3. Australian Defense Force Academy
Our brothers-in-arms from down under have a military tradition of distinguished service that dates back to its colonial period, when under British rule. With traditions and styles that hearken to its British roots, the Australian military has stood as the wall of defense for this island/continent nation since its inception. When one considers the geographic importance of the Australian continent, one can begin to conceive the necessity of not only a strong military component, but an effective and competent one as well. Indeed, while the Australian armed forces have never been large, they have nevertheless been able to perform at levels that belie their size. Certainly, this fact says quite a bit about the quality of leadership within the Australian armed forces.
With the demand for quality, came the need for quality instruction. Unfortunately, Australia was rather slow in doing anything about this despite how, immediately after World War II, the service components recognized a need for improved educational opportunities for its officers. It would take almost 40 years for this need to bear fruition, but it finally did and the Australian Defense Force Academy (ADFA) opened its doors in 1986. The stated purpose of the ADFA is to “to serve Australia by providing the Australian Defense Force (ADF) with tertiary graduates who have the foundational attributes, intellect and skills required of an officer.”
The ADFA is located in Canberra, Australia, and has an interesting partnership with the University of New South Wales (which also has a Canberra campus located on the ADFA grounds). While the ADFA concentrates on providing the military oriented training to cadets, the University of New South Wales (UNSW) provides the tertiary education. The civilian school is also the body that actually awards the earned degrees. Cadets and midshipmen are able to earn Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Engineering and Bachelor of Technology degrees. The ADFA, for its part, is a tri-service institution, meaning that it serves all three branches of the Australian military, instead of each service component having its own dedicated academy.
As one would expect, entrance into the ADFA is competitive with most students being in the upper echelon of academic prowess in Australia. Cadets (Army and Air Force) and midshipmen (Navy) at ADFA experience a military-styled education, much like those found at any other military academy. There is a regimented day filled with classes, training, and formations. Students wear uniforms and conform to a rank structure, in which their fellow cadets and midshipmen serve in leadership roles. Students are encouraged (“strongly”, according to the literature) to participate in sporting activities, but this is not required. Further, students are allowed to leave campus on the weekends and holidays. Also, cadets and midshipmen live in single person rooms!
In short, the ADFA provides Australia with a continuing pool of effective leaders that will carry the Australian military into the new millennium and beyond.
2. Egyptian Military Academy
Some thought went into the selection of a military academy from the African continent. Ultimately, with Egypt dominating the headlines in recent months, and the fact that its military plays a major role in the affairs of the nation, I decided the Egyptian Military Academy (EMA) merited a spot on our list. The EMA is viewed as the most prestigious (and certainly the oldest) educational institution of its kind, in North Africa and the Middle East.
Currently located in Cairo, Egypt; the EMA was established in 1811. The stated purpose of EMA is as follows:
“Preparing and qualifying combatant officers capable of leading their sub-units during war and peace times under different psychological and physical circumstances and with different standards of morale, in addition to maintaining the highest level of combat capability of their units, with a scientific and cultural background that enables them to cope with the rapid development of military sciences.”
It’s interesting to note that, up until 1936, admission to EMA was reserved for the Egyptian social elite. This policy changed, however, and potential students from lower and middle class families have been allowed to attend the school since. Graduates of EMA are commissioned as officers primarily in the Egyptian army; however the school also provides officers for other branch components of the Egyptian armed forces. And yes, women are accepted as cadets at EMA.
There is, for whatever reason, a general misconception that many institutions of higher learning in so-called third world environments are sub-standard in comparison to their western counterparts. Nothing could be further from the truth, as students at EMA are exposed to a quality educational standard that is comparable to any university-level institution found around world. The military in Egypt tends to play a major role in the political leadership makeup of the nation, in addition to its traditional military responsibilities. As such, there is the recognized need for highly educated officers. EMA awards a Bachelor’s Degree in military science on its successful graduates. The course of study covers the spectrum of basic military subjects to computer science.
As for military training, EMA exposes its cadets to a wide range of military oriented training that is geared to prepare them for the rigors of combat. This includes strategic planning, parachute training, and more. Students are considered cadets while in school, and conform to a military hierarchy that is similar to other military-oriented institutions.
It should be noted that a military career is a very viable means for individuals who come from low-to-medium income/social status families to attain positions of power and influence in Egypt. Late president Anwar Sadat, a graduate of EMA, is a perfect example. His background was very modest yet, as a result of his training at EMA (and a fair amount of political intrigue to be sure), he was able to rise to the highest office in Egypt. The Egyptian Military Academy continues to provide Egypt with a cadre of highly educated and professional officers.
1. Commando Training Centre (Britain)
It’s impossible to do a list of this nature and not include the British. Without question, Great Britain has a long and distinguished military tradition that expands centuries. In addition, many of the military traditions and styles that many nations around the world employ, have an origin that can be traced back to British military customs. With a purpose of instilling honor and professional military leadership, the British service academies produce some of the highest quality military officers in the world.
Each branch component of the British armed forces maintains an academy to train officers: the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst (Royal Army), the Commando Training Centre (Royal Marines), the Britannia Royal Naval College, and the Royal Air Force College in Cranwell. While all of these academies certainly perform their stated missions in an admirable fashion, this spot on the list will concentrate on the prestigious, and hardcore, Commando Training Centre.
I’ve said it before, and I will state it again – Marines are Marines, regardless of the color of their flag. By this, I mean that there is a special spirit of determination, honor and duty that comes with being a Marine that is difficult to quantify, or even articulate. Nevertheless, Marines the world over count themselves as among the elite forces that bear arms. Such is the case with the British Royal Marines (commonly referred to as Commandos), and the men that lead them.
The Commando Training Center Royal Marines (CTCRM), located at Lympstone, Great Britain, is responsible for the selection and training of both enlisted and officer candidates seeking entry into the Corps of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines. The modern institution was established in 1939, though the Royal Marines themselves trace their origins back as far 1664. Getting to this point, however, is not assured, as potential candidates must first successfully complete either the grueling Potential Royal Marine Course (for enlisted), or the Potential Officers Course. This initial screening insures that candidates are physically and mentally undergo commando training.
Upon successful selection to attend CTCRM, both officers and enlisted recruits are subjected to the longest infantry training regime among all the member nations of NATO – an incredible 32 weeks for enlisted, and 15 months for officers. Suffice to say, students are subjected to every facet of infantry training that can be expected of a commando. Candidates who attend CTCRM will not receive any degrees. Instead, upon graduation they will receive the coveted green beret (and a commission for officer candidates), and be counted among the brotherhood of Marines.
Life at the CTCRM is hard. Students are subjected to an incredibly regimented, and physically demanding, course of training. The stress and expectation is maintained at a high tempo (almost boot camp style), and students must maintain high military standards and bearing at all times. Students reside in open barracks, with little free time during their stay at CTCRM. In addition to all of this, officer candidates will be exposed to a multitude of leadership courses, and learn the fine points of being a Royal Marine Officer.
Without a doubt, British Royal Marines are among the most highly trained and motivated fighting men to be found – anywhere. It is with due respect that I note that, while U.S. Marines wear the Eagle, Globe and Anchor insignia that displays the western hemisphere, the Royal Marine’s Lion, Globe and Anchor bears the visage of the eastern hemisphere. Once a Marine, Always a Marine. Oorah!