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Any Saudi male citizen--including citizens who had been naturalized for at least five years--could apply for training as an officer if he met the physical and mental standards. Most officer candidates attended military preparatory schools in Riyadh and other cities, where they received free tuition if they committed themselves to attend a military college upon graduation. The King Abd al Aziz Military Academy was the principal source of second lieutenants for the army. Designed for a capacity of 1,500 cadets, this modern facility was a selfcontained small city about forty kilometers from Riyadh. The curriculum required three years of study, with successful completion leading to a bachelor of military science degree and a commission. After graduation the new second lieutenants attended a branch school for specialization in infantry, artillery, armor, ordnance, airborne units, the engineers, communications, military police, or administration. Officers in mid-career competed for places at the Command and Staff College at Riyadh to earn a master of military science degree, a required step toward promotion to the senior ranks. Selected officers also attended higher military colleges in the United States and other countries.

A network of army schools trained NCOs in branch and specialized services. Basic training of enlisted personnel was conducted by Saudi NCOs, but most subsequent training was carried out with the assistance of foreign military personnel or specialists under contract.

Science graduates of technical institutions and universities could obtain direct commissions as second lieutenants. In September 1990, the king issued a directive opening military training programs to all male university graduates without distinction as to geographical and tribal balance, which had been factors in the past.

Air force flight training took place at the King Faisal Air Academy at Al Kharj. The flight training consisted of a twentyseven -month course that began with intensive instruction in the English language. British instructors under contract to British Aerospace (BAe--formerly the British Aircraft Corporation) held most of the faculty positions at the air academy as well as at the Technical Studies Institute at Dhahran, where Saudi aircraft technicians were trained.

After successful completion of primary training, cadets were assigned for several months of advanced training on British Strikemasters and Hawks, which had sufficient avionics and weapons for alternate use as light daytime interceptors. Prospective transport pilots and F-15 pilots were sent to the United States for advanced training.

A number of naval technical and training facilities were built with United States guidance. Much of the United States Navy's training in connection with its equipment deliveries, including that for enlisted men, was conducted at San Diego and at other United States training installations. In the 1980s, training and advisory responsibilities increasingly shifted to France, linked to the delivery of major ship units.

The Marine Training Institute at Jiddah, founded in 1982, had a capacity of 500 officers and NCO students. Officers could earn specialized degrees in mechanical, electrical, or electronic engineering, general science, or military science. The general course for NCOs was of twenty-six months' duration.

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Page last modified: 09-07-2011 02:40:24 ZULU