United States Air Force Special Operations School
The United States Air Force Special Operations School (USAFSOS) is a squadron under the Air Force Special Operations Air Warfare Center (AFSOAWC), which falls under the Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC). AFSOC is the Air Force component of the United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM).
USAFSOS provides education to turn skilled Airmen into special operators. The school provides specialized education to meet the unique requirements of AFSOC Airmen, special operations forces (SOF) aviators, and joint/interagency partners. USAFSOS builds on the functional training conducted by other agencies like the USAF Air Education and Training Command and USSOCOM Service component training schools: Naval Special Warfare Command's Special Warfare Center and U.S. Army Special Operations Command's John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School.
The U.S. Air Force Special Air Warfare School was activated at Hurlburt Field in April 1967 under the Special Air Warfare Center, then located at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida. The school was redesignated the U.S. Air Force Special Operations School in 1968. The School’s initial course was the Special Air Warfare Indoctrination Course designed to prepare Air Force personnel for duty in Southeast Asia. Since then, the curriculum has changed continuously to meet the emerging educational needs of special operations warriors as they respond to complex world situations.
Personnel and resources
USAFSOS is a "de facto" joint school, due to heavy joint/civilian attendance and the joint nature of subjects taught. The staff and faculty are Air Force officers and enlisted personnel, AF Reserve individual mobilization augmentees, AF civilians and contractors.
The USAFSOS curriculum is directed by the AFSOC Commander to meet USSOCOM validated educational requirements. USAFSOS follows the USAF Instructional Systems Development model for course design and delivery.
Currently, courses are focused in one of four areas: asymmetric warfare education, regional and cultural awareness, SOF professional development and joint operations.
Asymmetric warfare courses educate SOF personnel on adversarial threats and operational and technological countermeasures available for consideration. Asymmetric warfare courses include crisis response, information operations, psychological warfare, force protection, unconventional warfare, international terrorism and space operations.
Regional and cultural awareness courses are geared to SOF areas of responsibility and trace their roots to the very first course taught at USAFSOS. The purpose of these courses is to orient the SOF warrior to the cultural, historical, political, economic and security issues of a particular region.
Career development and maturation of officer and enlisted personnel is the primary focus of SOF professional development. Courses in professional development include an introduction to special operations, staff orientation, professional military education and command preparation.
The joint operations courses educate SOF personnel in the areas of SOF doctrine, command and control, mission planning, battle management and civil-military operations.
As USAFSOS expands to meet an increasing demand for "thinking warriors," the number of off-station courses (both formal courses and courses tailored to unit needs) has increased. USAFSOS is increasing its use of distance-learning technologies to expand course availability. Video tele-instruction and web-based courses are becoming increasingly important in reaching USAFSOS’ students.
Most courses use expert guest speakers to ensure the most timely and relevant information is provided to the students. Over 700 such guest speakers, including former ambassadors, distinguished academicians, and active duty and retired flag-rank officers, support USAFSOS.
Course offerings are determined by AFSOC requirements. For many courses, open seats are available on a first-come, first-serve basis. Students are responsible for ensuring security clearance requirements are met before attending courses.
There are no tuition charges for U.S. personnel attending USAFSOS courses. The owning unit funds student attendance.