Company grade officer PME undergoes transformation

By AFNS on July 9, 2011

MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. (AFNS) -- Air Force senior leaders recently approved a plan to transform professional military education for company grade officers.

The two existing developmental education venues for lieutenants and captains will soon merge into a single in-residence opportunity for CGOs.

The air and space basic course at Air University here will transfer portions of its content to the squadron officer school in-residence program, and the final group of lieutenants will graduate ASBC this summer.

The revamped SOS course will expand from its current five-week duration to an eight-week program and will retain the "combined operations" with the U.S. Air Force Senior NCO Academy.

ASBC and SOS are aligned under Air University's Squadron Officer College, one of the colleges included in the Carl A. Spaatz Center for Officer Education.

"ASBC has been a success," said Col. Terrance McCaffrey, the SOC commandant. "It accomplished the mission for which it was created back in the 1990s. As a direct result of ASBC, today's officer corps now collectively embraces the warrior ethos, reflects an expeditionary mindset, better comprehends 'the family business' and is more adept at articulating what our Air Force brings to the fight."

Incorporating lessons from 20 years of expeditionary operations, the remaining training and educational offerings, from accessions programs to career-specific training to deployment and readiness training, will continue to meet basic developmental needs that ASBC was originally designed to address, McCaffrey said.

"Our senior leaders decided to have today's junior officers focus first on learning their individual specialties," McCaffrey added. "After these officers have mastered their specialties, SOC will help them to build upon their technical and experiential foundation with the expanded understanding of Air Force operations and processes, leadership and joint operations that will be core to the new SOS course."

The ASBC commandant, Col. Louis Dupuis, said that although the Air Force valued the learning outcomes produced by ASBC, senior leaders had to weigh these outcomes against the potential cost savings and the fact that some of those outcomes could be achieved through other means.

"The savings are considerable," Dupuis said. "The savings will be about $12 million in fiscal year 2012."

Upon discontinuation of the ASBC program, those instructors and staff members currently assigned to the school will transition from teaching duties to developing curriculum for the transformed SOS.

"Those ASBC topics that remain relevant to the learning needs of the more-senior SOS audience will have to be reworked to ensure students receive a valuable developmental experience within the overarching context of the SOS leadership development mission," McCaffrey said. "As those changes are made, other adjustments will have to be made in the existing SOS curriculum to ensure that the result is a coherent, engaging educational program that reaches, teaches and inspires its students at a graduate-level of learning."

"Although the goal for the new eight-week SOS is 100 percent in-residence attendance for line-of-the-Air Force officers, experience indicates it will be difficult to achieve this goal because of operations tempo," Dupuis said. "ASBC had an identical attendance goal, but because of operational concerns, it was unable to maintain that level of throughput."

Consequently, there will be a distance-learning alternative for those officers and civilians who are unable to attend the resident program, he said. The existing squadron officer school distance-learning course will continue to take new students until the revised course is completed and made available by June 2012.

The current five-week SOS courses will continue through September, when SOS will stand down temporarily while the curriculum is retooled. The new eight-week SOS course is scheduled to debut in early 2012.