The United States Air Force (USAF) was formed as a separate branch of the military on September 18, 1947 under the National Security Act of 1947. That’s right. It wasn’t until after World War II this military branch was formed. The air force was actually part of the the U.S. Army at first and was called by several different names since man was first able to take to the sky:
- From 1907 to 1914, it was the Aeronautical Division, Signal Corps
- From 1914 to 1918, it was the Aviation Section, Signal Corps
- In 1918 for only a few days, it was called the Division of Military Aeronautics
- From 1918 to 1926, it was the U.S. Army Air Service
- From 1926 to 1941, it was the U.S. Army Air Corps
- From 1941 to 1947, it was the U.S. Army Air Forces
The AAF controlled all parts of military aviation from 1941 to 1947 and at its peaks, included more than 2.4 million men and women in service, nearly 80,000 aircraft, and 783 domestic bases. By VE Day, it had 1.25 million men stationed overseas and operated from more than 1,600 airfields worldwide.
Even though the Air Force is the youngest branch in our military, it does not lack in either experience or ability. It is the world’s largest and most technologically advanced air force in the world with a focus on a variety of core areas. According to the branch’s 2010 Posture Statement, the USAF is focused on several core functions, including:
- Nuclear Deterrence Operations
- Special Operations
- Air Superiority
- Rapid Global Mobility
- Agile Combat Support
- Cyberspace Superiority
- Personnel Recovery
- Global Precision Attack
- Space Superiority
- Building Partnerships
According to Air Force Magazine, as of 2009, the USAF operates more than 5,500 manned aircraft in service under the USAF, Air National Guard, and Air Force Reserve. Additionally, as of 2009, it has 450 intercontinental ballistic missles, more than 330,000 men and women on active duty, 2,130 air-lauched cruise missles, and 180 unmanned combat air vehicles. It employs more than 150,000 civilians and the Civil Air Patrol, under the USAF, has over 60,000 auxiliary members. This makes the USAF the largest air force in the world – and it has one heck of a history.
Since its first inception, the Air Force has performed an integral role in the American military force during World War I, as Aviation Section, U.S. Signal Corps; World War II, as United States Army Air Forces; Cold War, Korean War, Vietnam War, Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, Operation Enduring Freedom , and Operations Iraqi Freedom and New Dawn, to name a few.
The USAF has also taken in part in a number of humanitarian operations, including the Berlin Airlift (Operation Vittles), Operation Safe Haven, Operation Unifed Assitance, Operation Unified Response, and Operations Babylift, New Life, Frequent Wind, and New Arrivals.
Today, take time to celebrate the contributions, the history, and the bravery of the USAF. Write a letter to a military family who has a son or daughter that serves in this branch. Say “thank you” to a member of the USAF when you see him or her on the street. Display pride for this branch by hanging a USAF flag on your porch or by wearing an Air Force hoodie, Air Force hat, or Air Force t-shirt. Support injured veterans by making a donation or purchasing Oscar Mike Foundation apparel. Take a moment of silence to honor those who gave the ultimate sacrifice in service of our country.