Royal College of Defence Studies

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Royal College Building, Seaford House

The Royal College of Defence Studies is part of the UK Defence Academy. It was founded in 1927 as the Imperial Defence College and was chiefly concerned with defending the British Empire. Today it defines its mission as to

"Develop leaders and international strategists"[1]

I also states it aims:

"To prepare senior officers and officials of the United Kingdom and other countries and future leaders from the private and public sectors for high responsibilities in their respective organisations, by developing their analytical powers, knowledge of defence and international security, and strategic vision"[2].

The College runs one course a year, from January to December. Each course is attended by a maximum of 88 Members, around one-third from UK and two-thirds from overseas. Seventy-five per cent are military officers and the remaining 25 per cent are civil servants, diplomats, police officers and representatives from the private sector[3].


  • 1922 Winston Churchill, Secretary of State for the colonies, presides over a cabinet committe who recommend the creation of the college
  • 1927 College is founded as the Imperial Defence College, chiefly concerned with defence of the Empire, with 25 Members drawn from the UK, Australia, Canada and New Zealand.
  • 1946 College reopened at Seaford House, Members from the United States attended the course for the first time.
  • 1970 Renamed, The Royal College of Defence Studies in 1970. The Course has been widened to include Members from all parts of the world, over 40 different countries each year, including in recent years China, Ukraine, India, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, Poland, Pakistan and Afganistan[4].


A BBC Panorama programme found that Perence Shiri, who led the force that committed the most serious crimes against humanity in Zimbabwe, took up a place at The Royal College of Defence Studies. Commander of the 5th Brigade, Shiri led the force that claimed thousands of civilian lives in Matabeleland between 1983 and 1984[5].

Links with Pinochet

A warm welcome, please, to 12 high-ranking Chilean officers, led by Brigadier General Navarrete, who are visiting Britain as the government's guests. Loyal servants of President Pinochet, they were given a party earlier this week by Lord Trefgarne, junior Armed Forces Minister. The top brass are all attending the Chilean National Academy of Political and Strategic Studies and, in addition to visiting the Civil Service College and the Royal College of Defence Studies, are calling in on various British companies.[6]

US Links

Ending a five-day European tour to win support for President Reagan's Star Wars anti-missile system, Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger today delivered a confidential address to specialists at the Royal College of Defense Studies. No details of Weinberger's speech to about 80 military and diplomatic officials were immediately dis-closed. Only its title was revealed: 'U.S. Strategic Thought.'[7]

Links with India

Over the years, India's military chiefs have modernized their forces and bought much advanced military hardware from a number of Western powers as well as the Soviet Union. Although the biggest supplier of armaments to New Delhi is Moscow, military experts here say the two countries do not have reciprocal train-ing programs. India, however, still maintains links with Britain and regularly sends officers to the Royal College of Defense Studies.[8]



Domkat Yah Bali, Minister of Defence and chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff in the government of military dictator Ibrahim Babangida in 1985 and Minister of Defence under Buhari. trained at the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst, in 1962-63, and completed a gunners' course on Salisbury Plain. He later returned to the UK for courses at Camberley and the Royal College of Defence Studies.[9] | Robert E. Barbour, of Tennessee, a career member of the US Senior Foreign Service, former Ambassador to the Republic of Suriname. 'attended the Royal College of Defence Studies in London from 1972 to 1973'.[10] | Alastair Buchan 1st civilian Commandant of Royal Coll of Defense Studies[11] | Martin Kenneth Ewans, member of the 'senior directing staff' 1977-1983 and 'veteran British diplomat and Foreign Office official'[12] |


Sir David Fraser, Commandant 1979[13] | Tim Garden, former Commander[14] | Admiral Sir David Hallifax, Commandant, Royal College of Defence Studies, 1986 [15]


P N Marsden appointed Rear-Admiral and Senior Naval Member of the Directing Staff Royal College of Defence Studies in July 1985.[16] | Robert Moss, Visiting Lecturer 1971-80 | Pervez Musharraf, Was trained at the college and is a "regular visitor"[17] |


John Stalker For most of 1983 he attended the Royal College of Defence Studies in London[18] | Alan Wrigley, head of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation from 1985, joined the Austalian Defence Department in 1975 and attended the Royal College of Defence Studies in London in 1978.[19]


  1. The Royal College of Defence Studies, The RCDS Mission is, Defence Academy of the United Kingdom, Accessed 02-June-2009
  2. The Royal College of Defence Studies, College Mission, Defence Academy of the United Kingdom, Accessed 02-June-2009
  3. The Royal College of Defence Studies, About Us, Defence Academy of the United Kingdom, Accessed 02-June-2009
  4. The Royal College of Defence Studies, History, Defence Academy of the United Kingdom, Accessed 02-June-2009
  5. BBC News, British Invitation to Mugabe's Butcher, Panorama, Accessed 02-June-2009
  6. The Guardian (London), June 27, 1985 Guardian Diary / Pinochet's dozen, BYLINE: By ALAN RUSBRIDGER
  7. United Press International, February 12, 1985, Tuesday, PM cycle, SECTION: International
  8. The New York Times, June 14, 1984, Thursday, Late City Final Edition, STRIFE TEST'S INDIAN ARMY'S COHESION, BYLINE: By SANJOY HAZARIKA, SECTION: Section A; Page 10, Column 4; Foreign Desk
  9. The Guardian (London) September 13, 1985 Special Report on Nigeria (2): Who's who since the coup / Leader-ship profiles
  10. Public Papers of the Presidents, July 25, 1984, United States Ambassador to Suriname, CITE: 20 Weekly Comp. Pres. Doc. 1072
  11. NEW YORK TIMES February 7, 1976, Saturday, SECTION: Page 24, Column 4
  12. The Associated Press, March 15, 1983, Tuesday, AM cycle, SECTION: International News,DATELINE: LONDON
  13. Xinhua General News Service SEPTEMBER 20, 1979, THURSDAY, british military delegation feted in beijing, DATELINE: beijing, september 19 ; Item No: 091944
  14. Jonathon Fryer, Air Marshal Lord Garden Obituary, The Guardian, 14-August-2007, Accessed 01-June-2009
  15. The Guardian (London) September 3, 1986 Birthdays
  16. The Times (London) July 8 1985, Monday Appointments in the Forces SECTION: Issue 62184.
  17. Royal College of Defence Studies,Visit to RCDS of His Excellency President Pervez Musharraf, Defence Academy of the United Kingdom, Accessed 02-June-2009
  18. The Guardian (London) June 16, 1986 RUC tried to stop Stalker's questions about senior officers / Investi-gation into Ulster Police's alleged 'shoot to kill policy' BYLINE: By PETER MURTAGH