Higher Command Studies Course

Academic year: 2017 


The HCSC was created in 2004 to educate senior military officers and government officials on the wide range of challenges regarding the adaptation of the defense institutions at the national, Allied and European levels, such that they become better able to participate in the full spectrum of twenty-first century operations. The core rationale for the course is to ensure that the Baltic states’ armed forces will be able to make an effective contribution to meet today’s and tomorrow’s strategic challenges, and their respective leaderships will understand the requirement for, and will be ready to lead, major defense development programs. Over 160 students, representing more than thirty countries, have graduated from these courses. Many have since received important and demanding postings in their home countries or international organizations.


The aim of the HCSC is to educate military officers and government officials from the Baltic states, their allies and partners, for executive responsibilities at the strategic level. It will enable comprehension of the multifaceted actions necessary for the accomplishment of national and Allied strategic objectives, within an uncertain international environment. It will produce creative, proactive and agile commanders, policymakers and managers, capable of making sound, decisive and future-oriented strategic decisions.


The Supreme Allied Command Transformation (SACT) accredited the HCSC as a NATO course and included it in the NATO Course Catalogue in 2008. The SACT document states that the HCSC ‘is considered to be a very effective tool for the education and individual training of our alliance and partners (in particular, the multinational nature of the course)’. As a NATO-approved course, the HCSC has established its position alongside other courses at a similar level and is able to deliver added-value education to military and civilian students from the Baltic states, as well as their allies and partners. The BALTDEFCOL went through the process again in 2015 and now the HCSC is included into Education and Training Opportunities Catalogue (NATO).


The HCSC comprises six discrete and sequential core modules containing variety of curriculum activities. These activities are optimized for residential delivery and are designed to attain the desired level of learning in the applicable subject.

Learning Outcomes

The delivery of education through the HCSC is organised around six key learning outcomes. By the end of the course, students should be able to:

  1. Generate research-based papers and oral presentations aimed at the strategic level, utilising – where appropriate – the relevant strategic theory or model of strategic leadership, to evaluate complicated strategic phenomena (Module 1 – Framing Strategic Leadership);
  2. Appraise the key theories of international relations, geopolitics and power by determining their suitability and usefulness as analytical frameworks to examine contemporary global affairs, including the geopolitical situation in the Baltic Neighbourhood (Module 2 – International Security and Baltic Neighbourhood);
  3. Examine current and historical use of military power by dissecting examples of various conflict types and lessons learned from them to distinguish potential characteristics of future conflicts (Module 3 – Armed Conflict);
  4. Formulate grand strategy at the national level and include the feasibility assessment of strategic policy options through risk assessment procedures while appraising multilateral, bilateral as well as national defence policy and planning (Module 4 – Strategy Formulation and Planning);
  5. Plan defence management strategies using tools of strategic resource management and apply them to a case study (Module 5 – Strategic Defence Management);
  6. Formulate a proposal for the improvement of defence policies and force structures and apply them to the Baltic states by using the latest available information and present it to a group of senior military officials during Exercise Strategic Planner (Module 6 – Long-Term Defence Planning).

Educational Approach – Stimulating Creative and Critical Thinking

The HCSC’s educational philosophy is predicated on a combined educational approach, including lectures, seminars and small group (syndicate) activities, to facilitate adult learning. Consequently, the primary responsibility for learning and achieving the specified learning outcomes is placed on the student. To help facilitate this, the HCSC – and the wider Baltic Defense College – aims to provide the best possible educational environment for learning to take place. Thus, active learning and the full participation and contribution of all students is heavily encouraged; this allows students to share their knowledge, experience and learning with others in an open and positive environment.


Prospective students should be Lieutenant Colonels / Colonels (Navy Commanders / Captains) who are considered at the time of their selection to possess the potential for promotion to the rank of General (Admiral), government officials from MoDs (or MFAs) with equivalent rank and potential, or academics with a demonstrated potential for promotion to high-level civil servant posts.

Military students should have graduated from a Joint Command and General Staff Course, or equivalent Course at officer education level 3. Civil servants and academics must have an appropriate academic profile (at minimum Master level or NDC, GCSP, etc.).

English language level should - as an absolute minimum - be 3333 according to NATO STANAG 6001. Students from NATO countries should hold a NATO Confidential security clearance; other students should hold a national confidential security clearance.

Students should also possess routine computer skills (Internet, MS Windows, MS Word, MS PowerPoint and MS Excel).

HCSC Graduates

The college has so far conducted ten HCSCs. A total of 168 students, representing thirty-two states, have graduated from these courses. Many have since received important and demanding postings in their home countries or international organizations. Click here

Colonel, Lithuanian Army
Course Director HCSC

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