President Paul Kagame on 23 July 2012 opened the new Rwanda Defence Force Command and Staff College at Nyakinama Military School, with the pioneer intake of 45 senior officers .
The Head of State said that the college had opened at a time of challenging regional situations which constantly pose none traditional security threats.
Kagame noted that knowledge that will be acquired at the new college should further equip RDF officers with the country’s consistent strategy of seeking solutions to challenges it faces.
“In the pursuit of the desired vision to have a professional, highly effective and constantly improving force, I believe that this training will equip you with the tools to respond appropriately to security challenges of our time and even anticipate problems of future,” Kagame told the officers.
He highlighted that the nature of the threats demands RDF to enhance and diversify defence capabilities and develop skills that can meet them.
The Head of State added that after the course, the officers will be required to go beyond their military obligations since there are other cross-cutting threats social or economical.
“This is because you bring to this course different experiences, and you come from diverse backgrounds after being selected on the basis of your high standards, personal integrity and discipline” he said.
President Kagame highlighted the importance of the professionalisation strategy of the RDF to meet the demands of the current operating environment.
He pointed out that the establishment of the first RDF Senior Command and Staff Course was a significant landmark achievement in the development of armed forces and it showed how far it had come over the last two decades.
Kagame urged the officers to uphold the values that have earned the Rwanda Defence Forces (RDF) respect wherever they go on international missions.
He noted that throughout its history, the RDF not only invested in numbers (armament, equipment and technology) but also engenders personal and collective values of clarity, purpose, competence, integrity, a sense of identity and ethical conduct.
The Head of State emphasised that the fact that most students at the college are players in Rwanda’s history, it is a big advantage to concentrate on building the army’s own doctrine and ethos.
“The originality of Rwandans is very unique. Even the modern development going on in Rwanda does not mean that the resourcefulness of the nation should be lost,” he said.
The President acknowledged those who took part in developing and accrediting the new course, particularly Fort Leavenworth College in the US, and the Joint Service and Command College.
Previously this course was undertaken outside the country by senior officers between the rank of Major and Colonel.
The 45 pioneer officers including 21 who have been undergoing a 13-week preparatory phase prior to this programme will be supported by over 20 military faculty staff.
The officers, drawn from various RDF Units, will undertake studies for 46 weeks. The course is structured in both academic and military modules.
The military modules are designed to give the officers the ability to operate in joint, combined and inter agency settings. They include leadership and management, policy and strategy, military history and conflict management, international relations and Africa’s political economy, influence and research studies
Defence Minister, Gen James Kabarebe welcomed the fact that the government will no longer have to incur high costs of sending its officers to attend the courses abroad.
He said that the college opens at a time when Rwanda is well positioned to meeting its mission to safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity, as well as participating in regional and international peace initiatives.
“The army has protected and defended the country’s image and performance in a multinational environment where the Rwandan troops operate and has ably demonstrated its capability as a responsible member of the global community,” he said.
Kabarebe added that the RDF has generated many officers who have done intermediate courses and are thus due for this level of training.
He emphasised the force has undertaken adverse roles, at home and abroad thus, the need to deploy competent and professional personnel to meet the requirement.
The college has both physical and digital libraries with initial capacity that is supported by nine academic staff from NUR. It is estimated that this will reduce paper work by over 60%.
Pursuant to this, RDF training managers conducted study visits to various military institutions in USA, UK, and Ghana to gather facts during the curriculum development process.
Experts including Lt Col Jeremy Sharpe from UK Defence Academy, Dr Andrew Stewart from Kings College London, Commander Chris Taylor and Aaron Clipps.They were satisfied thus recommending its immediate commencement.
The course is designed in three stages which are Foundation, Single Service and a joint Warfare.
It seeks to enhance the officers’ knowledge in the art and science of war and the strategic factors that shape international systems.
According to the Chief of Defence Staff, Lt. Gen Charles Kayonga, the course will Improve command and leadership skills and forge greater understanding of the concept of joint doctrine.
“This is a testimony of comprehensive training and education strategy for the officers and it will create awareness of changing roles of defence forces in support of national interest,” he said.
On his part the, Acting Commandant of the College, Brig Gen Jack Mupenzi, said senior commanders will develop the functions of command and staff at tactical and operation levels.
He said the college would admit officers from sister security organs including the National Police (RNP), National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) and officials from the Rwanda Correctional services (RCS), acknowledging that it would strengthen cooperation of the various security organs.”
He disclosed that preparations were in place to exchange students as well as teaching staff with other countries from the region and beyond.
The college is accredited to the National University of Rwanda (NUR) to offer masters degrees to qualified officers following a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed on June 18, 2012.
It is anticipated that RDF will reciprocate by providing lecturers in areas where the military has expertise.