This ten-month course is open to German and foreign participants, and is held in German. Throughout the course, German senior officers serve as mentors to support the international students. Apart from receiving military training, the participants gain insights into the political and economic structures and cultural characteristics of German society.
First and foremost, the course aims at facilitating the expansion of an international network at the highest levels of military command. In a joint decision, the Federal Ministry of Defence and the Federal Foreign Office determine which countries may send officers to Germany to attend this course.
The IGASOC is designed to prepare senior officers from non-NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) states for assignments in general or admiral staffs and/or to complement a general/admiral staff officer training they have previously undergone at home. It enables officers to perform tasks in higher commands, including particularly integrated headquarters, and in selected general/admiral staff assignments. For that purpose, IGASOC students are familiarised with the European security architecture and with the development of the European Union (EU), placing particular emphasis on the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP).
Headed by a Colonel (GS) in the General Staff, the course also conveys knowledge of the structures and functioning of the EU (European Union). Moreover, it serves the purpose of network building and developing/tightening the students’ bonds with Germany. German senior officers studying on the same course serve as mentors to support the international students.
In 1962, the Bundeswehr Command and Staff College began to train international officers from non-NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) states for general staff positions. Initially, only Army officers took part in the training, forming one syndicate of eleven international and five German students. Later, another syndicate for students from the Army was added.
In 1986, the training was extended alternately by either an Air Force syndicate or a Navy syndicate. Since 1995, the course has always comprised two Army syndicates, one Air Force syndicate and one Navy syndicate. They are each headed by an experienced Lieutenant Colonel (GS) in the General Staff or a Navy Commander, respectively.
Invitations to assign officers to the course are sent to the sending states following a joint decision by the Federal Ministry of Defence and the Federal Foreign Office. The sending states then select the students to be sent to Germany. The training of international officers takes place on the basis of a bilateral training agreement between Germany and the nation in question. Following 11 months of language training at the Federal Office of Languages in Hürth, the ten-month IGASOC begins in mid-August of each year. To this day, some 3,000 officers from over 120 nations have been trained on the IGASOC in Hamburg, with a quarter of them German students.
In German, IGASOC students are prepared for general/admiral staff tasks at the operational and tactical level across the entire task spectrum of the armed forces in national and international environments. The students are able to broaden their horizons by gaining, above all, personal impressions of a parliamentary army in a democracy, of the role model of the ‘citizen in uniform’, of mission command and of the concept of leadership development and civic education. In addition to specialist military training, the international students are also given a profound insight into German politics, culture, history and economy.
Today, many former IGASOC students occupy top positions in their home countries, showing that the training provided by the Command and Staff College is particularly important in promoting the Bundeswehr's standing in the world.
The training concept is rounded off by a sponsorship programme for the international students involving civilians from the Hamburg region, and by a close collaboration with the registered association called ‘Freundeskreis Ausbildung ausländischer Offiziere an der Führungsakademie der Bundeswehr e.V.’ (Foreign Officer Training Support Fellowship at the Bundeswehr Command and Staff College). The association supports the IGASOC both financially and by organising inspiring evening events and talks given by high-ranking officials from the areas of politics, business and science.