In Sep 1968, barely a year after the commissioning of the 1st batch of officers from SAFTI, MINDEF set up the School of Advanced Training for Officers (SATO). SAFTI’s first Director (the appointment title was changed to Commandant much later), BG (Ret) Kirpa Ram Vij, then a Lieutenant Colonel, was the pre-eminent student of its first course.
Demonstrating the crackling pace at which SAFTI was moving, the course included eleven first batch officers who had been commissioned only a year before. SATO represented a reaffirmation of the primary mission of SAFTI – to train officers and NCOs – which the pressure of SAF’s rapid development was diverting it from.
SATO was later renamed Army Officers’ Advanced Schools. The duties and responsibilities of officers grow over a long career. They will periodically switch from the command of increasingly larger echelons to key staff positions. Also, over time, the means and nature of warfare changes with advances in technology and doctrinal developments.
Officers and Military Experts must be professionally upgraded to cope with these advances. They will attend relevant schools for technical training, but the consolidation of command, management, doctrine and operations is done in the respective advanced schools of the SAF Services.
The respective Services' Advanced Schools are now co-located at SAFTI MI as part of the SAF Advanced Schools HQ (SAS HQ). This arrangement optimises the logistics and administration functions of the individual schools, whilst creating an environment for close links at the middle-management level. Though respective Service HQs determine the professional content of their own advanced courses, the SAS HQ is able to promote integration and common SAF objectives. Pooling instructors from each Service also facilitates cross-service instruction in specialist subjects and improves curriculum development across the board.