For AF officers, Squadron Officer School is the first tier of Professional Military Education. AF sends 70-80% of captains to this course in residence, but offers the course via distance learning to all captains. To be competitive to earn an in-residence allocation, an officer generally has to prove he/she is "all in" by first completing the distance learning course first. This essentially seals the AF into a system of duplicated effort; 70-80% of officers are doing SOS twice.
Some will argue that there is learning value in the distance course, but most would agree that the learning value is minimal because of the delivery method. Students need interaction with instructors and other students in a school setting to internalize the lessons of SOS. Whatever minimal value there is, it comes as great expense to the institution. AF pays a large number of military officers and GS employees to write, edit, audit, certify, publish, distribute, and administer SOS by distance learning. The entire constituency devoted to the distance learning course could be either completely eliminated at a savings of tens of millions of dollars annually, or the savings recapitalized to expand the in-residence opportunity to 100% and allow all captains to attend.