Attention students: SOS is currently operating under public health restrictions due to COVID-19. Each upcoming class’s formats are evaluated based on current and anticipated Health Protection Condition. Class 21D is split between virtual and in-residence formats. This means that most students will experience our Virtual in Resident-Remote (VIR-R) format, and SOS will host a smaller number of students for an in-residence experience that complies with public health restrictions. Class 21E is currently scheduled to operate the same as 21D. Check back later for updates on our plans for classes beyond 21E.
Squadron Officer School is built around our “LEAD to Prevail” curriculum. LEAD stands for Leadership Experience and Attribute Development. LEAD to Prevail curriculum challenges students to meet the CSAF’s vision to “Accelerate Change or Lose.”
The first week is Know Yourself to Lead Yourself, and challenges students to conduct deep introspection and grasp who they are, their strengths and weaknesses, and chart a course to improve. The second week is Know Your Team to Lead Your Team, where students will engage with each other on concepts of leadership and examples from across the Air Force, culminating in developing a genuine, powerful leadership story that will motivate and inspire. The third week begins an in-depth look at applying leadership competencies to solve complex human-centered problems. It challenges students to apply their lessons learned and incorporate diverse perspectives to address a range of complicated and complex challenges using multidisciplinary design approaches. In the culminating phase, Leading in Context, students learn airpower doctrine, international relations theory, instruments of national power and joint all-domain operations, practice applying their knowledge of leadership and complex problem solving to the business of Air and Space Power. We can’t wait to see you at SOS to help you shape yourself into the best leader you can be!
Squadron Officer School
125 Chennault Circle
Maxwell AFB, AL 36112
SOS Course Dates:
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SOS 21D VIR-R Welcome Letter or
SOS 21D In-Residence Welcome Letter
NOTE: Flight Commanders will provide 21D Canvas credentials on Education Day 1.
1. Leadership. SOS graduates are more effective at the art and science of deliberately influencing others to achieve positive outcomes in a wide range of contexts. More specifically, SOS graduates can:
1.1 Analyze and align critical, creative, systematic, and ethical thinking for a volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous VUCA environment.
1.2 Integrate diverse perspectives to create shared goals and inform decision making.
1.3 Apply models of leadership/followership/teambuilding to the development of interpersonal relationships and the enhancement of organizational performance.
2. Designing to Accelerate Change. Demonstrate proficiency at designing answers for a diverse range of complicated and complex challenges. More specifically, SOS graduates can:
2.1 Apply multidisciplinary methods to creatively design approaches to address organizational challenges.
2.2 Apply leader competencies according to the needs of people, the conditions of the environment, and the availability of resources.
*2.3 Integrate principles of human performance to enhance their ability to learn, to adapt, and to thrive under stressful situations (*in-residence curriculum only)
3. Air and Space Minded Officers. In addition to their operational expertise, SOS graduates can articulate how their individual technical knowledge in air, space, and/or cyberspace domains integrates into Joint All Domain Operations. Specifically, they will be able to:
3.1 Recognize how enduring national interests and the capabilities of sister services and coalition partners, influence DAF operational priorities.
3.2 Describe the all-domain effects the DAF must provide across the continuum of competition to satisfy national interests as Joint Force and coalition partners.
3.3 Articulate ways in which individual Air Force Career Field Specialties contribute to the capabilities of the Joint Force.
3.4 Understand the geopolitical conditions of Great Power competition and how these define national security challenges and shape the demand of Joint Force capabilities.
Leadership is more art than science, but it’s an art we can learn through practice. The Leadership block of Squadron Officer School is designed to illuminate each Captain’s personal strengths and weaknesses to build a picture of their own leadership style. The curriculum focuses on team building, how groups operate together, and how to lead and follow in diverse groups tackling the ever-shifting requirements of the USAF and USSF. Sun Tzu states that knowing ourselves is half the battle. The Leadership block builds a foundation for the rest of SOS though knowing yourself and knowing your team.
