The Department of the Air Force was created when President Harry
S. Truman signed the National Security Act of 1947. It became effective
Sept. 18, 1947, when Chief Justice Fred M. Vinson administered the
oath of office to the first secretary of the Air Force, W. Stuart
Symington, a position filled by presidential appointment.
Under the National Security Act, the functions assigned to the Army
Air Force's commanding general transferred to the Department of
the Air Force. The act provided for an orderly two-year transfer
of these functions as well as property, personnel and records.
Later, under the Department of Defense Reorganization Act of 1958,
the departments of Army, Navy and Air Force were eliminated from
the chain of operational command. Commanders of unified and specified
commands became responsible to the president and the secretary of
defense through the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The act redefined the
functions of the military departments to those of essentially organizing,
training, equipping and supporting combat forces for the unified
and specified commands. Each military department retained resource
management of its service.
Currently, Air Force resources include eight major commands, 37
field operating agencies, three direct reporting units, 96 major
installations in the United States and overseas, and more than three-quarters
of a million active-duty, Air National Guard, Air Force Reserve
and civilian personnel.
Air Force Vision
Air Force people building the world's most respected air and space
force - global power and reach for America.
Air Force Mission
The mission of the U.S. Air Force is to defend the United States
through control and exploitation of air and space. Teamed with the
Army, Navy and Marine Corps, the Air Force is prepared to fight
and win any war if deterrence fails. The Air Force is responsible
* aircraft and missile forces necessary to prevent or fight
a general war.
* land-based air forces needed to establish air superiority, interdict
the enemy and provide air support of ground forces in combat.
* the primary aerospace forces for the defense of the United States
against air and missile attack.
* the primary airlift capability for use by all of the nation's
* major space research and development support for the Department
* assistance to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration
to conduct the space program Air Force Management
The Department of the Air Force incorporates all elements of the
U.S. Air Force. It is administered by a civilian secretary appointed
by the president and is supervised by a military chief of staff.
The Secretariat and Air Staff help the secretary and the chief of
staff direct the Air Force mission.
To assure unit preparedness and overall effectiveness of the Air
Force, the secretary of the Air Force is responsible for and has
the authority to conduct all affairs of the Department of the Air
Force. This includes training, operations, administration, logistical
support and maintenance, and welfare of personnel. The secretary's
responsibilities include research and development, and any other
activity prescribed by the president or the secretary of defense.
The secretary of the Air Force exercises authority through civilian
assistants and the chief of staff, but retains immediate supervision
of activities that involve vital relationships with Congress, the
secretary of defense, other governmental officials and the public.
Principal civilian assistants within the Secretariat are the under
secretary of the Air Force, deputy under secretary for international
affairs, assistant secretary for acquisition, assistant secretary
for space, assistant secretary for manpower, reserve affairs, installations
and environment, and assistant secretary for financial management
The Office of the Secretary of the Air Force includes a general
counsel, auditor general, inspector general, administrative assistant,
public affairs director, legislative liaison director, small and
disadvantaged business utilization director and certain statutory
boards and committees.
The Air Staff
The chief of staff, U.S. Air Force, is appointed by the president,
with the consent of the Senate, from among Air Force general officers
- normally for a four-year term. He serves as a member of the Joint
Chiefs of Staff and the Armed Forces Policy Council. In the JCS
capacity, he is one of the military advisers to the president, the
National Security Council and the secretary of defense. Also, he
is the principal adviser to the secretary of the Air Force on Air
The chief of staff presides over the Air Staff, transmits Air Staff
plans and recommendations to the secretary of the Air Force and
acts as the secretary's agent in carrying them out. He is responsible
for the efficiency of the Air Force and the preparation of its forces
for military operations. He supervises the administration of Air
Force personnel assigned to unified organizations and unified and
specified commands. Also, he supervises support of these forces
assigned by the Air Force as directed by the secretary of defense.
In addition, the chief of staff has responsibility for activities
assigned to the Air Force by the secretary of defense.
Other members of the Air Staff are the vice chief of staff, assistant
vice chief of staff, chief master sergeant of the Air Force, deputy
chief of staff for personnel, deputy chief of staff for plans and
operations, deputy chief of staff for logistics, deputy chief of
staff for command, control, communications and computers, assistant
chief of staff for intelligence, civil engineer, chief of safety,
chief of security police, Air Force historian, chief scientist,
chief of the Air Force Reserve, chief of the National Guard Bureau,
the U.S. Air Force Scientific Advisory Board, judge advocate general,
director of test and evaluation, director of programs and evaluation,
surgeon general, chief of chaplains, and director for services.
