The United States Air Force (USAF) is the aerial warfare branch of the United States armed forces. In general terms, the Air Force's role is to prepare and train, and when needed, fight the aerial aspects of any military conflict the U.S. becomes involved in.
The U.S. Air Force vision statement is: "Global Vigilance, Reach, and Power." The Air Force motto is "Integrity first, service before self, excellence in all we do."
According to the National Security Act of 1947 (61 Stat. 502) which created the Air Force,
- "In general the United States Air Force shall include aviation forces both combat and service not otherwise assigned. It shall be organized, trained, and equipped primarily for prompt and sustained offensive and defensive air operations. The Air Force shall be responsible for the preparation of the air forces necessary for the effective prosecution of war except as otherwise assigned and, in accordance with integrated joint mobilization plans, for the expansion of the peacetime components of the Air Force to meet the needs of war."
Previously the United States Army Air Corps, part of the United States Army, the U.S. Air Force is the youngest American military branch. It was formed as a separate branch of the military on September 18, 1947. Tasked with protecting U.S. air space and supporting ground troops, the Air Force relies on the most technologically advanced military aircraft in the world. Operating those planes are highly trained pilots backed by technically skilled support crews.
The USAF is the largest and the most technologically advanced air force in the world, with about 6057 manned aircraft in service (4,273 USAF; 1,313 Air National Guard; and 400 Air Force Reserve); approximately 160 Unmanned Combat Air Vehicles, 2161 Air-Launched Cruise Missiles, and 1900 Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles; and as of September 30, 2007, had 328,808 personnel on active duty, 70,303 in the Selected and Individual Ready Reserves, and 106,254 in the Air National Guard. An additional 10,500 personnel were in the Standby Reserve and the Air Force employed 141,573 civilian personnel.
The current size of the active-duty force is roughly 70% of that of the USAF at the end of the first Gulf War in 1991.
Not all of the United States' military combat aircraft are operated by the USAF. The United States Army operates its own helicopters, mostly for support of ground combatants. The Navy is responsible for the aircraft operating on its aircraft carriers and Naval air stations, and the Marine Corps operates its own combat and transport aircraft. The Coast Guard also maintains transport and search-and-rescue aircraft, which may be used in a combat and law enforcement role. All branches of the U.S. military operate helicopters.
The Air Force is managed by the Department of the Air Force which is headed by the Secretary of the Air Force who heads administrative affairs. The Department of the Air Force is a division of the United States Department of Defense which is headed by the United States Secretary of Defense. The highest-ranking military officer in the department is the Chief of Staff of the Air Force.
|Title||General of the Air Force||General||Lieutenant General||Major General||Brigadier General|
|Title||Colonel||Lieutenant Colonel||Major||Captain||1st Lieutenant||2nd Lieutenant|