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Syria-Military Training

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In 1987 three military schools were training commissioned officers for the services: the Military Academy, the Naval Academy, and the Air Force Academy. Young men from eighteen to twenty-three could apply for admission to the school of their choice. Selections were made from those who passed the required entrance examination, were physically qualified, and were considered politically loyal. All three academies conducted a standard two-year course leading to a commission immediately on completion of the course.

The Military Academy, located at Homs, was founded by the French in 1933 and is the oldest and largest of the service institutions. It was primarily a school for training infantry officers. Graduates selected for the other services went on to additional specialized training at other army-operated specialist schools. Selected graduates were frequently sent for advanced training to military academies in the Soviet Union.

The Naval Academy, at Latakia, began operations in 1962 after the breakup of the union with Egypt and the recall of Syrian students attending the Egyptian Naval Academy. Its facilities and student body were limited, and it has produced only a handful of graduates each year.

The Air Force Academy was located at Nayrab Airbase, near Aleppo. It was established in 1960 and took over the training of air officers, who were formerly sent abroad for schooling, usually to Britain, France, or Egypt. The curriculum provided instruction in theoretical, technical, and scientific subjects and included basic flight training. The academy has trained technical officers as well as pilots. For training in advanced jet aircraft, however, pilots have been sent to Soviet or East European flight schools. Technical graduates have generally attended Soviet schools for advanced technical training, but since 1964, increased technical training has been conducted at Syrian bases.

Reserve officers were trained at a fourth institution in Aleppo. Candidates, in many cases college graduates, were selected from among incoming annual classes of conscripts. They attended a concentrated nine-month course and were then assigned to units, usually in the infantry, as officer candidates. Those who met the qualifications continued as candidates until one month before completion of their required tours of duty, at which time they received their commissions as reserve second lieutenants.

In the past, the standards maintained in officer training varied widely because of the country's frequent political changes. In addition, the differences in the experiences of officers trained in France, Britain, Egypt, Iraq, the United States, and the Soviet Union created a divergence of military and political doctrines within the officer corps. Since 1963, however, training has become increasingly systematic and standardized along Soviet lines. By 1987 graduates of Syrian military academies emerged as dedicated and professional soldiers.

Data as of April 1987

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