The eight major commands, 37 field operating agencies, three direct
reporting units and their subordinate elements constitute the field
organization that carries out the Air Force mission. In addition,
there are two reserve components, the Air Force Reserve and the
Air National Guard.
Major commands are organized on a functional basis in the United
States and a geographic basis overseas. They accomplish designated
phases of Air Force worldwide activities. Also, they organize, administer,
equip and train their subordinate elements for the accomplishment
of assigned missions. Major commands generally are assigned specific
responsibilities based on functions. In descending order of command,
elements of major commands include numbered air forces, wings, groups,
squadrons and flights.
The basic unit for generating and employing combat capability is
the wing, which has always been the Air Forces prime war-fighting
instrument. Composite wings operate more than one kind of aircraft,
and may be configured as self-contained units designated for quick
air intervention anywhere in the world. Other wings continue to
operate a single aircraft type ready to join air campaigns anywhere
they are needed. Air base and specialized mission wings such as
training, intelligence and test also support the Air Force mission.
Within the wing, operations, logistics and support groups are the
cornerstones of the organization.
Field operating agencies and direct reporting units are other Air
Force subdivisions and report directly to Headquarters U.S. Air
Force. They are assigned a specialized mission that is restricted
in scope when compared to the mission of a major command. Field
operating agencies carry out field activities under the operational
control of a Headquarters U.S. Air Force functional manager. Direct
reporting units are not under the operational control of a Headquarters
U.S. Air Force functional manager because of a
unique mission, legal requirements or other factors.
* Air Combat Command, Langley AFB, Va.
* Air Education and Training Command, Randolph AFB, Texas
* Air Force Materiel Command, Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio
* Air Force Space Command, Peterson AFB, Colo.
* Air Force Special Operations Command, Hurlburt Field, Fla.
* Air Mobility Command, Scott AFB, Ill.
* Pacific Air Forces, Hickam AFB, Hawaii
* United States Air Forces in Europe, Ramstein AB, Germany
Note: Separate U.S. Air Force fact sheets on the major commands
Field Operating Agencies
* Air Force Audit Agency, Washington, D.C.
* Air Force Base Conversion Agency, Arlington, Va.
* Air Force Center for Environmental Excellence, Brooks AFB, Texas
* Air Force Civil Engineer Support Agency, Tyndall AFB, Fla.
* Air Force Command, Control, Communications and Computer Agency,
Scott AFB, Ill.
* Air Force Cost Analysis Agency, Arlington, Va.
* Air Force Doctrine Center, Langley AFB, Va.
* Air Force Flight Standards Agency, Andrews AFB, Md.
* Air Force Frequency Management Agency, Arlington, Va.
* Air Force Historical Research Agency, Maxwell AFB, Ala.
* Air Force History Support Office, Bolling AFB, D.C.
* Air Force Inspection Agency, Kirtland AFB, N.M.
* Air Force Legal Services Agency, Bolling AFB, D.C.
* Air Force Logistics Management Agency, Maxwell AFB, Gunter Annex,
* Air Force Management Engineering Agency, Randolph AFB, Texas
* Air Force Medical Operations Agency, Bolling AFB, D.C.
* Air Force Medical Support Agency, Brooks AFB, Texas
* Air Force News Agency, Kelly AFB, Texas
* Air Force Office of Special Investigations, Bolling AFB, D.C.
* Air Force Operations Group, Washington, D.C.
* Air Force Pentagon Communications Agency, Washington, D.C.
* Air Force Personnel Center, Randolph AFB, Texas
* Air Force Personnel Operations Agency, Washington, D.C.
* Air Force Program Executive Office, Washington, D.C.
* Air Force Real Estate Agency, Bolling AFB, D.C.
* Air Force Reserve, Robins AFB, Ga.
* Air Force Review Boards Agency, Washington, D.C.
* Air Force Safety Agency, Kirtland AFB, N.M.
* Air Force Security Police Agency, Kirtland AFB, N.M.
* Air Force Services Agency, Randolph AFB, Texas
* Air Force Studies and Analyses Agency, Washington, D.C.
* Air Force Technical Applications Center, Patrick AFB, Fla.
* Air Intelligence Agency, Kelly AFB, Texas
* Air National Guard Readiness Center, Andrews AFB, Md.
* Air Reserve Personnel Center, Denver, Colo.
* Air Weather Service, Scott AFB, Ill.
* Joint Services Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape Agency,
Fort Belvoir, Va.
Direct Reporting Units
* 11th Wing, Bolling AFB, D.C.
* Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center, Kirtland AFB,
* United States Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, Colo.