The professional preparation of junior military officers in the Saudi Arabian National Guard : King Khaled Military Academy
This thesis is a contribution to cross-national studies of professional officer education and training. It describes and evaluates a junior officer preparation programme at King Khaled Military Academy (KKMA), Saudi Arabia, in a comprehensive way. Both positive and negative aspects of the programme are included in this study, along with an extensive literature survey highlighting common features of programme effectiveness and potential barriers to success. The research develops an innovative five-point "star model" for the evaluation of junior officer preparation programmes, deemed appropriate for the investigation of five programme components: recruitment and selection, indoctrination, vocational preparation, liberal education, and physical fitness. To obtain multiple viewpoints in evaluating KKMA's junior officer programme, the study adopts a multiple method design integrating the use of questionnaires, interviews, and documentary evidence, in order to permit triangulation. It is also guided by three questions: "How is it done? "; "How well is it done? "; and "How can it be improved". In total, one hundred graduating cadets, forty seven teaching staff members, and three high-ranking military officers took part in this study. The study is organised as follows. Chapter one introduces the research, chapter two explores issues surrounding the professional education and training of the modem military officer, chapter three surveys the relevant literature, chapter four explains the study's methodology, chapters five to nine present the results and chapter ten discusses the main findings and draws conclusions. The major findings of this research are as follows: based mainly on the perceptions of the research participants, (1) KKMA's recruitment and selection system was judged to be unsystematic and ineffective despite the huge efforts and resources invested in it annually; (2) the evidence pointed to a mixed verdict with regard to KKMA's indoctrination programme, recognising that it was strong in terms of military culture, but weak because it emphasised soldiering over leadership training; (3) the Academy's vocational programme was overall rated as moderately effective and balanced, although improvements were needed in the provision of technical, technological, and leadership skills; (4) the liberal education programme was also judged to be on balance moderately effective despite imperfections, particularly in terms of relevance to military needs; finally (5) KKMA's physical fitness programme equally emerged as moderately effective despite weaknesses and barriers impeding its success, its greatest deficiency being that it did not teach cadets how to coach others. Practical implications include the need to review and update every aspect of KKMA's junior officer preparation programme, if it is to continue to enjoy high esteem for excellence and integrity, and if its graduates are to merit the status of professionals.