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 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 Prussian Military Academy. Prussian defeats by 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 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.
- 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. Pinks and whites referred to the color coding of course material where problems and information for use of students was printed on standard white sheets of papers while material intended for use by directing staff (which often contained suggested solutions/answers) was produced on pink sheets. This practice originates from staff colleges of British origins. The tradition survives across several Commonwealth staff colleges such as the Command and Staff College, Quetta.
The following is an incomplete list of staff colleges, by continent by country:
- Defense Staff College, Nairobi
- Escola de Comando e Estado-Maior do Exército
- Escola de Aperfeiçoamento de Oficiais
- Escola de Aperfeiçoamento de Sargentos das Armas
- Escola de Instrução Especializada
- Escola de Guerra Naval
- Escola de Comando e Estado Maior da Aeronáutica
- Escola de Aperfeiçoamento de Oficiais da Aeronáutica
United States of America
- U.S. Army War College (Carlisle Barracks, PA
- Command and General Staff College, Fort Leavenworth, KS
- School for Command Preparation
- School of Advanced Military Studies
- Command and General Staff School
- School for Advanced Leadership and Tactics
- U.S. Army Warrant Officer Career College, Fort Rucker, AL
- Defence Services Command And Staff College Mirpur
- People's Liberation Army National Defense University
- Nanjing PLA Army Command College
- Shijiazhuang PLA Army Command College
- PLA Naval Command College
- PLA Air Force Command College
- PLA Artillery Command College
- Second Artillery Corps Command College
- Naval War College
- National Armed Forces Command and General Staff College
- Army Command and General Staff College
- Naval Command and General Staff College
- Air Force Command and General Staff College
- Saudi Armed Forces Command and Staff College
Taiwan (Republic of China)
- National Defense University
- Army Command and Staff College
- Naval Command and Staff College
- Air Command and Staff College
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.
- Istituto di Studi Militari Marittimi, The Naval War College located within the Arsenale Marittimo in Venice.
- Istituto di Scienze Militari Aeronautiche, The Aeronautics and Defence Science Institute located in Florence.
- Instituto de Estudos Superiores Militares ("Higher Military Studies Institute"), Portuguese Armed Forces Joint Command and Staff College. Created in 2005 by the fusion of the former three separate Army, Navy and Air Force staff colleges
- Instituto da Defesa Nacional ("National Defense Institute"), Ministry of Defense college for National and International Security policy, created in 1967.
- Armed Forces College AFC (Luzern)
- Defence Academy of the United Kingdom (Shrivenham)
- Joint Services Command and Staff College for officers (OF2 to OF6) and Warrant Officers (Shrivenham)
- Royal College of Defence Studies for officers (OF6 to OF7) and civilians (London)
- the Centre for Defence and Strategic Studies (CDSS), Weston Creek,
- the Australian Command and Staff College (ACSC), Weston Creek, and
- the Australian Defence Force Academy (ADFA).
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:
- Martin Van Crefeld, The Training of Officers, from military professionalism to irrelevance. Free Press, 1990.
- The Naval War College Monterey is a satellite office of the United States Naval War College, College of Distance Education (CDE) located on campus at the Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) in Monterey, California. NPS itself is not a NWC school and is not a Staff College.