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Although part of the US Military since 1907 the modern US Air Force evolved into being via the noble and gallant efforts of the US Army Air Corps during World War II.
Rapid demobilization of forces immediately after World War II, although sharply reducing the size of the Army Air Forces, left untouched the nucleus of the postwar United States Air Force (USAF). A War Department letter of March 21, 1946, created two new commands and redesignated an existing one: Continental Air Forces was redesignated Strategic Air Command, and the resources of what had been Continental Air Forces were divided among Strategic Air Command and the two newcomers - Air Defense Command and Tactical Air Command. These three commands and the older Air Transport Command represented respectively the strategic, tactical, defense, and airlift missions that provided the foundation for building the postwar, independent Air Force.The National Security Act of 1947 became law on July 26, 1947. It created the Department of the Air Force, headed by a Secretary of the Air Force.
Under the Department of the Air Force, the act established the United States Air Force, headed by the Chief of Staff, USAF. On Sept. 18, 1947, W. Stuart Symington became Secretary of the Air Force, and on Sept. 26, Gen. Carl A. Spaatz became the USAF's first Chief of Staff.
Air Combat has always been a mainstay of the Air Force.
The New Air Combat Command, with headquarters at Langley Air Force Base, Va., is a major command created June 1, 1992 by combining its predecessors Strategic Air Command and Tactical Air Command . ACC is the primary provider of air combat forces to America's unified combatant commands.
Air Combat Command mission is to be the primary force provider of combat airpower to America's warfighting commands. To support global implentation of national security strategy, ACC operates fighter, bomber, reconnaissance, battle-management, and electronic-combat aircraft. It also provides command, control, communications and intelligence systems, and conducts global information operations.
As a force provider, ACC organizes, trains, equips and maintains combat-ready forces for rapid deployment and employment while ensuring strategic air defense forces are ready to meet the challenges of peacetime air sovereignty and wartime air defense. ACC numbered air forces provide air componency to U.S. Central and Southern Commands with Headquarters ACC serving as the air component to U.S. Northern and Joint Forces Commands. ACC also augments forces to U.S. European, Pacific and Strategic Commands.
Personnel and Resources
More than 110,000 active-duty members and civilians make up ACC's work force. When mobilized, more than 61,000 members of the Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve, along with about 618 aircraft, are assigned to ACC. In total, ACC and ACC-gained units fly more than 1,750 aircraft.
ACC's forces are organized under four numbered air forces, one Air Force Reserve numbered air force and four primary subordinate units. The command operates 15 major bases, including tenant units on 13 non-ACC bases throughout the United States. ACC also has responsibility for inland search and rescue in the 48 contiguous states. The ACC commander is the component commander of U.S. Air Forces - Joint Forces Command and U.S. Strategic Command.
Numbered Air Forces
First Air Force, with headquarters at Tyndall AFB, Fla., provides surveillance and command and control for air defense forces for the continental United States in support of the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD). As an ACC numbered air force, it provides the forces necessary for the defense of the United States.
First Air Force units include the Continental United States Regional Air Operations Center, NORAD System Support Facility and the Southeast Air Defense Sector at Tyndall AFB, Fla., the Northeast Air Defense Sector in Rome, N.Y., and the Western Air Defense Sector at McChord AFB, Wash. Ten Air National Guard fighter wings are assigned to 1st Air Force, and as many as 30 ANG fighter wings reported to this numbered air force during the early months of Operation Noble Eagle.
Eighth Air Force, with headquarters at Barksdale Air Force, La., supports Air Combat Command in providing command and control, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (C2ISR); long-range attack; and information operations forces to Air Force components and warfighting commands. Eighth Air Force trains, tests, exercises and demonstrates combat-ready forces for rapid employment worldwide. Eighth Air Force provides conventional forces to U.S. Joint Forces Command and provides nuclear capable bombers, specified Global Strike assets, and C2ISR capabilities to U.S. Strategic Command. Eighth Air Force also supports STRATCOM's Joint Force Headquarters - Information Operations and serves as the command element for Air Force wide computer network operations.
Other Eighth Air Force units include the 67th Information Operations Wing, Lackland AFB, Texas; the 70th Intelligence Wing, Fort Meade, Md.; the 116th Air Control Wing (E-8C JSTARS), Robins AFB, Ga.; 552nd Air Control Wing (E-3B/C), Tinker AFB, Okla,; the 819th RED HORSE Squadron, Malmstrom AFB, Mont.; and the 3rd Air Support Operations Group, Fort Hood, Texas.
Barksdale AFB, La. -- 2nd Bomb Wing: B-52H
Beale AFB, Calif. -- 9th Reconnaissance Wing: U-2, T-38. Selected as beddown base for RQ-48 Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicle
Minot AFB, N.D. -- 5th Bomb Wing: B-52H
Offutt AFB, Neb. -- 55th Wing: E-4B, RC-135S/U/V/W, TC-135W, WC-135W, OC-135B
Whiteman AFB, Mo. -- 509th Bomb Wing: B-2, T-38
Ninth Air Force, with headquarters at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., controls ACC fighter forces based on the East Coast of the United States, and serves as the air component for a 25-nation area within the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility.
