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10 Best Military Academies From Around The World

As you will see, some of the world's biggest, most powerful military forces also have some of the best institutions to educate their up-and-coming leadership.

10. Pakistan Military Academy

Also known as PMA, the academy is Pakistan’s premiere accredited, federal service military school. It is located on the premises of the erstwhile PT and Mountaineering School of the British Army and later the site of the Royal Indian Army Service Corps. After the division of the old Indian Army Brigadier Francis Ingall became the first Commandant of the PMA. He fashioned the Pakistan Military Academy after Sandhurst (U.K.), Saint-Cyr (France and West Point (U.S.A.). He had the help of a number of old Indian Army officers who were transferred to the Pakistani Army, like Lieutenant Colonel Attiqur Rahman, Major S.G. Mehdi, fondly called ‘Killer Mehdi”. The academy imparts a four-year undergraduate program with subjects such as English, Military Geography, International Affairs, Islamic Studies, and Military, General & Social Science. Potential officers undergo grueling physical training to develop the combat qualities essential for the Pakistani armed forces. PMA’s educational philosophy is to maintain an environment where cadets develop courage, discipline, integrity, honor, dignity and patriotism. The Academy provides all sorts of knowledge required for officers in positions of authority. Notable alumni include General Rahimuddin Khan, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Parvez Musharraf, and General Ashfaque Parvez Kayani, a former Chief of Army Staff.

9. National Defense Academy, India

In 1941, a grateful Sudanese government gifted GBP 100,000 to Lord Linlithgow, the Governor General of India in recognition of the sacrifices of Indian troops in the East African Campaign of World War II. After the war Commander-in-Chief of the Indian Army, Field Marshall Claude Auchinlek led a committee that studied various military academies around the world. In its report to the Government of India in 1946, it recommended the establishment of a Joint Services Military Academy modeled on the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. Following partition, the Indian government decided to use India’s share of Sudan’s gift (GBP 70,000), to partly cover the cost of constructing the National Defense Academy (NDA) at Dehradun, capital of Uttarakhand state. NDA offers a residential undergraduate program that teaches academics, Military Studies, Military History & Geography, Human Rights and Laws of Armed Conflict. The vision statement of NDA seeks to produce leaders “...equipped with the mental, moral and physical attributes required to cope with the challenges of the future battlefield and capable of leading troops to victory in conventional, non-conventional and asymmetrical conflicts. Graduates then go for further training in accredited schools of their chosen military wing. Though NDA has produced many outstanding soldiers and officers, the most notable is Rakesh Sharma, India’s first cosmonaut.

8. Evelpidon Hellenic Military Academy, Greece

The Officer cadet school of the Greek Army, the Evelpidon Military Academy was founded in 1828 by Ionnis Kapodistrias, the first Governor of modern Greece. It was created to raise officers for all arms of the Hellenic Army (Infantry, Armor, Artillery, Engineering and Aviation. The institution also provides manpower for the Technical, Transport & Supply and the Ordnance Corps. 1982, the Academy was permanently relocated to Vari, an Athenian suburb. The term Evelpides literally means ‘bearers of high hopes’ as mentioned by the historian Thucydides in his History of the Peloponnesian War: The Corinthians describe their adversaries, the Athenians as ‘adventurous beyond their power, daring beyond their judgement and bearers of high hopes when in danger’. Subjects include military and academic courses with day and night field training. Graduates of the Academy go on to be not just distinguished army officers but also high-ranking scientists and authors. The Academy gave Greece its first civil engineers and professors of Physics and Mathematics. The first Hellenic Navy and Air force officers of the Balkan Wars were also graduates of the Evelpides Academy.

