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There is no type of human endeavor where it is so important that the leader understands all phases of his job as that of the profession of arms.

-- Major General James Fry

Major Commands

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During the half century that the U.S. Air Force has existed as a separate service, 27 organizations designated as major commands have existed. As of December 2000, only nine major commands remain active. These commands and the stations of their headquarters are: Air Combat Command, Langley AFB, Virginia; Air Education and Training Command, Randolph AFB, Texas; Air Force Materiel Command, Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio; Air Force Reserve Command, Robins AFB, Georgia; Air Force Space Command, Peterson AFB, Colorado; Air Force Special Operations Command, Hurlburt Field, Florida; Air Mobility Command, Scott AFB, Illinois; Pacific Air Forces, Hickam AFB, Hawaii; and United States Air Forces in Europe, Ramstein AB, Germany. The others have either inactivated or lost their command status. A brief statement of functional antecedents precedes the lineage of each USAF major command, past and present.

Aerospace Defense Command


The War Department established an Air Defense Command on February 26, 1940. This command, operating under the control of the First Army Commander from March 2, 1940, to September 9, 1941, engaged in planning for air defense. Before the United States entered World War II, air defense was divided among the four air districts later, First, Second, Third, and Fourth Air Forces based in the United States. In mid-1944, when the threat of air attack seemed negligible, this air defense organization was disbanded. Subsequently, no real air defense organization existed until the second Air (later Aerospace) Defense Command was established in 1946 as a major command of the Army Air Forces (AAF). The Aerospace Defense Command declined after the Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve gradually assumed more and more of the air defense mission. In 1980 Air Defense Command resources were divided between Tactical Air Command and Strategic Air Command. Some functions of the command passed to the Aerospace Defense Center, a direct reporting unit that inactivated on October 1, 1986.

Lineage

Established as Air Defense Command on March 21, 1946. Activated as a major command on March 27, 1946. Became a subordinate operational command of Continental Air Command on December 1, 1948. Discontinued on July 1, 1950. Reestablished as a major command, and organized, on January 1, 1951. Redesignated Aerospace Defense Command on January 15, 1968. Inactivated on March 31, 1980.




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Air Combat Command


HQ USAF established this command to integrate the bomber and intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) resources of Strategic Air Command and the fighter resources of Tactical Air Command into a single command, able to support and implement joint missions. In July 1993, the Air Combat Command transferred responsibility for the operational control of the ICBMs to the Air Force Space Command. Air Combat Command serves as the Air Force component of the United States Atlantic Command.

Lineage

Established as Air Combat Command and activated on June 1, 1992.




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Air Education and Training Command


Flying training was conducted at various bases prior to, during, and following World War I. On June 28, 1922, this training was centralized in the area of San Antonio, Texas. Primary flying training took place at Brooks Field and advanced flying training at nearby Kelly Field. On August 16, 1926, an Air Corps Training Center was also established at San Antonio to supervise both primary and advanced flying training. In 1940, after the training activity expanded and more bases became available for training purposes, three regional training centers were created to supervise flying training in their respective geographical areas. The Air Corps Flying Training Command, established in January 1942, coordinated the activities of the three centers, which became subordinate components. A year later, the Technical Training Command and the Flying Training Command were merged into a general training command.

Lineage

Established as Air Corps Flying Training Command on January 23, 1942. Redesignated: Army Air Forces Flying Training Command about March 15, 1942; Army Air Forces Training Command on July 31, 1943; Air Training Command on July 1, 1946; Air Education and Training Command on July 1, 1993.




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Air Force Communications Command
See Air Force Communications Agency, currently a Field Operating Agency




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Air Force Intelligence Command


The Air Force Security Group, established under the direct command of the USAF Chief of Staff on July 1, 1948, took over functions that had been performed within the Directorate of Intelligence, HQ USAF. The Air Force Security Service took over the functions of the Air Force Security Group. The organization underwent several redesignations until acquiring its present name. During the reorganization and downsizing of the Air Force in the early 1990's, HQ USAF made it into a field operating agency. Following lessons learned from the Air War Over Serbia, HQ USAF decided to align the intelligence function more closely with operations by making the Air Intelligence Agency a component of Air Combat Command.

