SAASS awards 59 masters, two doctorates

by Christopher Kratzer
Air University Public Affairs

6/15/2012 - MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala.  -- The School of Advanced Air and Space Studies graduated its 21st class this week, when 59 students received Master of Philosophy in Military Strategy degrees.

The class is comprised of officers from each branch of service as well as international students from Britain, India, Germany, France, Australia and the Netherlands.

In addition to the 59 students receiving masters degrees, SAASS awarded Doctor of Philosophy in Military Strategy degrees to two former SAASS graduates. Col. Timothy Schultz, the commandant and dean of SAASS, said that this "represents a major new achievement for (Air University) and demonstrates its recent elevation to a doctoral-granting university."

SAASS, an Air Force graduate school, seeks to produce strategists through advanced education in the art and science of air, space and cyberspace power to defend the United States and protect its interests. This mission is critical, according to Schultz.

"Our mission is to 'educate strategists for the (Air Force) and the nation,' and our graduates should emerge from their rigorous year-long immersion in the theory and practice of military strategy with a new understanding of the relationship between power and statecraft," Schultz said. "SAASS enables them to develop the critical thinking skills and intellectual perspective to evaluate and employ national power in the dynamic modern environment."

As Airmen are faced with an ever-changing landscape of technological shifts and austere budget environments, Professional Military Education is more important than ever, according to Schultz.

"The Air University Board of Visitors recently affirmed with the secretary of the Air Force that 'intellectual capital is combat capital.' That captures our purpose quite well. Gen. Jimmy Doolittle, one of the outstanding combat Airmen and strategists in airpower history and who also possessed a Ph.D., got it right when he said, 'If we should have to fight, we should be prepared to do so from the neck up instead of from the neck down.'

Technological superiority is insufficient; America expects its AF to be led by men and women who can outthink our adversaries," Schultz said. "Those are the men and women we strive to produce from SAASS."

Lt. Col. Christopher MacAulay, the SAASS student class leader, and his classmates have experienced the benefits of PME, and the "intellectual capital" that students gain, first hand.

"In my mind, SAASS is a very unique PME and general education experience. Instead of teaching specific material, the SAASS methodology, curriculum, and professors expose the student to a wide range of disciplines and discussions, creating an environment that shapes how a person thinks," he said. "Opening the aperture to what and how a person thinks creates opportunity for previously unthought of solutions and ideas to be put forward in the hopes that better strategy develops."

Shultz, who will relinquish command of SAASS this month, said that working with the school has been a great privilege and he was proud of this year's graduating class.

"It has been a deep responsibility and privilege to work with our outstanding faculty and students to shape the development of future leaders for our Air Force as well as our joint partners and allies," Schultz said. "The human mind is the most powerful weapon in all of history, and educating Airmen to expand the life of the mind and seek informed, innovative strategies for an unknown future is absolutely critical. I was blessed to play a role in the noble, essential mission of SAASS."