Other Ninth Air Force units include: 33rd Fighter Wing (F-15C/D), Eglin AFB, Fla.; 18th Air Support Operations Group, Pope AFB, N.C.; 820th Security Forces Group, Moody AFB, Ga.; 823d RED HORSE Squadron, Hurlburt Field, Fla.; and the 5th Combat Communications Group, Robins AFB, Ga.
Langley AFB, Va. -- Headquarters Air Combat Command, 1st Fighter Wing: F-15C/D, selected as first operational F/A-22 wing (planes begin arriving in 2004)
Seymour-Johnson AFB, N.C. -- 4th Fighter Wing: F-15E. The 23rd Fighter Group at Pope AFB (A-10/OA-10) is part of the 4th Fighter Wing.
Shaw AFB, S.C. -- Headquarters 9th Air Force; 20th Fighter Wing: F-16C/D
Tenth Air Force, located at Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base, Fort Worth, Texas, directs the activities of more than 13,300 reservists and 900 civilians located at 28 installations throughout the United States.
The mission of the Tenth Air Force is to exercise command supervision of its assigned Reserve units to ensure they maintain the highest combat capability to augment active forces in support of national objectives. Tenth Air Force currently commands Air Force Reserve Command units gained by five other major commands, including Air Combat Command. ACC-gained units consist of six fighter wings, three air rescue units, one bomber squadron, one combat operations squadron, and one airborne warning and control group when mobilized.
Twelfth Air Force,with headquarters at Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz., controls ACC's conventional fighter and bomber forces based in the western United States and has the warfighting responsibility for U.S. Southern Command as well as the U.S. Southern Air Forces.
Other Twelfth Air Force units include: 388th Fighter Wing (F-16C/D), Hill AFB, Utah; 1st Air Support Operations Group, Fort Lewis, Wash.; 3rd Combat Communications Group, Tinker AFB, Okla.; and 820th RED HORSE Squadron, Nellis AFB, Nev.
Cannon AFB, N.M. -- 27th Fighter Wing: F-16C/D
Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz. -- Headquarters 12th Air Force; 355th Wing: A/OA-10 (EC-130H, stationed at Davis-Monthan, is an Eighth Air Force asset and controlled by the 55th Wing at Offutt Air Force Base)
Dyess AFB, Texas -- 7th Bomb Wing: B-1
Ellsworth AFB, S.D. -- 28th Bomb Wing: B-1
Holloman AFB, N.M. -- 49th Fighter Wing: F-117, T-38, F-4F
Mountain Home AFB, Idaho -- 366th Fighter Wing: F-15C/D/E, F-16D, F-16C/J, and the Air Expeditionary Force Battlelab
Primary Subordinate Units
Air Warfare Center, at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., conducts the Air Force's advanced weapons and tactics training, manages advanced pilot training and is responsible for the operational test and evaluation of ACC's combat weapons systems. The UAV Battlelab, and the Command and Control Training and Innovation Group located at Hurlburt Field, Fla. are assigned to the center.
Also at Nellis is the 57th Wing (A-10, F-15C/D/E, F-16C/D, HH-60G and RQ-1A/B Predator unmanned aerial vehicle); 99th Air Base Wing, 98th Range Wing, U.S. Air Force Air-Ground Operations School, U.S. Air Force Weapons School, U.S. Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron (the Thunderbirds) and the 414th Combat Training Squadron (Red Flag). Also assigned are the UAV Battlelab and the Command and Control Training and Innovation Group, located at Hurlburt Field, Fla
The 53rd Wing at Eglin AFB, Fla. is assigned to the Air Warfare Center. The 53rd Wing's subordinate units include the 53rd Test and Evaluation Group (A-10, F-15A/C/E, F-16C/D, F/A-22, B-1, B-2, B-52, HH-60G, RQ-1 Predator and RQ-4 Global Hawk) at Nellis, the 53rd Electronic Warfare Group at Eglin, and the 53rd Weapons Evaluation Group (E-9) at Tyndall AFB, Fla. Also, the 53rd Test Management Group at Eglin coordinates the wing's test process, directing resources and priorities within the wing nationwide.
The Air Intelligence Agency, with headquarters at Lackland AFB, Texas, was activated Oct. 1, 1993. On Feb. 1, 2001, AIA was realigned under ACC and Eighth Air Force. The agency serves as their primary information operations force provider normalizing and synchronizing information operations capabilities into the warfighter's arsenal. With the realignment, the AIA commander serves as the Eighth Air Force deputy commander for information operations. AIA's mission is to gain, exploit, defend and attack information to ensure superiority in the air, space and information domains. The agency's more than 13,000 people worldwide deliver flexible collection, tailored air and space intelligence, weapons monitoring, and information warfare products and services. AIA also includes the National Air Intelligence Center, Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio; and the Air Force Information Warfare Center, also at Lackland.
The Air and Space Expeditionary Force Center, located at Langley AFB, aids expeditionary air force operations by assisting in the planning and scheduling of AEF assets, identifying and refining training requirements, guiding deployment and redeployment planning, monitoring readiness, and providing continuity across the AEF spectrum.
An Air Force motto is “ Aim High” to those in Special Forces who know you might be engaging a target superior to those of us on the ground we trust you will retain our Jolly Death Head Pilot's cry and \"Aim well\" ... For nothing more than our own sorry asses back on the ground or deck!