7. South African Military Academy

The academy was founded in 1950 under the University of Pretoria and what is now the South African Army College in present-day Thaba Tswane. It was created as the South African version of the military academy system of the United States in order to develop army officers who could meet the challenges of modern warfare. The Academy became an independent all-service military institution in 1953 under the South Africa Defense Force based out of Saldanha. The Academy awards Military Bachelor degrees in Arts, Science and Commerce. Postgraduate degrees at the master’s and doctorate levels are also offered. The South African Border War started increased the demand for junior officers. The Defense Ministry decided that applicants to the Academy should be prequalified in their respective services before gaining admission to the Academy. Hence from 1976, junior officers did not have to undergo the degree course at the Academy. However, the course remained an option for anyone wishing to pursue a university degree. The present South Africa military was reconstituted after South Africa’s first post-apartheid elections and the establishment of a new constitution. The name of the country’s armed forces also changed to South African National Defense Force (SANDF).

6. National Defense Academy of Japan

The National Defense Academy of Japan is the country’s integrated educational institution to train Army, Navy and Air Force cadets. The four-year course is designed to train students intellectually, physically and psychologically to grow into the future leaders of Japan’s Self Defense Forces (JSDF). After graduation, students undergo further training at officer schools of all three military wings of JSDF. The Academy is located in Yokosuka in Kanagawa, close to the former Imperial Japanese Army Academy. Originally established in 1952 as the National Safety Academy, it became the National Defense Academy two years later when the armed forces got their present name, JSDF. In the pre-war period, the Japanese Imperial Navy and Army had two separate academies. The two wings were fused into one to counter sectionalism and inter-services rivalry. The main course students are selected from recent civilian high school graduates. Those who gain admission are treated as employees of the Ministry of Defense and are paid a regular salary. The academy also offers master’s and doctoral courses for deserving candidates. Apart from producing outstanding army officers who have gone on to helm Japan’s armed forces, the Academy has given Japan senior politicians, alumni Kimiya Yui and Satoshi Morimoto went on to become an astronaut and academic scholar respectively. In her 2010 memoirs, Extraordinary, Ordinary People, Condoleezza Rice “had a hard time adjusting to the rigid hierarchy” as a visiting professor at the Academy.

5. General Staff Academy, Russia

First known as the Imperial Military Academy, the institution was established in 1832 in St. Petersburg. It had a geodesic wing and offered higher military education to the Tsar’s officers and land surveyors. It admitted officers from all military wings up to the rank of stabs captain and offered two principal courses and an additional one, and those who graduated from the latter joined the General Staff. Alumni had the right-of-promotion over others. The Academy employed some of the best military tacticians and theoreticians of its time like Alexei Bajov, Heinrich Leer, Nikolai Medem and Alexander Myshlayevsky to name a few. Under them, the Academy significantly contributed to military theory. In 1918, the General Staff Academy became the Red Army Military Academy. In 1921, what remained of the General Staff Academy was disbanded. The name was reintroduced when the Voroshilov Military Academy of the USSR Army General Staff was founded. Today, it is known as the Military Academy of the General Staff of the Armed forces of Russia. Among the Academy’s most famous alumni were Abdolhossein Teymourtash, Fyodor Radetsky, Nikolai Stoletov, and Mikhai Skobelev. Many of the alumni would become enmeshed in the political struggles of the region and were either prosecuted or rewarded according to which side they were affiliated with.

4. PLA National Defense University, China

This institution is a national university in Beijing under the leadership of the Central Committee of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). It was formed in 1985 with the merger of the PLA Military Academy, PLA Logistics Academy and PLA Political Academy. The PLA National Defense University is China’s foremost institute for military education. It is claimed as being China’s answer to West Point. The PLA NDU is committed to joint education for natural security, policy making for strategic issues and defense, mutual understanding and cooperation between PLA and other armed forces. The institution traces its origins through to the Red Army University in Yanan, Shanxi province in 1936 and back to the Red Army Training Brigade founded by Chairman Mao at the Jinganshan Revolutionary Base in 1927. Curriculum includes Joint Command and Staff Course, National Defense Course and Advanced Refresher Course. Advanced studies teach the Higher Command Course and Defence Studies. The Postgraduate school enrolls officers from the ranks of Captain, Lieutenant, Senior Colonel and Captain of the PLA. It also awards commanding officers and research fellows with a M.A. or PhD. Since the major merger in 1985, PLA NDU has produced more than 10,000 senior professionals in various walks of life. Over 800 foreign mid-career to senior military professionals have participated in its courses. All present field commanders and PLA service chiefs are graduates of the University.

