Our History

The Inter-American Defense College (IADC), located on Fort Lesley J. McNair, was formally opened on 9 October 1962 when the Honorable Dean Rusk, then Secretary of State of the United States, presented the building and furnishings donated by the United States Government. Doctor Jose A. Mora, then Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), was the principal speaker at the opening ceremony. The first class, with 29 students representing 15 American republics, received their diplomas on 20 March 1963 with then Vice President of the United States, Lyndon B. Johnson, giving the graduation address and awarding diplomas.


The IADC is an international educational institution operating as an element of the OAS through the Inter-American Defense Board. It provides a professionally oriented, multidisciplinary, graduate-level course of study. This eleven-month program provides senior military and government officials with a comprehensive understanding of governmental systems, the current international environment, structure and function of the Inter-American system, and an opportunity to study broad based security issues affecting the Hemisphere and the world. The development of these concentrations is accomplished through the detailed study of political, economic, psychosocial, and military factors of power. The College takes advantage of the unparalleled educational and research facilities in the Washington DC. area as well as external academic visits to the Americas. Faculty and students also engage in research and publishing.

The IADC is unique in the Western Hemisphere in that the faculty and the student body are international. Broad international participation gives an unusual opportunity for the exchange of ideas and offers the foundation for better inter-American understanding. The extensive academic curriculum and close association of faculty and students representing a diversity of ideas and backgrounds fosters close professional and personal cooperation. Students and faculty share strong democratic values and a continuing commitment to strengthening democratic institutions in the Americas.

Each member country of the OAS may submit candidates for attendance at the IADC. Since its beginning, 2,669 students from 26 different countries have graduated from the college. Over 40 percent of the graduates have risen to general officer/flag ranks or the civilian equivalent. They occupy senior leadership roles in their respective countries. As demonstrated through its graduates, the College educates talented men and women for important, future leadership roles in the Americas.

To prepare military, national police and civilian government officials from member and observer states of the OAS to assume senior strategic-level positions within their governments, through graduate and advanced-level academic programs in defense, security, and related disciplines focused on the hemisphere.

To be recognized as the premier academic institution in defense and security of the hemisphere.