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Royal College of Defence Studies
|Imperial Defence College|
|Motto||"To prepare senior officers and officials of the United Kingdom and other countries and future leaders from the private and public sectors for high responsibilities in their respective organisations, by developing their analytical powers, knowledge of defence and international security, and strategic vision."|
|Type||Senior Military College|
|Constituent college of the Defence Academy of the United Kingdom|
The Royal College of Defence Studies (RCDS) instructs the most promising senior officers of the British Armed Forces, Her Majesty's Diplomatic Service and Civil Service in national defence and international security matters at the highest level, to prepare them for the top posts in their respective services. It forms part of the Defence Academy of the United Kingdom, and is its most senior and prestigious component. In addition, there are many overseas attendees these days, who are close allied to the United Kingdom government.
In 1922, a cabinet committee under Winston Churchill, then Secretary of State for the Colonies, recommended the formation of the College. The college was founded in 1927 as the Imperial Defence College and was located at 9 Buckingham Gate until 1939. Its objective at that time was to instruct senior military officers the defence of the British Empire. In 1946, following the end of World War II, the college reopened at Seaford House, Belgrave Square and members of the United States Armed Forces started attending the course for the first time.
It was renamed the Royal College of Defence Studies in 1970, when the British Empire by then had truly dissolved and it was no longer appropriate to have "imperial" in the College's title. In 2007 the Queen and Prince Philip visited the college.
The RCDS Mission is:
- "To prepare senior officers and officials of the United Kingdom and other countries, and future leaders from the private and public sectors, for high responsibilities in their respective organisations, by developing their analytical powers, knowledge of defence and international security, and strategic vision." 
RCDS forms a part of the Defence Academy of the United Kingdom. In fulfilment of its mission, the college runs one course a year, from September to July. Each course is attended by a maximum of 90 full-time members, around one-third from the UK and two-thirds from overseas. Attendees are military officers of Colonel/Brigadier or equivalent rank, and also include Home Office and Ministry of Defence civil servants, Foreign Office diplomats, police officers and a few representatives from the private sector. All members would have been selected to attend the course on the strength of their potential to progress to high positions within their professions.
The course composition has been progressively widened to include members from over 40 different countries. Graduates of the college are entitled to the post-nominal letters rcds, while prior to 1970 the post-nominal letters idc were used.
The College is led by the Commandant—currently Sir Simon Gass, a career diplomat from the British Diplomatic Service who was previously director general political at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. The Commandant leads the Senior Directing Staff of the College, who are in effect the faculty and are a mixture of active and retired military officers, diplomats and civil servants.
- "History of the Royal College of Defence Studies". Royal College of Defence Studies. Archived from the original on 11 December 2009. Retrieved 24 December 2011.
- "College Mission". Royal College of Defence Studies. Archived from the original on 11 December 2009. Retrieved 24 December 2011.
- "Royal College of Defence Studies Handbook 2011" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 18 October 2011. Retrieved 24 December 2011.
- European Military Culture and Security Governance
- "MA in International Security and Strategy". King's College London.
- "Sir Simon Gass appointed as new Commandant Royal College of Defence Studies". Defence Academy of the United Kingdom. Retrieved 13 February 2019.
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