Military education – a continuous process of learning and skills acquisition

Interview – Colonel Damir Stručić: The role of military education is to ensure conditions for the generation and development of human resources with the aim to enhance the necessary defence and other capabilities through the homeland security system

The Military Schools Centre “Petar Zrinski” has successfully concluded another education cycle. We discussed the role of the Centre, the students’ achievements and the challenges of military education today with the Head of the Centre – Colonel Damir Stručić.

What are the role and the responsibility of the Military Schools Centre “Petar Zrinski” of the Croatian Defence Academy “Dr. Franjo Tuđman”?

The Military Schools Centre “Petar Zrinski” of the Croatian Defence Academy “Dr. Franjo Tuđman” exercises a mission and vision stemming from the security policy of the Republic of Croatia and contributing to international efforts towards peace and trust in the region and the world. 

Considering the potential threats, challenges and risks in highly dynamic and complex circumstances, the need arises for continuous generation of human potential to develop the national security policy and to respond to predicted and ongoing changes as needed. Through strategic concepts, comprehensive and co-ordinated operation within the international processes the Republic of Croatia has attained a high level of security and provided the conditions for balanced development of the society and of the state. The development of the national identity, international reputation and influence of the Republic of Croatia as a member of the EU, the UN, NATO and other international and regional organisations through the education of officers, NCOs and enlisted soldiers, ensures the conditions for national interests while respecting the values defined by the Constitution. 

Placing a focus on the development and exercise of strong and active defence to protect the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the Republic of Croatia as a main prerequisite for the survival of the state and its functions”, the role of military education is to ensure conditions for the generation and development of human resources with the aim to enhance the necessary defence and other capabilities through the homeland security system.

The role of military training is to ensure conditions for the generation and development of human potential with the aim of strengthening the necessary defence and other capabilities through the homeland security system.

Although the year 2020 has been hard for members of the Croatian Armed Forces, the new cycle of education at the Croatian Defence Academy “Dr. Franjo Tuđman” has successfully concluded. What education programmes were administered, for how many students and how many foreign participants?  

Despite the unpredicted COVID -19 pandemic, the timely undertaken systematic and supervised measures implementing  the recommendations of the Military Medical Centre of the Croatian  Armed Forces  and of the Civil Protection Headquarters of the Ministry of the Interior , “defended“ the students of the sequential education programmes of the Croatian Defence Academy “Dr. Franjo Tuđman”.

Swift and active adaptation by the Croatian Defence Academy units, the Military Schools Centre included, soon after the outbreak of the pandemic, enabled a timely response through new organisation of living and studying. One of the goals was the successful continuation of on-line education via e-learning, i. e. through the use of IT technologies.

Although the pandemic prevention measures were highly restrictive, thanks to the systematic organisation the Croatian Defence Academy and the Military Schools Centre have maintained an effective system of planning, implementation and monitoring of all processes regardless of the limitations and concrete risks, implementing all ordered, recommended and self-implied measures for the protection of the cadets, students and of the Academy and the Military School Centre staff.

The systematic approach has enabled the completion of the annual education plan with important cost savings, the academic year was not disrupted and the Ministry of Defence and the Croatian Armed Forces will be manned by the required trained personnel.  

The Croatian Defence Academy administers four-level sequential education of NCOs and of officers, tailored to the needs of the organisation units – the services, branches, specialties and functional areas of the Croatian Armed Forces.

The recent earthquake also impacted the life and work of the human resources of the Croatian Armed Forces as the primary asset, and also the teaching processes which were administered online.  The teams caught on duty by the earthquake undertook the first repair of the damage inflicted on the infrastructure in the Barracks “Petar Zrinski”, housing the Croatian Defence Academy. The Military Schools Centre “Petar Zrinski” comprises the Cadet Battalion, with 460 cadets some of whom were accommodated in the accommodation facilities in the Barracks, who were taken care of throughout the period.

Despite the challenges occurring during the year, as many as 235 officer students successfully completed various education programmes, of whom 15 students from partner countries, and 448 NCOs, nine of whom from the partner countries.  

As many as 177 students graduated from the sequential officer and NCO education programmes –   

the 22nd generation of the “Ban Josip Jelačić” War School, the 28th generation of the Inter-service Command and Staff School “Blago Zadro”, the 19th generation of Basic Officer Education and 23rd generation of the Basic Officer School for the Croatian Air Force of the Officer School “Andrija Matijaš Pauk”, and the 18th generation of the Senior NCO Education of the NCO School “Damir Tomljanović Gavran”.

Combined with functional courses administered for 111 students (24 students from the partner countries), gives an impressive figure of 794 participants educated and trained in the Academy.

How would you evaluate the students’ achievements?

Military education is a lasting process of acquiring military knowledge, skills and abilities in the course of education, training and other training frameworks and is an integral part of the professional development of military personnel. In addition to the enhancement of the individual capabilities and evaluation of their outcome

During the sequential training the students’ qualities and achievements are monitored and measured and combined into the final ratings. 

In addition to improving the abilities of each participant and evaluating his / her performance, the achievement of the goals of the organizational units from which the participants come is directly supported, thus supporting the CAF mission as a whole, as well as the goals of the mentioned partner countries.

The achievements have to be recognised and commended, and insist on constantly striving for better; knowledge and skills are highly important in the projections of the strategic development of the Croatian Armed Forces. The concept of life-long learning, which encourages people individual to continue learning through various programmes is a foundation for efficient operation of individuals within defence systems.

What challenges is military education faced with?

The system of education and training directly affects realisation of key operational capabilities of the Croatian Armed Forces for the fulfilment of their missions and tasks. One of the steps is the transformation of the Croatian Military Academy “Dr. Franjo Tuđman” into the Defence and Security University, and the Croatian Armed Forces will develop as an integral part of the Croatian society, as recently demonstrated through the engagement and support in the wake of floods, fires, the current pandemic, the recent earthquake in Zagreb and many other community activities.

The present and future members of the Croatian Armed Forces are entitled to quality, competitive and sustainable  education and training system, taking into account potential threats, challenges and risks in extremely dynamic and complex circumstances that will need to be addressed efficiently and in a timely manner. This raises the need for the continuous creation of human potential that will participate in the development of national security policy in accordance with economic and economic possibilities.

With the development of new concepts, priorities and contents will be defined that will follow the current technologies and requirements of the modern environment.

The rapid progress of science and technology is a global challenge for military education.  The military education has to evolve to follow the increasing dynamics of changes and adaptations, and will have to be accompanied by increasing and faster dynamics of changes and adjustments, and thus the engagement of professional and competent personnel as the bearers of these changes. In addition, it is necessary to provide a quality assurance system, which will enable the integration of different evaluation procedures in the function of achieving high quality for the purpose of better training outcomes.

Croatian version:

Vojna izobrazba trajan je proces usvajanja znanja i vještina