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Centre for Defence & Strategic Studies

The Centre for Defence and Strategic Studies is nested within the Australian Defence College at Weston Creek. CDSS delivers senior professional military education for Australian Defence Force officers and Defence officials, for Australian government officials from other departments and agencies, and for international military officers and officials. CDSS has partnered with Deakin University – a leading Australian tertiary education provider – for academic services and support to the Defence and Strategic Studies Course (DSSC).


The Acting Principal is COL Charles Weller.

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Defence & Strategic Studies Course

The Defence and Strategic Studies Course (DSSC) is a year long post-graduate level educational program, with a strong practitioner focus, that provides senior military and civilian officials with the knowledge, awareness and skills to operate at the highest levels of leadership, command, policy formulation and management.

Information on the Course


In 1967, the Chiefs of Staff Committee confirmed an urgent need for the establishment of a Joint Services Staff College and for integration of the existing single Service Staff Colleges. The proposal that subsequently evolved was that an Australian Services Staff College (ASSC) should be created by bringing together the existing Staff Colleges and including a Joint Services Wing (JSW). The whole would be under the command of a Commandant filled on rotation by each of the Services.

It was recognised that it would be some years before a comprehensive facility could be developed to house the ASSC—34 years as it turned out—so priority was given to finding a temporary site for the Joint Services Wing. In 1968 the Western Creek site was recommended as a temporary location, with the first course commencing in 1970. By agreement, Army was to sponsor the fledgling establishment. The proposal was approved by the Minister for Defence (The Hon Malcolm Fraser) in January 1969. Brigadier Ian Geddes (who, as founding Commandant, had been instrumental in the success of the Army’s Officer Training Unit at Scheyville near Windsor in NSW) was appointed founding Director to set up the JSW at the Weston Creek site later that year.

The first course commenced in January 1970 with 23 Australian and New Zealand Service and civilian students. It quickly established a reputation for excellence and, in July 1972, with the induction of the first students from other countries, was renamed the Australian Joint Services Staff College (JSSC). The College conducted 57 courses between January 1970 and its closure in June 1998 and produced 2321 graduates (660 of whom were from 23 overseas countries). Since January 1988, those who met the required standard were also awarded a Graduate Diploma in Strategic Studies. Many graduates have risen to command their Service and, in several instances, their national Defence Force. The last Commandant of JSSC was Commodore Geoff Earley, AM, RAN.

In 1994 the Australian College of Defence and Strategic Studies (ACDSS) was established. The ACDSS became the senior institution within the Australian Defence Force's system of professional military education for officers, providing a year-long program of studies for staff at the senior Colonel/Brigadier (or equivalent) levels in strategy, leadership, defence planning, organisation and management. Like the JSSC it quickly established an impressive reputation and, during the four years of its existence 148 participants, of whom 57 were from 17 overseas countries, passed through it. Air Marshal Ray Funnell, AC (Retd), (a former Chief of the Air Staff) served as Principal of the College throughout its life.

The current CDSS has its origins in the report of the Defence Efficiency Review (DER) that was issued in May 1997. That report recommended sweeping changes to officer education in the Australian Defence Force—recommendations which were remarkably similar to the intentions of the late 1960s. Implementation of the DER recommendations led to the replacement of the JSSC and the ACDSS by the Australian Defence College in its initial form. The founding Principal was Air Vice Marshal Brendan O'Loghlin, AO (Retd).

The ADC was officially opened on 18 January 1999 by the Hon. Bruce Scott, MP, Minister Assisting the Minister of Defence. The founding Commander of the ADC in its current form was Rear Admiral Raydon Gates, CSM, RAN (a graduate of JSSC 37/88). The first two courses that were run at the ADC in 1999 were the Defence Staff Course (DSC) and the Defence and Strategic Studies Course (DSSC). In 2000, these two courses were merged to form one course, the Defence and Strategic Studies Course, which is run by the Centre for Defence and Strategic Studies (CDSS). The founding Principal of the CDSS was Mr Paul Varsanyi (a Fellow of the ACDSS—Course 3/97). Previous Principals have been Ms Myra Rowling (2005), Mr Maurice Hermann (2006) and Dr Alan Ryan (2007–2011).

The current Acting Principal is COL Charles Weller, who commenced on 24 February 2018.

Previous Principals:

Name Years
AVM (Retd) B D O'Loghlin, AO 4 Jan 1990 - 3 Dec 2000
Mr Paul Varsany 1 Jan 2001 - 5 Dec 2004
Ms Myra Rowling 6 Jan 2005 - 8 Dec 2005
Mr Maurice Hermann 5 Jan 2006 - 15 Dec 2006
Dr Alan Ryan 16 Dec 2006 - 31 Jan 2012
Mr Geoff Petersen (Acting) 1 Feb 2012 - 2 Sep 2012
Mr Ian Errington 3 Sep 2012 – 23 Feb 2018
COL Charles Weller (Acting) 24 Feb 2018 - present