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Air University Catalog 

Squadron Officer College  
Aerospace Basic Course  
Lt Col Dale Shoupe, Commander  
Lt Col Marc Okyen, Vice Commander

The Aerospace Basic Course (ABC), taught at Maxwell Air Force Base, is for newly commissioned officers and selected civilians. This basic course is the first step in officer professional military education. ABC initially began as a test program named Air and Space Basic Course School in the summer of 1997 and became a formal course and unit named Aerospace Basic Course in January 1999. ABC shares the Squadron Officer School classrooms and dorms when an ABC course is in session.

The curriculum explores the foundations of aerospace doctrine, the six core competencies, and the employment of aerospace power. Each lesson focuses on the inherent strength of Air Force core values. New USAF officers are inspired to comprehend their roles as airmen who understand and live by USAF core values, articulate and demonstrate USAF core competencies, and dedicate themselves as warriors in the world's most respected aerospace force. Students develop a perspective for what the airman brings to the joint fight and learn how to fight and win through teamwork with other professional airmen. The Aerospace Basic Course is the first level of PME instruction for professional commissioned officers and for this reason is a marked contrast from precommissioning programs where students were college students and/or cadets.

The course is a four-week program built around indoor and outdoor classroom activities. The pinnacle of the course is Operation Blue Thunder, a three-day war game in field conditions, where students are thrust into key roles in an air operations center. Students exercise their theater aerospace campaign, including development of their own master air attack plan. This capstone exercise demonstrates to the student the teamwork required to successfully plan a joint aerospace campaign. War-gaming and application-level exercises are used throughout the course to maximize student learning level and comprehension.

Mission: Inspires new USAF officers to comprehend their roles as airmen; who understand and live by USAF core values, articulate and demonstrate USAF core competencies, and who dedicate themselves as warriors in the world's most respected aerospace force.

Goals: Through a shared dynamic experience, ABC commissioned officers and civilian equivalents will:

  • Comprehend how the unique capabilities of aerospace power support our national security policy.
  • Value the importance of personal ownership and commitment to their Air Force and profession of arms.


The Aerospace Basic Course curriculum consists of two interconnected modules of study. Module one is linear, each lesson builds on the preceding one and addresses the achievement of the first goal. The second module is nonlinear, strives to create affective change, and addresses achievement of the second goal.

To maximize the learning level of entry-level students in the intense four-week curriculum, ABC employs state-of-the-art educational technologies in the classroom to help students learn and instructors teach the material more effectively. They include:

  • DOD Digital Versatile Disk (DVD) classroom application "What Now, Lieutenant?" for presenting core values and ethics case studies for random access and full-screen, full-motion professional video segments.
  • Multiplayer networked commercial real-time strategy simulation Starcraft is played to reinforce application-level learning of two core competency areas, with an emphasis on the Air Force core competencies, joint service teamwork, integration of theory and doctrine concepts, crisis-action planning under stress, and decentralized execution. Flights are broken up into two teams, with each team playing against its sister flight.
  • Student Takeaway CD-ROM is given to each student at the beginning of the course. The CD contains all the readings and doctrine documents, most of the classroom presentations, and some of the simulations, for out-of-class study and to provide a reference for the graduate out in the operational Air Force.
  • Exported version of Air Force Wargaming Institute's (AFWI) Atlantis theater campaign simulation is played from the ABC classrooms to simulate a Joint Aerospace Operations Center. Students also operate half of the Blue Thunder capstone exercise from an austere forward deployment site in the role of an Expeditionary Operations Center.

Duration and Quota

Aerospace Basic Course is a four-week TDY course with more 160 hours of instruction. Students are billeted on base at Maxwell and class days average more than 8 hours in length. ABC will be taught eight times to nearly 780 students during academic year 2000-2001. Each class will have 12-36 seminars, with approximately 13 students per seminar.

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