College encompasses land, air and marine forces
College is ready to absorb more trainees after conscription became effective
KUWAIT: Graduating men ready to defend their country is the goal of the Ali Al-Sabah Military College, one of the oldest colleges in the region. It was founded in 1968 as the Military College and the first batch of cadets graduated in 1970, and since then a batch graduates every year. Due to the Iraqi invasion in 1990, the college stopped functioning and reopened again in 1993 after it was rebuilt. In 1997, it was renamed after the late Ali Al-Sabah, who was the son of former Amir Sabah the 12th. He was one of the first students of the college and ranked first among his batch.
Kuwait Times toured the college to observe cadets training and learning. Although the temperature was above 40 degrees Celsius at 11:00 am, the cadets were training outdoors, sitting on the ground taking instructions from the trainers. Meanwhile, another batch of students was undergoing a test.
Ali Al-Sabah Military College encompasses three forces – land, air and marine. “The main one is the land force, with two study programs for students depending on their background,” College Commander Maj Gen Staff Bader Al-Awadhi told Kuwait Times. “University graduates study for only a year, while high school graduates study for three years. But starting from this year (2017), we only accept university graduates for the land force. For the air force, high school and diploma graduates can apply, and this section was only set up last year. For the marine force, high school graduates can only apply if they have studied in the science stream.”
Students undergo different types of athletic trainings to be fit to face any obstacle. They get trained to use various types of light weapons. Furthermore, they receive training on reading maps and using a compass, in addition to modern navigation systems. They learn how to deal with explosive materials and weapons of mass destruction. Beside these trainings, they also learn academic subjects such as English, administrative sciences, mathematics, psychology and computer science.
“All the students of the marine force study abroad. Some air force students study here in Kuwait, while others study abroad. The students train in GCC countries, some Arab countries, and in Europe. High school graduates study between three-and-a-half to four years for the marine and air forces, whether in Kuwait or abroad. They then obtain a bachelor’s degree. Land force students only study in Kuwait at this college and graduate after one year,” Awadhi explained. The following are excerpts from the interview with Maj Gen Staff Bader Al-Awadhi:
Kuwait Times: How many students can be accepted annually at the academy?
Awadhi: The number depends on the demand of the General Army Headquarters, particularly the system administration (operations and planning department), which considers the needs of the army for the number of cadets. Currently, we have around 900 students of all grades studying at the college.
The age of high school graduates should be between 17 to 21 years. For diploma graduates, it is between 17 and 22, while for university graduates, it is up to 26 years. For masters’ graduates, it is up to 28.
KT: What are the conditions (health or others) that would disqualify a student to register?
Awadhi: The applicant should pass various tests before being accepted at the college. These include a health test. In order to pass the test, the applicant should be medically fit. If he is fit, then he takes an aptitude test to check if his body is fit in case something was not clear in the medical test, in addition to other simple procedures.
KT: Is the academy ready to accept all students after compulsory conscription takes effect this year?
Awadhi: The college has the capacity to welcome more students. The building is ready along with dorms and classrooms. But we focus on quality, not quantity. We prefer to have 25 students rather than 50 in one classroom. So we arrange our plans according to the number of trainers and academic staff.
Regarding conscription, applicants have to register at the Authority of National Service and Reserve, but they may not necessarily be accepted at our college. This year, about 400 men registered, while those who applied to enter the army were above 4,000. They are now waiting for the medical tests, which may be ready after approximately two weeks. Those who pass will take the aptitude test, and out of those who pass this test, we will accept the number required by the general headquarters.
KT: Does the academy train recruits from other countries – either for the Kuwait armed forces or for other armed forces?
Awadhi: We do have students from other countries including Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, Jordan, Yemen and others. Also, there are cadets from the National Guard and the National Assembly Guard.
KT: Are there joint training programs with other local authorities or countries?
Awadhi: Yes, we have signed cooperation protocols with various bodies. This includes the Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs, which sends some of its experts to teach our students Islamic subjects and advanced Arabic language. We also cooperate with the Youth Ministry and the Public Authority for Sports. We also cooperate with the Saad Al-Abdullah Academy for Security Sciences in exchanging teachers, in addition to cooperating with the Ministry of Interior, the National Guard and Kuwait University.
KT: Walk us through an average day of training? What are the routines?
Awadhi: The students wake up before sunrise and pray Fajr prayers, then attend a physical education class, which is about an hour of training. This is followed by breakfast. Then the cadet takes a shower and wears the uniform to undergo field training and attends classes till 1:30 pm. This is followed by lunch. He then gets some rest till 4:00 pm. Then comes intensive training, where the student improves on the shortcomings he faced during the day. He can choose field training, weapons training or physical education, in addition to compulsory studies for theoretical subjects to pass the exams. Then they have dinner and go to bed, as they have to sleep before 10:00 pm.
A new building for the Ali Al-Sabah Military College is being built. Last year, work started on the new building in Mutlaa, which will hopefully be completed by 2020. This will cover all training and entertainment needs of the college and is far from residential areas. It will be much bigger that the current college.
Kuwait Times also spoke to Assistant Commander Brig Khaled Al-Otaibi. The following are excerpts from the interview:
Kuwait Times: Is there a basic boot camp that all recruits go through? What does it consist of? Are recruits given choices for the areas or fields they wish to study?
Otaibi: Yes, the curriculum is different depending on the background of the student, whether he is a university or high school graduate. High school graduates have more theoretical studies, as university graduates have studied most of these subjects. We focus on political studies, as cadets should be educated in this field. At the end of the year, all cadets are evaluated to determine the field they like, so they can specialize in and later work in that field. It is better to do the thing they like rather than being placed in a field they don’t like.
KT: How will the academy adjust or change its program with the advent of compulsory conscription in Kuwait?
Otaibi: Currently, there are no conscription students here, as the law was only issued this year. But after we accept the new recruits, their program will be different. Their training will be easier and only between three weeks to six months long.
KT: What are the specialists’ fields and qualifications of the trainers?
Otaibi: They are all certified trainers with military licenses.
KT: Does the academy serve all branches of the Kuwait armed forces for training?
Otaibi: We supply cadets to all branches of the Kuwaiti army.
KT: What is the process for recruits once they complete the training? Where are the cadets employed after graduation?
Otaibi: In the Kuwaiti army or the academic field.
By Nawara Fattahova