Lineage

Established as USAF Security Service on October 20, 1948. Organized as a major command on October 26, 1948. Redesignated: Electronic Security Command on August 1, 1979; Air Force Intelligence Command on October 1, 1991. Redesignated Air Intelligence Agency on October 1, 1993, and concurrently status changed from a major command to a field operating agency. Effective February 1, 2001, status changed from a field operating agency to a subordinate establishment of Air Combat Command.




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Air Force Logistics Command


Although the logistics function can be traced back to the earliest days of the Air Service, the functional antecedents of Air Force Logistics Command (AFLC) usually are not traced beyond October 15, 1926, when the Materiel Division was set up near Dayton, Ohio. The Materiel Division, controlled by the Office of the Chief of the Air Corps, possessed many characteristics of a major command. It brought together four major functions, research and development (R&D), procurement, supply, and maintenance, performed previously by three organizations. On December 11, 1941, these four functions were divided between two organizations. The Materiel Command assumed responsibility for R&D and procurement, and the Air Service Command assumed the supply and maintenance functions. Placed under AAF Materiel and Services in July 1944, the two commands were subsequently abolished on August 31, 1944. The R&D function was again separated with the establishment and organization of the Research and Development Command in 1950, leaving the logistics organization responsible for procurement, supply, and maintenance. Functions of AFLC merged with those of Air Force Systems Command to form Air Force Materiel Command on July 1, 1992.

Lineage

Established as Army Air Forces Materiel and Services on July 14, 1944. Organized as a major command on July 17, 1944. Redesignated: Army Air Forces Technical Service Command on August 31, 1944; Air Technical Service Command on July 1, 1945; Air Materiel Command on March 9, 1946; and Air Force Logistics Command on April 1, 1961. Inactivated on July 1, 1992.




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Air Force Materiel Command


HQ USAF established this command to create a single, streamlined organization for managing all Air Force research, development, test, acquisition, and support. This action integrated the missions of former Air Force Systems Command and Air Force Logistics Command.

Lineage

Established as Air Force Materiel Command and activated on July 1, 1992.




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Air Force Reserve Command


The Air Force Reserve was created as a separate operating agency and replaced a major command -- Continental Air Command -- which inactivated August 1, 1968. Because of the large number of organizations under its control, Air Force Reserve became the largest of the separate operating agencies and was the largest of the direct reporting units before returning to SOA status. In 1991, its status changed to a field operating agency and in 1997 it was elevated to major command status.

Lineage

Established as Air Force Reserve, and activated as a separate operating agency , on June 21, 1968. Organized on August 1, 1968. Status changed from separate operating agency to direct reporting unit on July 1, 1978. Returned to separate operating agency status on 1 May 1983. Effective February 5, 1991, status again changed from separate operating agency to field operating agency. Effective February 17, 1997, redesignated Air Force Reserve Command and status changed from a field operating agency to a major command of the United States Air Force.




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Air Force Space Command


An increasing number of unmanned military satellite projects reached maturity in the 1970s and 1980s. To manage these complex projects, some of which made possible verification of the arms control and nuclear test ban treaties, HQ USAF established an operational space command in 1982. The new command assumed responsibility for space related functions. On July 1, 1993, Air Force Space Command assumed command and control over the intercontinental ballistic missiles formerly assigned to the Air Combat Command. The Air Force Space Command serves as the USAF component of the United States Space Command and also of the United States Strategic Command.

Lineage

Established as Space Command, and activated, on September 1, 1982. Redesignated Air Force Space Command on November 15, 1985.




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Air Force Special Operations Command


HQ USAF established this command to assume responsibility for special operations resources, budgeting and training. The command serves as the air component of United States Special Operations Command.

Lineage

Established as Twenty-Third Air Force on February 10, 1983. Activated on March 1, 1983. Redesignated Air Force Special Operations Command, with the status of a major command, on May 22, 1990.




