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The Command and Staff School

The Command and Staff School

Located within The Military College, The Command and Staff School is the Senior School of the Irish Defence Forces. It supports the professional development of all Senior Officers of the Defence Forces through the provision of tailored educational courses. These courses focus on the development of senior leaders who can apply critical thought processes and rational decision making to problem solving within the complex military, economic, informational and diplomatic environments in which they may find themselves deployed. The intention is to enable Senior Officers to plan and conduct operations across the full spectrum of military activities at the tactical, operational and strategic levels in both national and international environments.

The Command and Staff School has developed a strategic partnership with the National University of Ireland Maynooth (NUIM). This affiliation provides the academic support to the School in the form of a MA programme and lecture assistance in associated areas.

Strategic Vision

The Command & Staff School’s vision for the professional education of students calls for developing future Defence Forces senior leaders who are critical thinkers, rational decision-makers who pursue professional excellence and individuals who are capable of understanding and functioning in the complex military, economic, informational and diplomatic environment.

School Ethos and Educational Philosophy

The vision of the Command and Staff School can only be achieved if the environment, ambience and ethos of the school is conducive to study, learning, reflection and personal development. School staff set the tone and foster such a climate for all students. To uphold and develop this philosophy the school staff:

  • Create and maintain a harmonious atmosphere amongst themselves based on the highest standard of professional military ethics. To this end, co-operation and teamwork sit alongside initiative, independent thinking and self-reliance.
  • Maintain a professionally mature and supportive relationship with the student body so that each student is encouraged to contribute to the learning process through active participation. To this end school staff:
    • Appeal to and draw on the student's reasoning powers and abilities.
    • Encourage the development of creativity and imagination in the student.
    • Teach students the technique of identifying the essentials of a problem to enable them to arrive at logical conclusions or decisions with reasonable speed
    • Encourage and guide the student to develop his own character and the personal qualities necessary for self-improvement
    • Expose the student to training experiences that will develop the ability to deal with unexpected and stressful situations.
    • Foster an atmosphere that will assist in producing group cohesion and camaraderie.

Core Activities

The primary activity of The Command and Staff School is the conduct of the Senior Command & Staff Course (SC&S Cse). However, as required the Command and Staff school conducts a Strategic Leadership Course to meet the increasing demands of service both at home and overseas.

Senior Command & Staff Course

In accordance with Defence Forcer Regulations this “…course is designed to qualify officers of all service corps to hold the rank of Lieutenant Colonel and higher rank, to command formations of all components of the Defence Forces and to perform the higher staff work involved in the handling of such formations”. (DFR CS 3, Part 1, Para 6 (ii)).

The course duration, positioned as it is at postgraduate level studies, runs annually from September to June equating to one academic year. The desired end state is to have developed a mind that is flexible, enabling graduates to analyse and conceptualise in a military context, in order to make timely and logical decisions with enhanced effectiveness throughout the range of military environments, both at home and abroad. Central themes and threads run through all aspects of the SC&S Cse and the educational ethos seeks to expand and develop broad visions after extensive and systematic analysis. The SC&S Cse offers a Master’s Degree in Leadership Management and Defence Studies (MA LMDS). Now entering its ninth year, the MA LMDS remains a collaborative and dynamic venture between the Defence Forces and NUIM. The three pillars which support the course are:

  • The furtherance of excellence in the Officer’s profession
  • The use of the Military Decision Making Process to reach balanced outcomes
  • The further development of Critical Thinking among student.

Strategic Leadership Course

The Command and Staff School hosts and coordinates the Defence Forces Strategic Leadership Course. This course is specifically designed for the senior leaders of the Defence Forces and is tailored to meet the increasing demands they encounter both during home service and overseas. The course meets the objectives of broadening understanding in relation to the positioning of the Defence Forces in relation to global macro issues and the Irish national context within which we operate and receive our mandate. As with the SC&S Cse, Maynooth University offer valuable support and assistance and the completion of the course leads to the award of a Certificate in Strategic Leadership from NUIM.