Initial Officer Training & Education: 1 vs 3 Years, Britain & Sweden

Research Paper Title

Initial Officer Training and Education in the British Army.


Nations, their armed forces and the organisations, structures and processes which their armed forces employ all differ. They may have similarities: for example, all armies tend to have corporals, captains and colonels. However, underneath such relatively superficial similarities, the differences may be significant. Those differences may not be organisational and procedural but cultural, and therefore perhaps less obvious.

Initial officer training in the Swedish Armed Forces takes three years; in the British Army, one year. This obvious difference has attracted attention. This paper was commissioned in order to allow the Swedish Ministry of Defence to understand the British system. It was written following initial research, a seminar in Sweden and then further research by the author. It incorporates feedback to issues raised during that seminar.

Although the initial requirement was to describe the initial training and education of British Army officers, two major secondary questions arose. The first was why British initial officer training is so short, by Swedish standards. The second was to understand why and how the British Army recruits and employs graduate officers.

This paper first describes the historical and social background to current British practice. It then considers the qualitative and quantitative requirement for army officers before describing the officer entrants, the process of officer training and education, summarising and concluding.

The Author makes no conscious attempt to support the British Army’s current practice. His own perspective is to be sceptical as to whether current systems and processes are as good as they might be. He has tried to deploy his scepticism as objectivity, as far as that is possible to an observer who is (to some extent) a product of the system. He also makes no recommendation here. All armed forces differ; it is for the Swedish Armed Forces to consider the evidence and make decisions which will affect their own officer corps.


Initial Officer Training & Education in the British Army (Starr, 2014)


Starr, J. (2014) Initial Officer Training and Education in the British Army. Available from World Wide Web: [Accessed: 27 May, 2015].


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.