History Command and Staff College, Quetta
DEOLALI PERIOD (1905 - 1907)
The birth of the Staff College in British India was preceded by a long incubation period of thirty years, for it was in 1875 that a proposal was first floated to establish an institution in India similar to that at Camberley, UK, with the object of providing trained staff officers for the British Indian Army. The first proposal; however, failed to find enough support in the British War Office and the matter was shelved. Instead, the War Office sanctioned a scheme by which a small number of officers of the Indian Staff Corps were permitted to attend course at the Camberley Staff College. But this small number proved insufficient for the British Indian Army. The College, however, owes its being to the arrival of Field Marshal Viscount Kitchener as Commander-in-Chief in India, whose reorganisation of the Army in India in 1902 created more staff appointments and revealed a dearth of trained staff officers. The former practice of sending six selected officers to the Camberley was obviously inadequate. Camberley was also not prepared to offer any increase in vacancies to the Army in India. Lord Kitchener's recommendations to the Government had proposed a parallel institution in India. His suggestions were accepted by the Indian Government and the proposal to build a Staff College at Quetta was sanctioned finally along with an expenditure of Rupees 6, 33,440, in January 1905.
On 21 March, the same year, an Indian Army Order provided for temporary establishment of the Staff College at Deolali, near Bombay, pending completion of the building at Quetta. It was named the "Indian Staff College". Initially, the College had a staff of one Colonel and five Lieutenant Colonels under Brigadier General A.W.L. Bayly for the first course of 24 officers which commenced on 1 July 1905. The College was to open in the building of Musketeer School at Deolali, which was eventually converted to provide three lecture halls, a library, College offices, a map department, a reproduction office and a photographic dark room through considerable alterations. No accommodation; however, could be arranged for the Commandant and the Professors. They had to hire civilian bungalows in the neighbourhood. Such was the state of infrastructure for first two years of the College.
The charter of the College was to train staff officers for the Indian Staff Corps. The same regulations, entrance examination syllabus and methods of training as those at Camberley were to be adopted. Students were selected for the courses partly by competitive examination and partly by nomination. Lord Kitchener also ordered that, as far as possible, staff appointments should be filled by the College graduates. In addition to training selected officers for staff appointments in the British Indian Army, the College was to provide them with the background required for higher command.
In 1905, the Staff Course was of two years duration divided into two divisions, the Junior and Senior Divisions; though of course, it was not until 1906 that the second division came into being. The War Office had laid that the syllabus for the Course should be similar to that of Camberley. In the curriculum, the subjects included Military History and Strategy, Geography,Tactics, Military Engineering, Staff Duties, Administration, Economics and Law. The curriculum allowed time for polo, shooting and fishing, and there is no record of students burning the midnight oil for anything other than their own pleasure! Conclusion of the first year at College saw various modifications made to the curriculum in the light of experience gained to suit the Indian environment.