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US military staff colleges

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Title: US military staff colleges  
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Subject: Military academy, Military education and training, State university system
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US military staff colleges

Staff colleges (also command and staff colleges and war colleges) train military officers in the administrative, staff and policy aspects of their profession. It is usual for such training to occur at several levels in a career. For example, an officer may be sent to various staff courses: as a captain they may be sent to a single service command and staff school to prepare for company command and equivalent staff posts; as a major to a single or joint service college to prepare for battalion command and equivalent staff posts; and as a colonel or brigadier to a higher staff college to prepare for brigade and division command and equivalent postings.

The success of Staff Colleges spawned, in the mid-twentieth century, a civilian imitation in what are called administrative staff colleges. These institutions apply some of the principles of the education of the military colleges to the executive development of managers from both the public and private sectors of the economy. The first and best-known administrative staff college was established in Britain at Greenlands near Henley, Oxfordshire and is now renamed Henley Management College.


The first modern staff college was that of Prussia. Prussian advanced officer education began under the reign of Fredrick the Great. The Seven Years War demonstrated the inadequacy of the education that Generals had at that time, but it was not until 1801 that staff training in a modern sense began when Gerhard von Scharnhorst became the director of the Militarakademie. The Prussian defeats at the hand of Napoleon I led to the creation of the Allgemeine Kriegsschule (General War Academy) with a nine month programme covering mathematics, tactics, strategy, staff work, weapons science, military geography, languages, physics, chemistry and administration.[1] The German staff courses have been used as a basic templates for other staff courses around the world.

Staff Course formats

Nations have taken a wide variety of approaches to the form, curriculum and status of staff colleges, but have much in common with the Prussian courses of the early 19th Century. Some courses act as filters for promotion or entry into a specialist staff corps. The length of courses varies widely, from three months to three years, with some having entrance and/or exit examinations. The more senior the course, the more likely that it will include strategic, political and joint aspects, with junior courses often focusing on single service and tactical military aspects of warfare.


Certain terms of art or idiom have developed in staff colleges over time, and then been used in wider college or university settings and everyday usage, including:

  • staff refers to the professional personnel (usually called Directing Staff (DS)) and employees of the college;
  • fight the white, normally expressed as do not fight the white (as in do not go against the staff's pre-determined answer), where the 'white' is the question given to students, which may lack realism or not fit current operations. A "pink" is the Staff College's staff answer to a particular problem or issue.

Staff colleges

The following is an incomplete list of staff colleges, by continent by country:


  • Ghana Armed Forces Command And Staff College, Military Academy And Training Schools, Teshie, Accra
  • Defense Staff College, Nairobi

The Americas

  • Escuela Superior de Guerra "Teniente General Luis María Campos".[2]
United States of America

Air Force






  • Defence Services Command And Staff College Mirpur
  • Army Command and Staff College(
Sri Lanka
United Arab Emirates
  • Armed Forces of the UAE Command and Staff College


Active duty officers Reserve officers Civilians
2nd tier Centre des hautes études militaires Institut des hautes études de la défense nationale Institut des hautes études de la défense nationale
1st tier École de guerre École supérieure des officiers de réserve spécialistes d'état-major None
  • École de guerre ("War School"). Created in 1993 by the fusion of the four Écoles supérieures de guerre ("War Higher Schools"). Formerly known as
  • Centre des hautes études militaires ("School of Advanced Military Studies"). Created in 1952. The students must have completed the École de guerre.
  • Institut des hautes études de la défense nationale ("School of Advanced Defense Studies"). Created in 1936. The students are civilians, both civil servants and high-profile executives, but the students of the Centre des hautes études militaires also attend the Institut..
  • École supérieure des officiers de réserve spécialistes d'état-major ("Reserve Staff Officers School"). Following the defeat of 1870-71 war, it was created in 1899 by a group of Reserve Officers and then officially became a staff college in 1900.

All these schools are seated in the école militaire in Paris.

United Kingdom



The Australian Defence College (ADC) was officially opened in 1999 in Canberra. It is a Joint organisation, and comprises:

Prior to the establishment of the Australian Command and Staff College, middle management officer Command and Staff training was conducted at separate single Service staff colleges:

New Zealand



See also


fr:École militaire
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