5. Korea Military Academies
The Republic of Korea (also referred to as South Korea) has remained in a state of armed conflict since the end of the Korean War. Technically, the war has not ended, as hostilities ceased with an armistice. In fact, there have been a number of clashes between North and South Korean military forces since the end of the war. Suffice to say, Republic of Korea military forces maintain a very high level of readiness – out of necessity of the very real possibility of having to repel an imminent attack. As such, one would be hard pressed to find a higher-maintained and trained armed force than the ROK military. Into an environment ripe for hostilities, and an armed force primed to respond, the Korea Military Academies (KMA) were established.
Korea has three primary service academies that provide undergraduate and specialized military training for the three branches of the ROK armed forces – namely, the Army, Navy and Air Force. The stated purpose of these schools is to provide military training, as well as an undergraduate education to officer cadets, for the purpose of developing professional officers for the nation’s armed forces.
As with most military academies, admittance is competitive and selective. Potential cadets must endure a series of tests (both physical and academic), as well as have done well in high school. The academies themselves are four-year, post-secondary institutions, that confer degrees in science, engineering and social sciences. There is also a strong emphasis on students mastering English as a second language, in order to better facilitate and coordinate military activities on an international level. The academic quality of the academies is on par with, or superior to, other educational institutions in Korea.
Life at the academies is based on the Cadet Corps. Cadets (or midshipmen at the Naval Academy) reside in dormitories and follow the routine military regiment that is found at most military academies. Time is spent either involved in academic course work, or military-related training. In this, KMA’s are remarkably similar to their American counterparts, which served as a model. A distinguishing difference is in the general attitude of the cadets themselves. Cadets and midshipmen at the KMA’s take their duties with an air of seriousness that is directly related with being only a few miles from the demilitarized zone (DMZ). These men and women recognize that they are the first line of defense in the event of an invasion from the north. The KMA’s, as a result, produce quality officers who understand the responsibility of their profession.
4. École Spéciale Militaire de Saint-Cyr (France)
Ah, the French. Well, a lot can be said about the French military, not all of it good…nevertheless, whatever one’s particular opinion about the French military, one thing is for certain – the French have a long history of military experience. The French have campaigned across the globe and their standard of military leadership has allowed the French to establish itself as recognized military power.
Leaders, however, have to be trained and École Spéciale Militaire de Saint-Cyr (ESM, and literally translated as the “Special Military School of Saint-Cyr”) has been performing this service since it was founded in 1803 by Napoleon Bonaparte. Located at Brittany, France, the school is considered to be France’s premier military academy. This can be summed up in the school’s motto of “they study to vanquish.” Really, you just have to love the French.
Unlike many post-secondary military institutions, ESM does not offer undergraduate degrees. Instead, graduates of the school are awarded a Master of Arts or Master of Science degree. Students who are admitted to ESM have completed an undergraduate degree course beforehand, or graduated from a Grande École (a top university). This is in addition to a competitive series of aptitude tests, physical examinations, and thorough interviews.
The purpose of the school, of course, is to train and educate students to become officers in the French armed forces. The school is structured around a three-year program that emphasizes military training and leadership, academics, and the all important physical training. During the 1st year, stress is placed equally on academics and military training. For the remaining two years, academics take precedence. Students (referred to as St. Cyrians) will continue to participate in military training during scheduled breaks of 1-3 weeks during the year. Students who attend the school are considered commissioned officers. Upon graduation, students are promoted to the rank of lieutenant, and then have to attend an additional school that is related to their military specialty. After all of this, they are assigned to a regular regiment as a platoon leader.
While at the school, students can expect the norm when it comes to a regimented, military-styled environment. The French have quite the fondness for parade, and cadets can expect plenty of marching in full regalia. To their credit, they look awesome doing it.