The Air Force is expanding its Squadron Officer School from five weeks to six and a half weeks as part of Chief of Staff Gen. Dave Goldfein's effort to revitalize squadrons and better develop joint leaders.
Air University said in a Thursday release that the next Squadron Officer School class, which begins July 31 at Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama and is called Class 18A, will be the first to have the longer curriculum that is built on four areas:
- Building highly effective teams.
- Logical and ethical reasoning in decision making.
- Multi-domain joint warfare.
The longer curriculum means Squadron Officer College won't be able to offer as many classes each year — only six instead of the previous seven. But Air University is planning to increase the size of each class from 600 to 700 students, to make sure the Air Force will still teach the same number of officers annually.
Col. Wayne Straw, commandant of Squadron Officer School, said all three of Goldfein's priorities — revitalizing squadrons, improving joint leader development and improving command and control — will be reflected in the revised course. But squadrons and joint leader development will be particularly emphasized, he said.
"At its core, SOS is a leadership school whose foundation is built upon joint warfare," Straw said in the release. "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."
The release said the curriculum seeks to teach captains how to become "bold and courageous" leaders. Students will face classroom and hands-on challenges that seek to test their leadership awareness and thinking, conflict resolution and problem-solving skills, and collaboration skills.
"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," Maj. Dwayne Clark, dean of academic affairs for Squadron Officer College, said in the release. "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."
The Air Force's Squadron Officer College cancelled the previous class, which was to run from June 5 to July 7, to give it time to prepare the new curriculum and show the staff how to teach it. Officers who were scheduled to take the cancelled Class 17G will be able to attend the program in the future.
Air Force Personnel Center and training managers have been asked by Squadron Officer College to give officers who have promotion boards coming up priority for placement in the 18A and 18B classes.
Stephen Losey is the air warfare reporter for Defense News. He previously covered leadership and personnel issues at Air Force Times, and the Pentagon, special operations and air warfare at Military.com. He has traveled to the Middle East to cover U.S. Air Force operations.