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Staff colleges (also command and staff colleges or 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 collegesmarker. 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 Greenlandsmarker near Henleymarker, Oxfordshire and is now re-named Henley Management Collegemarker.


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 generals' education, but it was not until 1801 that staff training in a modern sense began when Gerhard von Scharnhorst became 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. 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 staff colleges' form, curriculum and status, 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. Course lengths vary widely between 3 months and 3 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.

Staff colleges

The Australian Defence College (ADC) was officially opened in 1999 in Canberramarker. 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:




Defence Services Staff College, Wellington




New Zealand




Sri Lanka

United Kingdom

United States of America

See also


  1. Martin Van Crefeld, The Training of Officers, from military professionalism to irrelevance. Free Press, 1990.

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