(Index Page)

Air Force Cross
Distinguished Service Medal
Airman's Medal
Aerial Achievement Medal
Commendation Medal
Achievement Medal

© 2007 Foxfall Press Inc., all rights reserved.

  Background Information*

The Air Force was originally the Army Air Corps, but with passage of the National Security Act of 1947 it was established as a co-equal partner in the National Military Establishment. At first the Air Force retained the multiple directorate organization used when it was the Army Air Corps. Stuart Symington, the first Secretary of the Air Force, was sworn in on September 18, 1947. The Secretary, along with the first several Chiefs of Staff, developed what was to become the foundation of today's headquarters staff. Since its inception, the Air Force has been organized along functional rather than area lines. The Chief of Staff is the military head of the Air Force. The Deputy Chiefs of Staff may speak for the Chief of Staff at any time on any subject within their functional areas, according to the authority delegated by the Chief of Staff. Each Deputy in turn presides over a family of directorates, and each directorate is functionally oriented.

The Department of the Air Force is responsible for the preparation of the air forces necessary for the effective prosecution of war and military operations short of war and, under integrated joint mobilization plans, for the expansion of the peacetime component of the Air Force to meet the needs of war. Some of the major functions of the Air Force are to:

  • Organize, train, equip, and provide forces for the conduct of prompt and sustained combat operations in the air; specifically, forces to defend the United States against air attack, gain and maintain general air supremacy, defeat enemy air forces, conduct space operations, control vital air areas, and establish local air superiority;
  • Organize, train, equip, and provide forces for appropriate air and missile defense and space control operations, including forces for the strategic defense of the United States, in accordance with joint doctrines;
  • Organize, train, equip, and provide forces for strategic air and missile warfare;
  • Organize, equip, and provide forces for joint amphibious, space, and airborne operations;
  • Organize, train, equip, and provide forces for close air support and air logistic support to the Army and other forces, including airlift, air support, resupply of airborne operations, aerial photography, tactical air reconnaissance, and air interdiction of enemy land forces and communications;
  • Organize, train, equip, and provide forces for air transport for the Armed Forces;
  • Develop doctrines, procedures, and equipment for air defense of land areas;
  • Furnish launch and space support for the Department of Defense;
  • Organize, train, equip, and furnish land-based tanker forces for the in-flight refueling support of strategic operations and deployments of aircraft of the Armed Forces and Air Force tactical operations;
  • Organize, train, equip, and furnish forces to operate air lines of communication; and,
  • Organize, train, equip, and furnish forces for the support and conduct of special operations.

*Adapted from Department of Defense Directive 5100.1 


Return to top of page
Military Decorations (Index Page)
Quick Reference to All Military Decorations
Home Page