The US Air Force Special Operations School (USAFSOS) is a primary support unit of the Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC), the Air Force component of the US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM). The School is collocated with, and directly supports, USSOCOM's Joint Special Operations University.
Activated in April 1967 as the USAF Special Air Warfare School under the Special Air Warfare Center, the School was redesignated USAFSOS in July 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 emerging educational needs of special operations warriors as they respond to complex world situations.
USAFSOS provides indoctrination to turn skilled Airmen into special operators. The School provides specialized education to meet the unique requirements of AFSOC Airmen, SOF aviators, and joint/interagency partners. USAFSOS builds on the functional training conducted by other agencies like Air Education and Training Command and the USSOCOM training component schools: US Navy Special Operations Command's Special Warfare Center and US Army Special Operations Command's John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School.
USAFSOS is a "defacto" joint school, due to heavy joint/civilian attendance and joint nature of subjects taught. The joint staff and faculty are comprised of 40 Air Force officer and enlisted personnel, 10 Air Force Reserve Individual Mobilization Augmentees, and Army and Navy special operators, civilians, and contractor personnel.
Nineteen commandants have guided USAFSOS in its 40-year history. The present Commandant is Colonel Paul R. Harmon, USAF. Telephone: DSN 579-6620/6222; commercial (850) 884-6620.
The USAFSOS curriculum is directed by USSOCOM and meets AFSOC 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.
The purpose of asymmetric warfare is to 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.
The 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 SOF officer and enlisted personnel is the primary focus of SOF professional development. Courses in professional development include introduction to special operations, staff orientation, professional military education, and command preparation.
Joint operations is comprised of six joint special operations courses that educate SOF personnel in the areas of SOF doctrine, SOF air command and control, contemporary insurgency warfare, and civil-military operations. The School also conducts a joint search and rescue course.
As USAFSOS expands to meet an increasing demand for the "thinking warrior," the number of off-station courses (both formal courses and courses tailored to unit needs) has increased. The use of distance-learning technologies is growing to expand course availability. Video tele-instruction and web-based courses are becoming increasingly important in reaching USAFSOS' students.
Information on attending USAFOS courses can be found on the USAFSOS website at https://jsoupublic.socom.mil/welcome_commandant.php. Most courses are open on a first-come, first-serve basis. However, due to high demand and the unique nature of some courses, students must justify their attendance and be approved to attend specific courses.
Course security classifications range from unclassified to top secret. Students are responsible for ensuring security clearance requirements are met prior to attending courses.
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.
There are no tuition charges for US personnel attending USAFSOS courses. Travel and per diem costs per student average approximately $850. The owning unit funds student attendance.
- Dept of Asymetric Warfare
Commander's Responsibility Course (Level 3 Pre-Command AT Trng)
Dynamics of International Terrorism (Level 1 AT Awareness Trng)
Joint Operational Influence Seminar
Joint Senior Psychological Operations Course
Responsible Officers Course (Level 2 AT Officer Trng)
Space Applications for Special Operations Course
-Dept of Regional Affairs
Asia Pacific Orientation Course
Cross-Cultural Communications Course
Civil-Military Strategy for Internal Development
Latin America Orientation Course
Middle East Orientation Course
Russia/Eurasia Orientation Course
Sub-Saharan Africa Orientation Course
South/Central Asia Orientation Course
-Dept of Special Operations
Contemporary Insurgent Warfare Course
Insurgency and Foreign Internal Defense Course
Introduction to Special Operations Course
Joint Special Operations Air Component Course
Joint Special Operations Air Component Commander's Course
Joint Search and Rescue Coordinator's Course
Mission Commanders Course
Special Operations Liaison Element Course
The emblem is symbolic of the School and displays the Air Force colors, Air Force yellow and ultramarine blue. The laurel wreath cradling the world symbolizes a globe blessed by a peace with honor. Since the School is vitally concerned with counterinsurgency operations, the so called "Insurgency Belt", running from 35-degrees North to 35-degrees South is represented in red on the blue globe. The lamp and flame are traditional symbols of knowledge. It is this knowledge, provided in accordance with the training mission of the school, that tempers the use of airpower. That airpower is represented by the stylized aircraft facing the right of the emblem.
The motto "SCIENTIA VIRTUS PAX" is Latin for "Knowledge is Strength."