In Gen Brown's strategic approach for Air Force success titled "Accelerate Change or Lose," he calls on us to “place capability in warfighters’ hands faster—through innovation, experimentation and rapid prototyping, and a collaborative approach with our service and industry teammates.” The Strategic Design curriculum applies the team building techniques and leadership behaviors learned in the Leadership curriculum through the practice of human-centered design thinking, which is a set of activities used in industry to drive creative problem solving. Using a complex organization as the foundation, this curriculum is delivered in a series of workshops starting with empathy building and analysis, and working through problem definition, idea generation, low resolution prototyping, and testing. The Strategic Design week is aptly referred to as "Accelerating Change and Solving Problems Together."
The final two weeks are Leading in Joint Warfare Context. As you transition from the Strategic Design week into the last two weeks and the introductory study of Joint Warfare, you will take your understanding of leadership, your understanding of complex problem-solving. You will gain the knowledge and experience to apply them. This understanding centers on the introduction to Joint Matters and Great Power Competition. In his Action Order C, General Brown states, “We need to understand the competition’s ambitions and understand how they may conduct future warfare. Similarly, we need to understand and capitalize on our advantages and identify areas we need to improve our capabilities.” These studies provide a baseline of understanding and exposure to this introduction to Joint Matters and Great Power Competition.
With the standup of the United States Space Force (USSF), all Guardians (both transferred and selected) will be in the Space Gray Rhinos! SOS is a great place for space officers to learn, think, and theorize about challenges in space. The students will not focus on tactical operations. Instead, they will focus on space as it applies across the instrument of power, in the past, now, and in the future.
USSF students will receive space-focused curriculum and complete a group capstone project tackline the focus areas outlined in the CSO Planning Guidance. Students will have several opportunities to brief USSF senior leaders on their ideas! This is an opportunity to make a difference for the future of the Space Force.
SOS has a robust and interesting elective program that is a required part of your SOS experience. There are two kinds of electives. One is the standard elective which can be a single period or a series of three periods. The other type are the competitively selected Think Tank and Air University Advanced Research electives. See below for descriptions of Think Tank, AUAR, and selected other electives.
USSF Guardians, who are automatically enrolled in Space Gray Rhinos, are neither required to take standard electives, nor are they eligible to apply for AUAR or TT.
Click on the Think Tank logo for additional information and the current topic.
This satisfies the elective requirement.
Every five weeks SOS Think Tank impacts the Air Force with feasible, innovative hard-hitting solutions which are forged through Design Thinking as well as teamwork and creativity of SOS students. Each team of CGOs has full autonomy to research their problem sets starting with a challenge statement. The teams gain better understanding by performing empathy interviews with local units, base partners, co-workers, DoD experts, and other government agencies. This crucial step provides insight from a diverse set of mission partners and people. Students literally put themselves in the customers shoes in order to design a solution. From there, students work through divergent and convergent design workshops to craft creative solutions which are pitched at a final out brief with AF senior leaders. Past challenges have been designing solutions for AF Recruiting Agency, 1st AF and Homeland Defense, Great Power Competition, Diversity and Inclusion initiatives, and Artic Regional security to name just few. SOS Think Tank, Forge the future, bend the possible! Think Tank Promo
Click on the Air University Advanced Research (AUAR) logo for additional information and the current topics.
Competitively selected SOS students in the Air University Advanced Research program (AUAR), across 10 research areas, work alongside senior mentors and subject matter experts from across AU and beyond. Over the last year 307 student researchers, from across the Total Force, delivered concrete solutions directly to strategic sponsors to make real, tangible change in our shared Air Force community. Click below to learn more about AUAR and the research opportunities we offer. Then, join one of our two AUAR Open Houses on Monday, March 1st at 1045 and 1445CST to learn more directly from our faculty! Research Elective
There are three elective blocks during each SOS course. Students are able to sign up for different topics each elective and choose from three electives or a series that continues through all three elective blocks. These topics vary from a wide array of options. SOS, AU faculty, and distinguished guests offer a dynamic array of topics from Great Power Competition, military strategy, artificial intelligence, and introversion in leadership. For information on the current class electives refer to the Canvas Home Page and select electives.
Squadron Officer School Frequently Asked Questions for VIR-R should answer the most common questions for students for their upcoming course.
If you are a Guard, Reservist, or Civilian interesting in attending SOS, please review the Information Page.
If you completed SOS and need to request a transcript, CLICK HERE.