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Air Force Systems Command


Functional antecedents of Air Force Systems Command date at least to the establishment of the Airplane Engineering Department by the Chief Signal Officer, U.S. Army, on October 13, 1917. The department was located in the vicinity of Dayton, Ohio, where its successor, the Engineering Division, became part of the Materiel Division on October 15, 1926. Subsequently, the engineering function resided in the Materiel Command, the AAF Technical Service Command, the Air Technical Service Command, and the Air Materiel Command until the creation of a separate research and development command in 1950. In the reorganization and redesignation actions of 1961, Air Force Systems Command acquired the materiel procurement function from Air Force Logistics Command. Then with the 1992 reorganization of the Air Force, the functions of this command and the logistics command were once again merged in the Air Force Materiel Command.

Lineage

Established as Research and Development Command on January 23, 1950. Organized as a major command on February 1, 1950. Redesignated: Air Research and Development Command on September 16, 1950; Air Force Systems Command on April 1, 1961. Inactivated on July 1, 1992.




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Air Mobility Command


HQ USAF established this command by combining the airlift assets of Military Airlift Command and most of the air refueling assets of Strategic Air Command to control and improve world-wide tanker/airlift operations. Air Mobility Command is the USAF component of the United States Transportation Command.

Lineage

Established as Air Mobility Command and activated on June 1, 1992.




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Air Proving Ground Command


The AAF Proving Ground Command, responsible for testing aircraft weapon systems and munitions, was established in 1942 at Orlando, Florida, and moved in 1946 to Eglin Field, Florida. It replaced another AAF Proving Ground Command that was discontinued and disbanded.

Lineage

Established as Army Air Forces School of Applied Tactics on October 27, 1942, with major command status. Redesignated: AAF Tactical Center on October 16, 1943; AAF Center on June 1, 1945; AAF Proving Ground Command on March 8, 1946; Air Proving Ground Command on July 10, 1946. Effective January 20, 1948, redesignated Air Proving Ground and reassigned to Air Materiel Command, losing major command status. On June 1, 1948, reassigned to HQ USAF, regaining major command status. Redesignated Air Proving Ground Command on December 20, 1951. On December 1, 1957, redesignated Air Proving Ground Center and reassigned to Air Research and Development Command, (later, Air Force Systems Command) once again losing major command status. Redesignated: Armament Development and Test Center on August 1, 1968; Armament Division on October 1, 1979; Munitions Systems Division on March 15, 1989; Air Force Development Test Center on July 11, 1990. Reassigned to Air Force Materiel Command on July 1, 1992. Redesignated Air Armament Center on October 1, 1998.




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Air University


Because each combatant arm of the Army possessed a special service school, the War Department approved for the Army's air arm an educational center that eventually located at Maxwell AFB, Alabama.

Lineage

Authorized as the Air Service School by the War Department on February 25, 1920, and established that same year, exact date unknown, at Langley Field, Virginia. Redesignated: Air Service Field Officers' School on February 10, 1921; Air Service Tactical School on November 8, 1922; Air Corps Tactical School on August 18, 1926. Moved to Maxwell Field, Alabama, on July 15, 1931. Discontinued on October 9, 1942. History and insignia of Air Corps Tactical School bestowed on Army Air Forces School of Applied Tactics, which was established within the Army Air Forces Center at Orlando, Florida, on October 16, 1943. Redesignated AAF School on June 1, 1945. On November 29, 1945, moved to Maxwell Field, Alabama, and was assigned directly to the Army Air Forces as a major command. Redesignated Air University on March 12, 1946. Reassigned to Air Training Command on May 15, 1978, losing major command status. Returned to major command status effective July 1, 1983. Changed from a major command of the United States Air Force to a subordinate organization of Air Education and Training Command on July 1, 1993.




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Alaskan Air Command
See Eleventh Air Force under Numbered Air Forces.




