SOS reduces course length, increases classes in FY 15
By Staff Sgt. Natasha Stannard, 42nd Air Base Wing Public Affairs
/ Published September 10, 2014
MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. (AFNS) -- To align with the chief of staff of the Air Force's vision to give more company grade officers the opportunity to attend Squadron Officer School, Squadron Officer College is changing the school's course term length from eight to five weeks starting in fiscal year 2015.
The school challenges students from differing specialties to step out of their comfort zones by having them work collectively to accomplish exercises that involve team building in a leadership laboratory.
"Changing the class length will not hinder the opportunity for students to learn more about themselves and how to function as leaders within our Air Force, today and tomorrow," said Col. Gerald Goodfellow, SOC commander and SOS commandant.
"The increased number of classes is a positive thing, because we'll have the opportunity to impact a significantly higher number of captains in our SOS in-residence program," said Col. Scott Yancy, SOC vice commander.
Currently, SOS graduates about 3,600 students annually. With the change to five weeks, more than 4,700 U.S. Air Force and international officers and Department of Defense civilians will now graduate from the school. In addition to the increase in throughput, the change to five weeks will also save the Air Force $1.9 million annually.
The increase in number of classes per year from five to seven will provide an opportunity for 100 percent of active duty captains to attend SOS. The increase also allows a greater allocation of slots for Air National Guard, Air Force Reserve, DoD civilians and international officers.
The new five-week course will be an adaptation of the current curriculum, which emphasizes five areas: leadership, communication, warfare, the profession of arms and international security studies. While the course reduces instructor-to-student contact time by 61 hours, the SOS faculty rewrote a majority of the courses to ensure that the new curriculum meets all of the learning objectives for the basic level of primary military education.
"The learning that occurs when students interact not only with line of the Air Force Airmen, but from the chaplain who's in the room, or the nurse, or the [judge advocate general] officer who perhaps has a totally different perspective ... we welcome this diversity in the classroom. It brings different ideas and better solutions," said Yancy. "SOS in-residence provides our captains a great opportunity to share their areas of expertise with others, but they also gain a broader view of what makes the United States Air Force work."
Although the classes will be shorter, the impact across the Air Force is much greater as more captains will learn the skills necessary to lead multi-faceted Airmen, he said.
"The course will continue to help students see the Air Force as a larger team, with many career fields that contribute to the business of delivering air, space and cyberspace power," Goodfellow added.
Policy changes to SOS in-resident and distance learning enrollments can be found in Air Force Guidance Memorandum 2014-01 to Air Force Instruction 36-2301, Developmental Education on the e-Publishing website in the Air Force Portal.
Squadron Officer School is part of the Air University Carl A. Spaatz Center for Officer Education.