Air University (United States Air Force)

The Air University

Emblem of Air University

Part of Air Education and Training Command
Active 1920–1942; 1943 – present
Country United States of America
Branch United States Air Force
Type Professional Military Education
Lt Gen Steven L. Kwast[1]

The Air University (AU) is a component of the United States Air Force's Air Education and Training Command, headquartered at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama. The Air University is the U.S. Air Force's primary center for professional military education (PME).


Air Force Institute of Technology
Air War College
USAF Counterproliferation Center
Air Force Fellows
School of Advanced Air and Space Studies
Air Command and Staff College
Squadron Officer College
Squadron Officer School International Officers School Curtis E. LeMay Center for Doctrine Development & Education
Education Logistics and Communications
Ira C. Eaker College for Professional Development
Commanders' Professional Development School
Air Force Chaplain Corps College
Air Force Personnel Professional Development School
Defense Financial Management & Comptroller School
National Security Space Institute
Jeanne M. Holm Center for Officer Accessions and Citizen Development
Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps
Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps
Civilian Acculturation and Leadership Training (CALT)
Officer Training School
Thomas N. Barnes Center for Enlisted Education
Airman Leadership School
Air Force Enlisted Heritage Research Institute
Air Force Senior Noncommissioned Officer Academy
Air Force Noncommissioned Officer Academy
Correspondence Courses
Community College of the Air Force
USAF First Sergeant Academy

Schools and Centers

The institutions that fall under The Air University include:

Enlisted Professional Military Education

The Thomas N. Barnes Center for Enlisted Education (formerly the College for Enlisted Professional Military Education) is responsible for the instructional programs and faculty development for all Air Force enlisted professional military education programs. This includes the Airman Leadership Schools, Noncommissioned Officer Academies and the Air Force Senior Noncommissioned Officer Academy.

Air Force Senior Noncommissioned Officer Academy

The Air Force Senior Noncommissioned Officer Academy graduates more than 1,800 Air Force chief master sergeant selectees, senior master sergeants, senior master sergeant selectees, and non-commissioned officers and chief petty officers from other U.S. military services and the services of international U.S.-Allied nations annually. It is located on Maxwell AFB's Gunter Annex.

NCO Academies

The NCO Academies provide selected noncommissioned officers quality professional military education to develop their skills and responsibilities in the United States Air Force. The objective is for the student to gain an understanding of their positions in the military structure and the need to develop the skills necessary for effectiveness in those supervisory positions. Several NCO Academies operate worldwide on various Air Force installations.

Airman Leadership School

The mission of Airman Leadership School is to prepare Air Force personnel in the rank of senior airmen for supervisory duties and foster a commitment to the profession of arms. The goal of the program is to provide senior airmen an opportunity to understand more fully their position in the USAF organizational structure and the continued need for professional development to be effective NCOs.

First Sergeant Academy

The First Sergeant Academy's mission is to develop through education and training selected senior noncommissioned officers to serve as advisors to commanders on issues that impact our Airmen in successfully accomplishing our Air Force mission. The academy's vision is to execute a standardized, state-of-the-art program to maximize first sergeant's capabilities and develop enlisted leaders for the United States Air Force.

Enlisted Heritage Research Institute

The Enlisted Heritage Research Institute is dedicated to preserving the rich and dramatic heritage and tradition of the enlisted corps of the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Army Aeronautical Division, Air Service, Air Corps and Air Forces in the development of air power to defend the United States. The Institute achieves this by featuring artifacts, collections, and pictorial exhibits, written and oral documentation, audiovisuals, equipment, and selected aircraft parts. Additionally, students use the in-house and on-line research capabilities to enhance learning and complete enlisted heritage research projects.

Officer Professional Military Education

The Spaatz Center for Officer Education unifies the continuum of Air Force officer professional military education. Activated on 29 Apr 2008, the Spaatz Center is named in honor of the Air Force's first Chief of Staff, General Carl A. Spaatz. The Spaatz Center remains committed to being the global leader in officer education by developing leaders, spurring innovation, and nurturing partnerships to advance air power.

Squadron Officer College

Squadron Officer College (SOC) was a short-lived successor to the previous legacy twelve-week and later eight-week Squadron Officer School (SOS), SOC was a shortened five-week version of the previously conducted SOS for Captains. SOC was based on the premise of all newly commissioned USAF 2d Lieutenants from all accession sources (e.g., USAFA, AFROTC, OTS, etc.) attending the since-discontinued six-week Air and Space Basic Course (ASBC) at Maxwell AFB as 2d Lieutenants prior to reporting to their initial duty assignments. Under the ASBC/SOC construct, these same officers would return to Maxwell AFB three to four years later as Captains in order to complete the five-week SOC course as a temporary duty (TDY) assignment in residence.

