The history of this prestigious college dates back to 1967 when the Defence Minister, the late Tun Hj Abdul Razak bin Dato‘ Hussein, proposed to set up a professional military institution to train Malaysian Armed Forces (MAF) officers for higher command and staff responsibilities. Subsequently, the Armed Forces Council agreed on the college’s formation in its 123rd meeting on 27 October 1970.
‘HAIGATE‘ was chosen as the temporary site for the college because of its colourful, old but picturesque conglomeration of bricks and wooden blocks of huts, overlooking the Ministry of Defence in Kuala Lumpur. The camp was firstly built during the post–war period and served as an Officers‘ Mess (Imphal Mess). It later became a series of temporary army camps, the last being Headquarters of Second Malaysian Infantry Division and Headquarters of lines of Communication Engineer Regiment.
The challenging task of finding a suitable location for the college and the right directing staff fell on the shoulders of a charismatic and far-sighted commander, Brig Jen Datuk A. Arulpragasam, who later became the 1st Commandant of Malaysian Armed Forces Staff College (MAFSC). The college welcomed its first batch of 30–course participants (CP), drawn from the three services in January 1972. The subsequent intake was increased the following year when the college took in officers from the Royal Malaysian Police and the Malayan Civil Service in addition to those of the three services, making a total of 32 CPs.
In 1974, the college created another milestone when it opened its doors to overseas CPs. Participants from friendly nations namely Australia, Indonesia, New Zealand, Thailand and the United Kingdom, joined the course. Since then, the CP intake has increased proportionally with the representation of officers from friendly countries. Over the years, the college has undergone many structural changes and established itself as a reputed seat of learning Strategy, Warfare and Leadership with a student body of 165 officers, which includes 41 officers from Royal Malaysian Police, Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency and over 23 friendly nations.
In its quest for quality and excellence, the college formed a strategic partnership with the University of Malaya (UM) in 1995. Under this collaboration, CP graduated after successfully earning a Post Graduate Diploma in Strategic and Defence Studies as well as the ‘psc‘ qualification. Marks awarded for the Post Graduate Diploma in Strategic and Defence Studies were absorbed into the overall staff college course assessment. In implementing this program, the UM Program Coordinator and six professors and lecturers were assigned to the college during the UM Module.
The collaboration with UM ceased in 2011, and in 2012 the college established a new partnership with the National Defence University of Malaysia offering a joint program of Executive Diploma in Strategic and Defence Studies which was fully accredited by the Malaysian Qualification Agency. Later on, in January 2019, the Executive Diploma Program was upgraded to a Post Graduate Diploma in Strategic and Defence Studies which falls into grade 7 of the Malaysian Qualification Framework.
To date, 5390 officers of various nationalities have successfully graduated from the prestigious MAFSC since it was founded in 1972. Due to its illustrious achievements, this highly acclaimed college has inducted 14 alumni members to its Hall of Fame, namely those who have achieved the highest pinnacle in their military career (Chief of Defence Force, Chief of Army, Chief of Navy or Chief of Air Force).
The year of 2019 had created two significant historical events for the CPs of Serial 48/2019 and the college itself. Cohort 48/2019 was the third intake that saw the participation of only local CP from the tri–services and did not have any participants from overseas or any government agencies due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, Cohort 48/2019 was also the last intake at Haigate until the end of November 2019
Moving forward to become the centre of excellence in the region for Defence Studies and Research, the college has moved to a new, modern and integrated complex located in Putrajaya known as National Centre for Defence Studies or PUSPAHANAS. The newly minted location in Presint 1, Putrajaya was mooted by the Prime Minister, The Right Honourable, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohammad, who proposed an integrated complex to house together both the MAF Defence College and MAFSC, Malaysia‘s centre of military studies under one common roof in year 2000. Finally, the new Cohort 49/2019 embarked on a journey that created history by becoming the first cohort to attend MAFSC at the new complex of PUSPAHANAS in September 2019.
The college’s vision is to become the nation‘s centre of excellence for Strategic and Defence Studies in an effort to develop quality leaders with excellent skills in operational planning management in a joint environment. Whilst its mission is to prepare selected Armed Forces Officers to assume command and staff appointments in a single service or joint operations in integrated and complex environment.
The college emblem comprises a five-pointed gold crown and a shield with coloured segment of azure, red and dark blue symbolising loyalty to His Majesty, the King and the joint service nature of the college. The three ‘keris‘ (wavy double-bladed dagger) signify the three services, which indicates the three services are ready for action. While the open book is a symbol of continuous learning. The yellow segment at the bottom symbolises the constitutional monarch as the head of state and the blossomed Bunga Raya signifies the character of the Staff College as a national institution. The college motto ‘Ilmu Hikmat Gagah‘ inscribed on the open book means ‘Knowledge Is the Source of Strength‘