3. Special Military School of Saint-Cyr, France

Founded by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1803 at Fontainebleau, L’Ecole Speciale Military de Saint-Cyr is the national military academy of France. Five years later Napoleon moved the institution to Saint-Cyr-l’Ecole near Versailles on the site of a 17th Century school established by the wife of Louis XIV. However, the buildings were destroyed in World War II and the academy was transferred to Coetquidan, Brittany after war but the name was retained because of its popularity. During the 19th Century and the early decades of the 20th Century, the Saint-Cyr school only prepared officers and staff for infantry and cavalry. However, after the Second World War, it started training engineers, technical officers and artillerymen. Women were admitted to the academy only as late as 1983. Today, Saint-Cyr offered a three-year educational program with master’s degrees in management, engineering and international relations, and graduates become first lieutenants in the French army. Both Philippe Petain and Henri Giraud were trained at Saint-Cyr. Charles de Gaulle graduated with honors in 1911 and taught military history at the institute after World War I.

2. RAF College Cranwell, United Kingdom

Until 1915, the U.K.'s Air Force operated from the Royal Navy air training center when the Royal Naval Air Service was separated from the Royal Flying Corps. A new flying training academy was established at Cranwell for the Royal Navy under Commodore Godfrey Paine. After the formation of the Royal Air Force in 1918, Cranwell became a Royal Air Force institution for the remainder of World War I. After cessation of hostilities, Chief of Air Staff, Sir Hugh Trenchard wanted to retain the Royal Air force as an independent service. Cranwell was just the right place to provide basic flying training, intellectual education and to purposefully shape future leaders of the RAF. As Sir Trenchard told his biographer, “"Marooned in the wilderness, cut off from pastimes they could not organize for themselves, the cadets would find life cheaper, healthier and more wholesome." RAF College Cranwell was the world’s first air academy when opened in 1919. The Royal Air Force education and training school provides initial training to RAF personnel who want to be commissioned officers. The College is also responsible for all RAF recruitment activities. Most RAF officers complete a 32-week course in transforming leadership, air power studies (including ethics). Notable alumni include Princes Charles and William as well as several members of Arabian nobility.

1. United States Military Academy (West Point)

The role of West Point in U.S. Defense goes back to the America Revolutionary War of Independence when both the British and U.S. military leaders realized the strategic importance of the high plateau on the west bank of the Hudson River. As a result, General George Washington converted West point into a fortified military command. After independence, several important people including Washington and John Adams felt the need to eliminate the new nation’s military reliance on foreign technicians and soldiers. The need of the hour was to create an American institution devoted to the science and arts of warfare. Subsequently in 1802, President Thomas signed the legislation to establish the United States Military Academy. The choice of West Point as the location was a foregone conclusion. West Point’s purpose is to develop character in the cadets who will provide selfless service to the Army and nation. The Academy provides a comprehensive yet balanced curriculum to impart the knowledge, skills and attributes necessary to become sophisticated fighters and address any challenges they will face professionally and personally. After graduation, cadets are commissioned as second lieutenants in the United States Army. A de facto motto of West Point is “Much of the history we teach was made by people we taught”. Sure enough, the Academy has produced many people who have shaped American and world history. West Point has a long list of illustrious graduates including two Presidents, Ulysses S. Grant and Dwight D. Eisenhower. Other Civil generals include Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson. Many notable World War II generals were alumni of West Point, including Douglas Mac Arthur, George S. Patton, Omar Bradley and Henry H. Arnold.

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