Brief historical overview
Shortly after Belgium's independence (1830), King Leopold I, having served as an officer in the Russian army against Napoleon, becomes aware of the need for a professional officer corps. At that point in time, tensions still exist between Belgium and the Netherlands. Indeed, although an armistice is in place, no peace treaty has been signed yet and there is a dire need for well trained officers. As King Leopold I greatly admires the French 'École Polytechnique', it does not come as a surprise when, in 1834, lieutenant-colonel Jean-Jacques Edouard Chapelié, a former student of this École, is charged with establishing a school aimed at training Belgian officers. He becomes the first commander of the Military Academy of Belgium.
Initially, the cadets attend courses at different locations in the centre of Brussels. The school's staff is installed in a large mansion at the rue de Namur. In 1874, the school moves to the former abbey of La Cambre. It moves again in 1909 to its present location at the avenue de la Renaissance. From 1994 to 2010, its infrastructure is completely renovated, while also accomodating its historical heritage.
The Defence College
The Defence College is responsible for the whole of the advanced officer training within the Department of Defence.
|1834||Staff officers are trained at the Military Academy upon completing their general training.||1991||The IRSD moves to the former Cadets School in the Saint Anne barracks in Laeken, completely renovated for that purpose.|
|1869||(12 november) By Royal Decree, the War College is established as an independant institution. However, it remains linked to the Military Academy for administrative purposes.||1998||Following the abolishment of the School for Military Administrators, the IRSD is entrusted also with the training of officers as military administrators.|
|1872||The War College, now an independant institution, is placed directly under the supervision of the Minister of War.||2006||
As the Laeken site is abandoned, the IRSD is disbanded as a training institution and the advanced officer training is now entrusted to the Royal Military Academy (Directorate for Advanced Training).
IRSD's new mission is now orientated towards security and defence policy, as well as scientific and techological research. It also organises high-level courses within the Department of Defence.
|1923||(13 july) By royal decree, the War College's status as an autonomous training institute is confirmed, under the supervision of the Minister of National Defence. The Corps of Staff Officers is abolished and its members are absorbed into their branch with the title of Breveté d'Etat-Major.||2009||The Directorate for Advanced Training of the Royal Military Academy is renamed to Defence College. At the same time, the Operations Department of the latter is transferred from the Directorate of Academic Studies to the Defence College.|
|1978||The War College is transformed into an institution entrusted with the advanced training of officers at various points in their career. Its name is changed to "Institut royal supérieur de Défense" (IRSD).|