SOC's mission was to develop company grade officers as leaders of integrity, ready, willing and able to overcome the challenges of today’s complex security environment. SOC and its successor, the since-reinstated eight-week Squadron Officer School (SOS), provided/provides a professional military education experience devoted to junior officer leadership development. SOC was open to all active duty Regular Air Force, Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard Captains (O-3), their international counterparts, and civilian equivalents. SOC was disestablished 28 June 2011.

With the disestablishment of SOC on 28 June 2011 by the Chief of Staff of the Air Force and the announcement that ASBC would be eliminated, Squadron Officer School (SOS) was reinstated back to its original duration as an eight-week resident program at Maxwell AFB. The goal is 100% opportunity for in-residence attendance by all active duty USAF and most Air Reserve Component (e.g., Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard) Captains. The SOS distance learning program will remain to provide a method to complete Base Development Education (BDE) for those officers whose situation, primarily those in the Air Reserve Component, precludes them from attending SOS in residence.

Air Command and Staff College

Air Command and Staff College (ACSC) is a 10-month master’s level resident program that prepares field grade USAF, U.S. Army and USMC officers in pay grade O-4 and USN / USCG officers in pay grade O-4, their international counterparts, and U.S. civilian equivalents, for positions of higher responsibility within the military and other government agencies. ACSC is also available via "distance learning," primarily a CD-ROM enabled correspondence course.

Air War College

Air War College (AWC) is a 10-month resident course for USAF, U.S. Army and USMC Lieutenant Colonels and Colonels (pay grades O-5 and O-6), USN and USCG Commanders and Captains (pay grade O-5 and O-6), their international counterparts, and Department of Defense and Department of the Air Force civilian equivalents (GS-14/GM-14, GS-15/GM-15). AWC prepares students to lead in a joint, interagency and multi-national environment at the strategic level of military operations. AWC is also available at the Pentagon and selected active USAF installations as a 10-month seminar program paralleling the academic year and course content of the resident course. It is also available via "distance learning" as a correspondence course.

International Officer School

The International Officer School (IOS) is a seven-week course designed to provide international officers an enhanced understanding of the United States and prepares them for attending Squadron Officer School, Air Command and Staff College, and/or the Air War College.

Officer Accessions

The Jeanne M. Holm Center for Officer Accessions and Citizen Development (Holm Center), previously known as Air Force Officer Accession and Training Schools (AFOATS), operates two of the four USAF officer commissioning sources. These are the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps (AFROTC) at civilian colleges and universities, and the Air Force Officer Training School (OTS) at Maxwell AFB.

Although they are USAF officer accession and training programs, the United States Air Force Academy (USAFA) and the Air National Guard's Academy of Military Science (AMS) do not fall under the Air University. The U.S. Air Force Academy is a Direct Reporting Unit (DRU), and the Superintendent of the USAF Academy reports directly to the Chief of Staff of the Air Force. Admission to and administration of the ANG Academy of Military Science is controlled by the National Guard Bureau.

Citizenship Development, Aerospace Education, and Associated Programs

Through the Holm Center, the Air University also administers the Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (AFJROTC) program. This program provides citizenship training and air and space science education via a cadet program for high school students in grades 9 through 12 at various high schools across the United States and at select Department of Defense Dependent Schools (DoDDS) at US military installations overseas. Instruction is conducted by retired field grade USAF officers employed by the respective school systems, assisted by retired USAF senior non-commissioned officers under similar employment.

The Air University is also the command echelon equivalent to a numbered air force for the Civil Air Patrol (CAP). CAP is a private, corporately chartered, civilian non-profit organization headquartered at Maxwell AFB and concurrently designated as the U.S. Air Force Auxiliary (USAF Aux). CAP is sponsored by the Air Force, but it is a civilian entity and not an operating Air Reserve Component (ARC) like the Air Force Reserve Command or the Air National Guard. Under its congressionally assigned missions, CAP provides a fleet of general aviation aircraft, multipurpose vehicles, ground support units, communications support units and trained adult members with a USAF-style rank structure available in support of domestic search and rescue, disaster relief, and other emergency services and homeland defense/homeland security activities; an aerospace education for youth and the general public; and a cadet program for middle school/junior high school, high school and undergraduate college and university students between ages 11 and 21. The CAP program is established as an organization by Title 10 of the United States Code and its purposes defined by Title 36. CAP is commanded by a Civil Air Patrol major general, functioning as a full-time employee of the CAP corporation at Maxwell AFB, overseeing 52 wings assigned to each state, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia. The CAP commander is supported by an active duty aeronautically rated USAF colonel as the senior USAF-CAP Advisor. Air University oversight of CAP is delegated to the Holm Center.

