MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. — Air University’s Squadron Officer School has redesigned its program to better align with the needs of the Air Force. The new course has increased from five to six-and-a-half weeks, commencing with Class 18A which starts July 31, 2017.
The redesign effort was necessary in order for SOS’s parent organization, Squadron Officer College, to meet Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein’s direction to produce a better-equipped force as characterized in his three focus areas: revitalizing squadrons — the heartbeat of the Air Force; strengthening joint leaders and teams, and enhancing multi-domain command and control.
The result is a curriculum that favorably impacts squadrons by educating captains on becoming “bold and courageous” leaders ready to overcome today’s and tomorrow’s challenges. In order to accomplish this task, the course was designed around four primary areas: leadership, building highly effective teams, logical and ethical reasoning in decision making, and multi-domain joint warfare as Airmen.
The changes being made to the resident course solidify a foundation of education in all of the focus areas. However, the focus areas of revitalizing the squadron and building joint leaders are heavily emphasized in this course, said Col. Wayne Straw, the SOS commandant.
“At its core, SOS is a leadership school whose foundation is built upon joint warfare,” said Straw. “As a leadership school, we help develop the effective behaviors necessary for Air Force captains. SOS’s role in developing joint Airmen is to ensure all Airmen, regardless of Air Force specialty or function, can articulate how they integrate into the larger Air Force’s mission throughout the range of military operations and the spectrum of joint warfare.”
Within the four areas of the course, students will engage in classroom and hands-on application events that will challenge their individual leadership awareness and thinking, provide effective methods for conflict resolution, learn how to solve problems and innovate collaboratively.
“SOS is the primary developmental education for our captains, and we felt it was crucial to invest the time required to develop the competencies our students need for the operational Air Force,” said Maj. Dwayne Clark, the SOC dean of academic affairs. “At this point in their careers, our students are tactical experts and understand what they do day-to-day. This in-residence program is an opportunity to ensure captains think deeply and critically about why they do it. As such, we will engage them in divergent, convergent and reflective thinking habits, which are cornerstones for leadership growth.”
To implement such a substantive revision, SOC faculty and staff canceled Class 17G (June 5 – July 7) to finalize curriculum and prepare staff for executing the new syllabus. The expanded course is set to resume July 31 with Class 18A. Airmen scheduled for the canceled 17G class will have an opportunity to attend the enhanced in-residence program in future classes. SOC has requested that Air Force Personnel Center and training managers ensure all individuals meeting upcoming promotion boards have priority placement for classes 18A and 18B. In addition, HAF/A1D provided a blanket waiver for any captain enrolled in class 17G that required a Total Active Federal Commissioned Service waiver (for active-duty officers) or a Total Years Commissioned Service waiver (for Air Reserve component officers), or an approved exception to policy waiver (e.g., physical fitness, medical profile, etc.) from SOC.
This change decreases the total number of annual classes from seven to six; however, SOC plans to increase the size of each class from 600 to 700 students to maintain the same annual production requirements set by the Air Force.