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Squadron Officer School (SOS)

Squadron Officer School Heritage

Air Corps Tactical SchoolSquadron Officer School (SOS) can trace its roots to Air Corps Tactical School (ACTS), which was founded in 1920 at Langley Field, Virginia, and subsequently relocated to Maxwell Field, Alabama, in July 1931. The former ACTS was the cornerstone for all Air Force officer education. In terms of junior officer education, however, Squadron Officer School (SOS) traces its roots more directly to the Air Tactical School (ATS), formerly located at Tyndall Field, Florida. After the creation of AU in 1946, ATS moved to Maxwell Field—later Maxwell AFB—where it continued to produce graduates until it was terminated in 1950, coincident with a major force-structure change at the beginning of America’s involvement in the Korean War.

In that same year, Col Russell V. Ritchey founded SOS. Designed as a leadership development center for junior officers, the school blended graduate-level instructional techniques with thrilling experiential activities to teach and reinforce leadership, team building, and critical-thinking skills. In 1959 SOS became a separate AU school, reporting directly to the AU commander. In 1997 the Air Force established the Air and Space Basic Course (ASBC) and graduated its first class of Second Lieutenants in early 1998. ASBC shared Building 1403 with SOS until military construction later expanded classroom space for both schools. In 2000 SOS merged with ASBC under the newly formed SOC, consolidating a common curriculum directorate and mission support staff. In the intervening years, however, the mission of the college expanded significantly to include a variety of tactical and functional lessons far beyond the founder’s intent. In 2009 the college initiated a massive overhaul of its curriculum and teaching methodologies in both ASBC and SOS to recapture Colonel Ritchey’s original vision of a centralized leadership development center for junior officers. The Air Force decided in 2011 to separate ASBC and SOS, and the SOS course was extended from 5 to 8 weeks. Beginning in November of 2014, both Line and non-Line Air Force captains are afforded a 100% resident opportunity to attend a now streamlined 8 to 5 week course. Today’s SOS offers cutting-edge leadership instruction and experiential applications that students find both challenging and rewarding.


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25 Chennault Circle
Maxwell AFB, AL 36112