§ Mr. Ramsden
asked the Minister of State for Defence whether, in view of the continuing short fall of suitable applicants for the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst, he will review the existing arrangements for officer cadet training in the Army; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. G. Johnson Smith
We have completed a thorough review and have decided upon certain changes to encourage candidates of high quality to present themselves in the numbers required.
We intend to give both Regular and short-service officers about six months' initial military training at Sandhurst which will develop the qualities of leadership and provide the basic knowledge which all young officers need. At the end of this course all who qualify will be commissioned.
Regular officers will then undergo a further period of training of about the same length, mainly in academic fields relevant to their careers. This will be the first step in a continuing educational process leading to the Staff College and beyond. Holders of short-service commissions who are later selected for Regular commissions will be required to return to Sandhurst for this academic instruction as a necessary qualification for a Regular career.
The Army also intends to continue to recruit its full share of university graduates; to award university cadet-ships; and to provide opportunities to prepare for university degree courses 89W and to acquire in-Service degrees. University entrants will attend a shortened version of the new Sandhurst course.
The changes will remove the present anomalous variations between the training of various categories of entrant. They will provide an academic training at Sandhurst which will be stimulating and relevant and will lay a sound foundation for continuing educational and professional development. They will encourage young officers by enabling them at the earliest possible moment to exercise the responsibilities which attracted them to an Army career.
The collocation of the Officer Cadet School, Mons, with the Royal Military Academy later this year will provide a convenient opportunity to introduce these changes.