Academic education

The Community College of the Air Force (CCAF) is the only degree-granting institution of higher learning in the world dedicated exclusively to enlisted military personnel. CCAF offers educational opportunities for active duty, Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve airmen and NCOs to earn a job-related, two-year undergraduate associate of applied science degree. CCAF also facilitates selected professional certification and recognition for airmen. Possession of a CCAF degree has in recent years become a de facto mandatory requirement for promotion to Senior Master Sergeant and higher, regardless of whether or not the candidate has a civilian degree such as a baccalaureate. This de facto status is now official: starting with the 2007 promotion cycle, promotion candidates cannot receive critical endorsements on performance reports without having first received an associate degree from CCAF.

The Air Force Institute of Technology (AFIT) is a geographically separated unit (GSU) of Air University, located at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio. AFIT supports the Air Force and national defense through responsive degree-granting postgraduate and professional continuing education, research and consulting services to Air Force and Department of Defense agencies. Graduate-level work offers selected Air Force members, Air Force civilians, and international officers the broad educational experience necessary for understanding the role of technology in national defense and in analyzing and solving defense-related problems.

Professional continuing education

The LeMay Center for Doctrine Development and Education, previously known as the Air Force Doctrine Development and Education Center, develops and publishes Air Force doctrine, teaches doctrine through resident and on-line courses, and advocates air power through visionary war gaming, and provides Integration and outreach services for Air University.

The Ira C. Eaker College for Professional Development provides continuing education and technical training to Air Force and other Department of Defense personnel and international officers, including resident and distance-learning courses for a variety of Air Force specialties.

Advanced Professional Military Education

The School of Advanced Air and Space Studies (SAASS) is the U.S. Air Force's graduate school for air power, space power and cyber power strategists. A highly qualified and motivated faculty, a small and very carefully selected student body, a coherent and challenging curriculum, an outstanding educational and research resources, and a well-designed facility combine to produce tomorrow's senior military leaders who are experts in the employment of air, space and cyberspace forces. SAASS is a follow-on school for selected graduates of intermediate-level professional military education schools. The focus of SAASS is to educate officers in the art and science of air, space and cyberspace warfare to enhance the Air Force's capacity to defend the United States through the control and exploitation of air and space.



History and insignia of Air Corps Tactical School bestowed upon activation.
Established as Major Command: 29 November 1945
Reassigned to Air Training Command on 15 May 1978, losing major command status
Returned to major command status effective 1 July 1983
Changed from a major command of the United States Air Force to a subordinate organization of Air Education and Training Command on 1 July 1993.



For World War II units and stations assigned, see Army Air Forces School of Applied Tactics.

During the years 1943–1945, the Army Air Force School of Applied Tactics operated a combat simulation facility in central Florida. Units and various main operating bases and auxiliary airfields were established throughout an 8,000-square-mile (21,000 km2) area of north central Florida designated a mock "war theater" stretching roughly from Tampa through Orlando, east to Titusville, north to Starke, and northwest to Apalachicola in which air war games were conducted.


The Wright Brothers established the first U.S. civilian flying school in Montgomery, Alabama in 1910. By the 1920s, Montgomery became an important link in the growing system of aerial mail service. It was in the early 1930s when the Army Air Corps Tactical School moved to Maxwell Field and Montgomery became the country's intellectual center for airpower education.

Air University (AU), established in 1946, continues the proud tradition of educating tomorrow's planners and leaders, in air and space power for the Air Force, other branches of the U.S. Armed Forces, federal government civilians and many international organizations. Today, AU has a reach worldwide affecting the careers of every Air Force member.


As a result of the US Army Reorganization Act of 1920, the Air Service authorized the establishment of an Air Service School on 10 February 1921 at Langley Field, Virginia. To reflect its primary mission of preparing senior officers for higher Air Service duty, the Air Service redesignated the Air Service School as the Air Service Field Officers' School.

Following the decision to let all Air Service officers attend the institution in 1922, the Air Service redesignated the Air Service Field Officers' School as the Air Service Tactical School. In conjunction with the 1926 redesignation of the Army Air Service as the Army Air Corps, the Air Service Tactical School became the Air Corps Tactical School. To take advantage of the propitious climate and facilities expansion potential, the Army Air Corps began moving the Air Corps Tactical School from Langley Field in Virginia in 1931 to Maxwell Field, Alabama.

