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Strategy school changes name, expands

MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. (AFPN) -- To reflect the growing importance of space capabilities to the warfighter and the need for air and space strategists, Air University's School of Advanced Airpower Studies is changing its name and expanding.

For the newly named School of Advanced Air and Space Studies here, the student body will increase from 27 to 40 with the class starting in July.

Lt. Gen. Donald Lamontagne, Air University commander, views the changes as a natural outgrowth of the success of the program.

"SAASS graduates have always been in high demand for key staff and command positions, but the day after Sept. 11, my phone was ringing off the hook," he said. "People responsible for planning for this new kind of war wanted to know where the SAASS grads were. General (John) Jumper, (chief of staff of the Air Force), clearly understands the Air Force need for SAASS graduates, and he approved the expansion when he visited AU last spring."

Lamontagne also said the name change will put increased emphasis on developing airmen who have thought hard about integrating air and space power.

The number of faculty available to teach and advise research, plus the facilities in the Air University Library where the school is housed, limited class size in the past.

To accommodate the larger numbers, SAASS added four faculty with doctoral degrees to the 10 currently aboard and renovated the library.

According to Col. Thomas Griffith, SAASS commandant, a 40-student class is consistent with the depth of quality in the pool of applicants and the demand for graduates in the field. The number also preserves the quality of the school and continued rigor in the academic program.

"Bigger isn't always better," said Griffith. "Even though we're growing by a factor of 50 percent, we've worked hard to ensure that the faculty, curriculum and facilities will preserve the high quality of what is still a very small, degree-granting program."

The 13th class to enter the school will have a new auditorium that seats 60 people and private study carrels with around-the-clock access. A large portion of the existing facility will also get a face-lift.

With the exception of increased emphasis on space and antiterrorism, the rigorous curriculum and intense nature of the school will remain virtually unchanged, Griffith said.

SAASS students read nearly 35,000 pages in the year they are enrolled and compose more than 200 pages of prose, including a formal thesis, said Associate Dean Dennis Drew, who has been with the school since its inception. Students learn to think critically and argue effectively about the roles of air and space power and military force in the affairs of state. Each student also takes an oral comprehensive exam with a committee of three faculty members, one of whom comes from outside SAASS.

Griffith, who graduated from the second class in 1993 before earning his doctorate at the University of North Carolina, sees the new emphasis on space as a natural progression.

"We've always had a course on space, but it was obvious that we needed to do more to keep pace with changes in the world," he said. "This area will get a little bigger at the expense of material that is perhaps no longer as relevant. We'll do a better job of summarizing the early theory and history of airpower as we focus on both current operations and the future." (Courtesy of Air Education and Training Command News Service)

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