From the NFRW Armed Services Committee
By Mary Smart, Hawaii
This year we celebrate the United States Air Force’s (USAF) 75th Birthday. The theme of this special anniversary is to “Innovate, Accelerate, and Thrive.” For most of those 75 years, the USAF was the most junior service in the Armed Forces. Now it has seniority over the newly formed Space Force that is also organized under Secretary of the Air Force, Mr. Frank Kendall.
The Air Force provides America the airpower needed to defeat adversaries, reassure partners and allies of our continued support, and ensure diplomacy with our adversaries is from a position of strength. In the early 1900s the military recognized the value of aircraft in combat and by 1909 purchased its first aircraft. As the concept of “air power” developed in strategy, the organizational structure also changed until designations from Aeronautical Section, Signal Corps (1909); Aviation Section, Signal Corps (1914); United States Army Air Service (1918); United States Army Air Corps (1926), and United States Army Air Forces (1941) until finally being established as the United States Air Force in 1947 by the National Security Act of 1947 and Executive Order 9877.
The USAF has approximately 64,000 officers and 264,000 enlisted personnel. Aviators comprise a large component of USAF officers, with 12,323 pilots, 3,265 navigators, and 1,306 battle managers.
Women first entered pilot training in 1976, navigator training in 1977, and fighter pilot training in 1993 (now 960 female pilots; 417 navigators; 257 air battle managers). The USAF mission statement is “to fly, fight and win in air, space and cyberspace.” Their motto is: “Aim High … Fly-Fight-Win.”
Happy Birthday, USAF!