World War II

Because of the wartime need for officers of the caliber of those attending the Maxwell institution, in May 1941 the Army Air Corps suspended instruction at the tactical school and reduced its faculty and staff to seven officers. Anticipating the institution's eventual reopening, the Army Air Corps moved the skeletonized Air Corps Tactical School to Washington, D.C., and placed it under the Directorate of Individual Training. In spite of the institution's successful efforts in developing Air Corps planners and leaders, the Air Corps discontinued the Air Corps Tactical School on 9 October 1942 with the intention of reopening it after the war.

To partially fill the educational void left by the discontinuance of the Tactical School and to correct the growing shortage of experienced Air Corps, later renamed Army Air Forces, officers, the Army Air Forces authorized the establishment of the Army Air Forces School of Applied Tactics on 9 Oct 42. The Army Air Forces activated the AAF School of Applied Tactics at Orlando Army Air Base, Florida, with the mission to train "selected officers" under simulated combat conditions. Based on lessons learned in the combat theaters and the school's actual operational experiences, the AAF established the AAF Tactical Center with the AAF School of Applied Tactics as a subordinate unit. Due to a major reorganization of the Tactical Center and a change in the types of courses conducted by the institution, the Army Air Forces redesignated the AAF School of Applied Tactics as the AAF School on 1 Jun 45.

Postwar era

In preparation for its post-war educational operations, the Army Air Forces transferred the AAF School from Orlando AAB to Maxwell Field, Alabama on 29 November 1945 and assigned it directly to Headquarters, U.S. Army Air Forces (HQ AAF) as a major command.

In the first conclave of its kind since the end of World War II, the AAF Educational Conference ended after a three-day meeting on 20 Feb 1945 to discuss the post-war AAF educational structure. The Army Air Forces began the first instructor training course in March 1946 for preparing instructors to teach at the post-war AAF educational institutions.

HQ AAF redesignated the Army Air Forces School as Air University (AU) on 12 March 1946 and established the Air War College, Air Command and Staff School, and Air Tactical School as its subordinate units. The AU commander organized the Air University Board of Visitors, composed of senior educators and university administrators, to meet regularly and advise him on educational matters.

Air University became operational on 1 April 1946 when HQ AAF transferred the School of Aviation Medicine at Randolph Field, Texas, from Air Training Command to Air University. To take advantage of existing facilities, Air University transferred the Air Tactical School from Maxwell Field to Tyndall Field, Florida on 21 May 1946. Major General Orvil A. Anderson was appointed the first commandant of the Air War College, the senior school in the three-tiered AAF officer professional military education (PME) system.

Assuming responsibilities comparable to those of the Army and Navy advisers on the HQ AU staff, the Royal Air Force Liaison Officer also became a part of the HQ AU staff on 1 June 1946. When members of the Air University Board of Visitors concluded their first meeting with such dignitaries as General Carl Spaatz, Commanding General of the Army Air Forces; Air Marshall Hugh Pughe Lloyd of the Royal Air Force; and the class members of the Air War College and the Air Command and Staff School participating, the Air University was officially dedicated during a ceremony at Maxwell Field.

Classes began at the Air War College and the Air Command and Staff School on 4 September 1946, fulfilling the "dream for education in airpower" of most post-war AAF leaders and planners. The Air Tactical School, the junior officer PME program of the AU educational system, began classes at Tyndall in January 1947. Later that year, the Royal Canadian Air Force sent its first group of students to the two-week indoctrination course at Maxwell. With Secretary of War Robert P. Patterson as the guest speaker, the Air War College and the Air Command and Staff School conducted a combined graduation ceremony for 185 senior and field grade officers.

As a result of the National Security Act of 1947, the United States Air Force became a separate and independent branch of the U.S. military on 18 September 1947. In keeping with the Air Force's new status, Headquarters, U.S. Air Force (HQ USAF) redesignated Maxwell Field as Maxwell Air Force Base on 13 January 1948.

On 12 July 1949, HQ USAF established the Air University Human Resources Research Institute. It was one of three USAF field agencies created to conduct research on the human factor in Air Force planning and operations. Air University established the 3894th AU School Squadron to provide administrative support to Air Force instructors and students at the various service schools operated by the Army, Navy, and Marine Corps. With a mission to "...preserve for those who come after us an accurate and objective account of our present experience...", the USAF Historical Division relocated to Maxwell AFB from Washington, DC, in September 1949 and became a part of the Air University Library. The combined activity is now known as the Air Force Historical Research Agency (AFHRA).


Air University was awarded the Space Foundation's inaugural Space Achievement award in 1995[2]


External links

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