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Continental Air Command


When organized in December 1948, Continental Air Command (CONAC) assumed jurisdiction over Tactical Air Command and Air Defense Command. Continental Air Command also had charge of all Air Force reserve units because most of these forces were to be used in either air defense or tactical operations. Two years later, on December 1, 1950, the Air Force reestablished Tactical Air Command as a major command and removed it from assignment to CONAC. Air Defense Command, inactivated on July 1, 1950, was reestablished as a major command on January 1, 1951, when CONAC ceased to handle the nation's air defense mission. After January 1951, CONAC remained responsible primarily for administering the Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve, known collectively as the Air Reserve Forces. When inactivated CONAC was replaced by Air Force Reserve, now a major command of the United States Air Force.

Lineage

Established as Continental Air Command, and organized, on December 1, 1948. Inactivated on August 1, 1968. Disestablished on September 21, 1984.




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Headquarters Command, USAF


Various support organizations in the vicinity of Washington, D.C., performed a variety of functions that the Bolling Field Command absorbed in December 1946. When Headquarters Command, USAF, inactivated in 1976, many of its functions passed to the Military Airlift Command.

Lineage

Established as Bolling Field Command, and organized, on December 15, 1946. Redesignated Headquarters Command, USAF, on March 17, 1958. Inactivated on July 1, 1976.




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Military Airlift Command


The organization that would become widely known as the Air Transport Command was established in May 1941 as the Air Corps Ferrying Command, and was charged initially with flying aircraft overseas for delivery to the British. No real antecedents of this command are to be found, for until 1941 the Army's air arm had no pressing need for a major organization devoted primarily to ferrying aircraft and transporting troops and cargo by air. There were a few squadron echelon units involved in air transport from the late 1930s and a group from 1937, but most Air Corps units ferried their own aircraft and moved their own cargo.

In 1948 the Air Transport Command and the Navy Air Transport Service merged into a new organization, the Military Air Transport Service (MATS). Air Transport Command was inactivated and its resources were passed to the new command. In 1982 HQ USAF officially consolidated the Air Transport Command with the Military Airlift Command (MAC)-a new designation of MATS. HQ USAF inactivated MAC in June 1992 merging its resources with tanker resources from Strategic Air Command and forming the Air Mobility Command.

Lineage

Established as Air Corps Ferrying Command on May 29, 1941. Redesignated: Army Air Forces Ferry Command on March 9, 1942; Army Air Forces Ferrying Command on March 31, 1942; Air Transport Command on July 1, 1942. Discontinued, and inactivated, on June 1, 1948. Consolidated (1982) with Military Air Transport Service, established as a major command, and activated, on June 1, 1948. Redesignated Military Airlift Command on January 1, 1966. Inactivated on June 1, 1992.




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Northeast Air Command
Newfoundland Base Command, a World War II organization that supported the North Atlantic route to Europe, was a part of the Eastern Defense Command (U.S. Army) until January 1, 1946, when it became a component of Atlantic Division, Air Transport Command. On April 1, 1948, Newfoundland Base Command became a directly assigned component of Air Transport Command. On June 1, 1948, when Air Transport Command inactivated, it became a directly assigned component of Military Air Transport Service, then in October 1950 it became a major command. When the Northeast Air Command discontinued in 1957, its subordinate components were reassigned, most going to Air Defense Command and Strategic Air Command.

Lineage

Established as Newfoundland Base Command on January 15, 1941. Redesignated Northeast Air Command on October 1, 1950, at which time it was elevated to major command status. Discontinued on April 1, 1957.




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Pacific Air Command
See Seventh Air Force under Numbered Air Forces.




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Pacific Air Forces


The Far East Air Forces was created in 1944 to direct the Fifth and Thirteenth Air Forces in the Asiatic-Pacific theater. Also controlled the Seventh Air Force, from mid-1945 through 1946, during the Vietnam war years, and since 1986.

Lineage

Established as Far East Air Forces on July 31, 1944. Activated on August 3, 1944. Redesignated: Pacific Air Command, U.S. Army, on December 6, 1945; Far East Air Forces on January 1, 1947; Pacific Air Forces on July 1, 1957.




