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In 1950 Colonel Russell V. Ritchey founded SOS from the ashes of the Air Corps Tactical School with a vision to be “a military school solely devoted to developing the expertise of the officer within the military profession and to encompass the ‘whole man’ mentally, morally, and physically.”  SOS Instructors or “Red Pants,” are a commander, teacher, evaluator, counselor, mentor, and student.  Instructors are the “heart and soul of SOS.” 

Col Ritchey commented that “Before you can be a chief, you have to learn to be an Indian.”  And that is the ultimate mission of a “Red Pant,” to train today’s Indians to be tomorrow’s Chiefs.  We teach our students to do as the original motto of the school stated “to think or die” because they will one day make decisions which affect many. Within our history you will find the phrase “Cogito, Ergo, Sum” repeated. This means “I think therefore, I am.”  We have a proud heritage, and to become a Red Pant means you join a brotherhood dedicated to developing the future. Your time at SOS will be memorable, and for the rest of your life you’ll be able to proudly state, “Once and always a Red Pant.”

Benefits of being a Red Pant

1. You will become a better leader. Our unique environment allows you to draw from a multi-talented, yet diverse group of students and faculty to hone your skills and enhance your leadership profile.

Fifties Red Pant Instructor SOS Instructor SOS Instructor

From left to right: The Red Pant SOS Instructor: From 1950 to today.

2. A deeper understanding of AF doctrine roles, and missions. You are centered at the core of the Air Force's premier professional institutions: Air War College, Air Command and Staff College, Fairchild Research Library, Airpower Research Institute, Air University Press, Lemay Center for Doctrine and Development, and the Lemay Center Wargaming Institute. You will develop a deep understanding of the Air Force's role in the DoD and on the international stage first hand.

Lemay Center Wargaming Institute (LCWI) SOS Instructors at off-site professional development seminar SOS instructors learn about new USAF doctrine

From left to right: The Lemay Center Wargaming Institute, Red Pants engaged in an off-site, peer-led faculty development seminar, faculty learn about new USAF doctrine concepts for 2014.

3. You will meet living history. SOS hosts a number of famous officers, enlisted, and Senior Government officials. From POWs, Medal of Honor recipients, and Wounded warriors, our instructors are able to meet one-on-one with guest speakers for a truly once in a lifetime opportunity.

Red Pants meet with Historical Airman at the Gathering of Eagles luncheon Wounded Warrior MSgt Israel Del Toro Bataan Death March survivor Col Glenn Taylor

From left to right: Red Pants meet with Historical Airman at the Gathering of Eagles luncheon, Wounded Warrior MSgt Israel Del Toro at SOS, and Bataan Death March survivor Col Glenn Taylor.

4. You will be part of a tight-knit family. You may “belong” to a squadron but you’re always a Red Pant. We take care of each other and you’ll enjoy the benefits of a large peer group with solid leadership support.

Red Pant Referees at Field Day Working at the Montgomery food pantry SOS holiday party

From left to right: Red Pant Referees at Field Day, Working at the Montgomery food pantry, SOS holiday party

5. Autonomy. We encourage our instructors to be independent and innovative. SOC leadership fully supports any effort to deliver our curriculum in new and exciting ways.  Our instructors drive change, and we value every idea that tries to deliver a better experience for our students. 

SOS flightroom guided discussion working with US Army CGOs from Ft Benning’s School of Maneuver

From left to right: Hanging out in class, working with US Army CGOs from Ft Benning’s School of Maneuver.


1. Physical Prowess. Your PT test should show a score of 90 or better. Expect to PT every day you come to work. Our Instructors run a 5K per week and finish a two cross country events every 8 weeks. Your schedule varies daily but the consistent factor is PT. The sight of Red Pants running around Academic Circle at Maxwell has been a staple at Maxwell since 1950.

SOS Team Leadership Problem SOS Team Leadership Problem SOS instructor with US Army and International officers at Project X

From left to right: Red Pants leading SOS students on a Team Leadership Problem around Academic Circle; Red Pant instructor working with US Army and International Officers at Project X.

2. Subject Matter Expert.  Our Instructors practice what they teach and you will become a subject matter expert. The CSAF has a reading list and our instructors are well-versed in what it has to offer. Our instructors blend their academic and tactical knowledge for our students every day.

SOS library in 1959 Books available to Red Pants instructors for personal development

From left to right: The SOS library in 1959; professional books available to Red Pants instructors for personal development.

3. Leadership. SOS is THE AF leadership school and our instructors lead every day in the classroom. Every class you will engage, motivate, and mentor 14 fellow captains, civilians, senior NCOs, and international officers from around the world. Diverse backgrounds, religions, and gender will all play a key role in your leadership development; you WILL be a stronger officer after your SOS tour.


1. Contact your functional team. You’ll need to secure a release from your primary AFSC for instructor duty. On your ADP, make sure your volunteer for instructor duty and state “I wish to be an SOS instructor.”

2. SOS will pull the following information to prescreen all potential Red Pant instructors:

- Fitness history off the AF Fitness Management System (AFFMS)
- SOS training report. Instructors are expected to have graduated in the middle to Top Third of their SOS class
- Your last several OPRs. SOS looks for instructors with operational experience and strong leadership skills|
- An interview with your squadron leadership

3. Instructors are placed on a Code 50 "stabilized tour:" IAW AFI 36-2110 Personnel Assignments, Table 2.1 Rule 41 & 42, and the length is determined/controlled by HQ USAF and HQ AFPC.

4. Upon successful completion of a tour as an SOS instructor, your SOS squadron commander will work with AFPC Functional Managers to ensure appropriate follow-on assignments meet your career progression goals.

5. For further information, read the Squadron Officer College Handbook or contact SOS Student Services at DSN 493-4SOC (4762).


Theories and Principles of Adult Education (TPAE) acquaints new SOC flight commander candidates with basic flight room educational concepts they will need to execute the SOS curriculum. Emphasis is on instructional methodologies, educational theory, and classroom management techniques.  The course provides an overview/orientation of basic curriculum development concepts including ISD, lesson design and execution, and evaluation.

Advanced Principles of Instructional Design (APID) equips newly assigned SOC curriculum developers with information and experience necessary to design and develop world-class curriculum for the USAF’s only Company Grade PME institution. Emphasis is on the analysis, design and development of curriculum through knowledge of ISD principles. Evaluation principles and test-item analysis are also thoroughly discussed.

Practical Applications of Adult Education (PAAE) provides new SOC flight commander candidates with a series of seminars and a practical experience in executing the SOS curriculum. Emphasis is on the execution of instructional methods and classroom-management techniques, focused on the SOS curriculum.


Last Updated: 21 January 2017