Tunisia - Military Training
Long-term absence of quality training programs for military personnel has resulted in a shortage of technically trained officers and enlisted specialists, hampering the development of the ANT as a credible fighting force. To a degree, the problem with ANT training resulted from official reluctance to increase defense expenditures over many years, thus restricting expansion of training facilities.
Because of the relatively small size of the military elements and the scope of their technical requirements, the government has relied to a large extent on foreign assistance in matters of training. In the mid-1980s basic training for conscripts normally lasted three months and was taught mainly at the army training center at Bizerte. After basic training, recruits received further specialized training with their units over the next three months. NCOs were trained at their own academy near Tunis in a one-year program. This was followed by a six-month specialization course and six additional months of service as instructors for incoming recruits.
In December 1967 a national military academy was opened with French assistance at Fondouk Jedad, south of Tunis. The academy provided military leadership instruction to officer candidates of all three components of the ANT, although each service operated separate schools for specialized training. Admission was competitive among those who had achieved a baccalauréat degree recognized by the Tunisian education system. The academy's fouryear course of instruction included university courses as well as coursework with specifically military content and was reportedly weighted toward engineering and scientific subjects. Beginning in the early 1980s academy graduates were rotated through an instruction center where they would spend a year assisting in recruit training-like the NCO school of graduates-honing their skills as leaders and educators. A year of specialized instruction or weapons training normally followed before the young officers joined a regular unit with the rank of second lieutenant.
Tunisian military officers continued to receive instruction throughout their careers. Junior staff training, called "the stage of captains," prepared Tunisian officers for command at the company level. Officers of major rank might qualify for the School of Superior Military Instruction, a junior staff college that prepared them to command large units, lead in interservice operations, and perform staff functions. Selected lieutenant colonels would be chosen to attend the Superior War College, after which they would qualify for the top command and staff positions in the ANT.
As an addition to the purely military schools, Bourguiba in early 1984 inaugurated the Institute of National Defense. The new institute was designed to operate as a forum for exchanges between high-level civilians and military personnel. In a scholarly atmosphere the fellows of the center were expected to conduct research, reflect, and help shape policy on the major issues of national defense and international relations facing Tunisia.
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