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Special Weapons Command
The Special Weapons Command was created to direct specialized organizations dealing with atomic and other unconventional weapons. Because much of the work involved research and development, the command was eventually absorbed by the Air Research and Development Command.

Lineage

Established as Special Weapons Command, a major command, on December 1, 1949. Redesignated Air Force Special Weapons Center, and assigned to Air Research and Development Command, on April 1, 1952, losing major command status. Inactivated on April 1, 1976.




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Strategic Air Command


The Continental Air Forces, created in December 1944, coordinated the activities of the four numbered air forces (First, Second, Third, and Fourth) in the United States. Strategic bombardment operations during World War II, however, had shown the need for a major command devoted exclusively to strategic, long-range air combat operations, and that became the command's assigned mission in 1946. During 1992, as a result of the diminishing danger of massive nuclear warfare and the disappearance of a meaningful distinction between strategic and tactical missions, HQ USAF inactivated the Strategic Air Command and divided its assets between the newly created Air Combat Command and Air Mobility Command.

Lineage

Established as Continental Air Forces on December 13, 1944. Activated on December 15, 1944. Redesignated Strategic Air Command on March 21, 1946. Inactivated on June 1, 1992.




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Tactical Air Command


HQ USAF established this command to provide a balance between strategic, air defense, and tactical forces of the post-World War II Air Force. In 1948 the Continental Air Command assumed control over air defense, tactical air, and air reserve forces. After two years in a subordinate role, Tactical Air Command (TAC) was reestablished as a major command. In 1992, after assessing the mission of TAC and to accommodate the decision made regarding Strategic Air Command, HQ United States Air Force inactivated TAC and incorporated its resources into the newly created Air Combat Command.

Lineage

Established as Tactical Air Command, and activated, on March 21, 1946. Reduced from major command status, and assigned to Continental Air Command as a subordinate operational command, on December 1, 1948. On December 1, 1950, returned to major command status. Inactivated on June 1, 1992.




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3d Air Division


During 3d Air Division's status as a major command (1949-1951), it controlled large numbers of USAF organizations based in the United Kingdom and supervised a tremendous airfield construction program.

Lineage

Established as 3d Bombardment Division on August 30, 1943. Activated on September 13, 1943 as a component of Eighth Air Force. Redesignated 3d Air Division on January 1, 1945. Inactivated on November 21, 1945. Organized on August 23, 1948 as a component of U.S. Air Forces in Europe (USAFE). Relieved from assignment to USAFE on January 3, 1949, and given major command status. This special status terminated on January 21, 1951, at which time 3d Air Division returned to the control of USAFE. Discontinued on May 1, 1951. Redesignated 3d Air Division (Operational) on October 8, 1953 and activated on October 25, 1953, assigned to U.S. Air Forces in Europe. Inactivated on March 1, 1954. Redesignated 3d Air Division on June 8, 1954 and activated on June 18, 1954, assigned to Strategic Air Command. Inactivated on April 1, 1970. Activated on January 1, 1975, assigned to Strategic Air Command. Inactivated on April 1, 1992.




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United States Air Forces in Europe


Beginning as the World War II Eighth Air Force, this command evolved into a USAF major command.

Lineage

Established as 8th Air Force on January 19, 1942. Activated on January 28, 1942. Redesignated: Eighth Air Force on September 18, 1942; United States Strategic Air Forces in Europe on February 22, 1944; United States Air Forces in Europe on August 7, 1945.




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United States Air Forces Southern Command


The first air units arrived in the Canal Zone in February 1917. By 1940, a rapid increase in the number of units warranted a new organization, and the Panama Canal Air Force was created as a major command. When the command inactivated in 1976, most of its functions and resources passed to the Tactical Air Command, which established an air division as the major organization in the area.

Lineage

Established as Panama Canal Air Force on October 19, 1940. Activated as a major command on November 20, 1940. Redesignated: Caribbean Air Force on August 5, 1941; 6th Air Force on September 18, 1942; Caribbean Air Command on July 31, 1946; United States Air Forces Southern Command on July 8, 1963. Inactivated on January 1, 1976.

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