level course is a very significant achievement - it marks the end of an immensely demanding year where they have been challenged in many, many ways.
Their exposure to military studies, to the higher management of Defence both in the UK and abroad, and to a wide range of global issues will enable them to flourish in the difficult and challenging future we all face, from whichever country they may come.
The course has also proved to be an ideal opportunity to improve the relationship and all-round understanding between the UK students and the other 57 countries represented on the course, and it also gains the UK significant international influence. But it is all about the students - and this bunch has been tremendous.