The mission of the United States Air Force is to fly, fight and win...in air, space and cyberspace.
To achieve that mission, the Air Force has a vision:
The United States Air Force will be a trusted and reliable joint partner with our sister services known for integrity in all of our activities, including supporting the joint mission first and foremost. We will provide compelling air, space, and cyber capabilities for use by the combatant commanders. We will excel as stewards of all Air Force resources in service to the American people, while providing precise and reliable Global Vigilance, Reach and Power for the nation.
The Air Force has three core competencies: Developing Airmen, Technology-to-Warfighting and Integrating Operations. These core competencies make our six distinctive capabilities possible:
Air and Space Superiority : With it, joint forces can dominate enemy operations in all dimensions -- land, sea, air and space.
Global Attack: Because of technological advances, the Air Force can attack anywhere, anytime -- and do so quickly and with greater precision than ever before.
Rapid Global Mobility: Being able to respond quickly and decisively anywhere we're needed is key to maintaining rapid global mobility.
Precision Engagement: The essence lies in the ability to apply selective force against specific targets because the nature and variety of future contingencies demand both precise and reliable use of military power with minimal risk and collateral damage.
Information Superiority: The ability of joint force commanders to keep pace with information and incorporate it into a campaign plan is crucial.
Agile Combat Support: Deployment and sustainment are keys to successful operations and cannot be separated. Agile combat support applies to all forces, from those permanently based to contingency buildups to expeditionary forces.
The Air Force bases these core competencies and distinctive capabilities on a shared commitment to three core values -- integrity first, service before self, and excellence in all we do.
The Department of the Air Force is headquartered in the Pentagon, Washington D.C. The service is organized in nine major commands throughout the world which provide combat aircraft, airlift, refueling, reconnaissance and other support to the Unified Combatant Commands.
The Air Force also has more than three dozen field operating agencies and direct reporting units which directly support the mission by providing unique services.
Together with Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard forces, the United States Air Force is the best in the world.
The Secretary of the Air Force is Deborah Lee James, the Chief of Staff of the Air Force is Gen. Mark A. Welsh, the Vice Chief of Staff is Gen. Larry O. Spencer, and the Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force is CMSAF James A. Cody.
Air Force Space Command, activated Sept. 1, 1982, is a major command with headquarters at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado. AFSPC provides military focused space and cyberspace capabilities with a global perspective to the joint warfighting team.
AFSPC's mission is to provide resilient and affordable space and cyberspace capabilities for the Joint Force and the Nation.
One Team - Innovative Airmen Fighting and Delivering Integrated Multi-Domain Combat Effects across the Globe.
More than 38,000 professionals assigned to 134 locations worldwide.
Fourteenth Air Force is located at Vandenberg AFB, California, and provides space capabilities for the joint fight through the operational missions of spacelift; position, navigation and timing; satellite communications; missile warning and space control.
Twenty-fourth Air Force is located at Joint Base San Antonio - Lackland, Texas, and its mission is to provide combatant commanders with trained and ready cyber forces which plan and conduct cyberspace operations. The command extends, operates, maintains and defends its assigned portions of the Department of Defense network to provide capabilities in, through and from cyberspace.
The Space and Missile Systems Center at Los Angeles AFB, California, designs and acquires all Air Force and most Department of Defense space systems. It oversees launches, completes on-orbit checkouts and then turns systems over to user agencies. It supports the Program Executive Office for Space on the Global Positioning, Defense Satellite Communications and MILSTAR systems. SMC also supports the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle, Defense Meteorological Satellite and Defense Support programs and the Space-Based Infrared System.
The Air Force Network Integration Center at Scott AFB, Illinois, is the Air Force's premier organization for Air Force Network integration, cyber simulation, and network standards, architecture and engineering services. Through these specialized technical services, AFNIC supports the nation's warfighters with decisive cyber capabilities for mission success.
The Air Force Spectrum Management Office, located in Fort Meade, Maryland, is responsible for planning, providing and preserving access to the electromagnetic spectrum for the Air Force and selected DoD activities in support of national policy objectives, systems development and global operations. AFSMO defends and articulates Air Force spectrum access to regulatory agencies at the joint, national and international levels. It is responsible for all Air Force spectrum management-related matters, policy and procedures. Additionally, the agency oversees the Air Force spectrum management career field and manages the payment of the approximately $4 million Air Force spectrum fee each year.
AFSPC major installations include: Schriever, Peterson and Buckley Air Force bases in Colorado; Los Angeles and Vandenberg Air Force bases in California; and Patrick AFB in Florida. Major AFSPC units also reside on bases managed by other commands in New Mexico, Texas, Illinois, Virginia and Georgia. AFSPC manages many smaller installations and geographically separated units in North Dakota, Alaska, Hawaii and across the globe.
Spacelift operations at the East and West Coast launch bases provide services, facilities and range safety control for the conduct of DOD, NASA and commercial launches. Through the command and control of all DOD satellites, satellite operators provide force-multiplying effects -- continuous global coverage, low vulnerability and autonomous operations. Satellites provide essential in-theater secure communications, weather and navigational data for ground, air and fleet operations and threat warning.
Ground-based radar, Space-Based Infrared System and Defense Support Program satellites monitor ballistic missile launches around the world to guard against a surprise missile attack on North America. Space surveillance radars provide vital information on the location of satellites and space debris for the nation and the world. Maintaining space superiority is an emerging capability required to protect U.S. space assets.
The Air Force carries out its core missions through air, space, and cyberspace. The use of cyberspace is an essential component of how the Air Force brings innovative, global focus to ensure warfighting advantage. Through cyberspace operations, the Air Force finds and uses the best tools, skills, and capabilities to ensure the ability to fly, fight, and win in air, space and cyberspace. Cyberspace is critical to joint and Air Force operations. AFSPC conducts cyberspace operations through its subordinate units within 24th Air Force, including the 67th Cyberspace Wing, the 688th Cyberspace Wing, the 624th Operations Center, all three headquartered at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, as well as the 5th Combat Communications Group headquartered at Robins AFB, Georgia.
Collectively, these units are the warfighting organizations that establish, operate, maintain and defend Air Force networks and conduct full-spectrum operations. These organizations, made up of cyberspace professionals, a diverse blend of career fields including cyber operators, intelligence professionals, acquisitions personnel, aviators and many more, ensure the Air Force and joint force ability to conduct operations in, through and from cyberspace. More than 4,600 men and women conduct or support 24-hour cyberspace operations for 24th Air Force units. In addition, more than 10,000 Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve personnel directly support the AFSPC cyberspace mission.
AFSPC acquires, operates and supports the Global Positioning System, Defense Satellite Communications System, Defense Meteorological Satellite Program, Defense Support Program, Wideband Global SATCOM, MILSTAR and Advanced EHF, Global Broadcast Service, the Space-Based Infrared System Program and the Space Based Space Surveillance satellite. AFSPC currently operates the Delta IV and Atlas V launch vehicles. The Atlas V and Delta IV launch vehicles comprise the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle program, which is the future of assured access to space. AFSPC's launch operations include the Eastern and Western ranges and range support for all launches. The command maintains and operates a worldwide network of satellite tracking stations, called the Air Force Satellite Control Network, to provide communications links to satellites.
Ground-based radars used primarily for ballistic missile warning include the Ballistic Missile Early Warning System, Upgraded Early Warning Radar System, PAVE Phased Array Warning System and Perimeter Acquisition Radar Attack Characterization System. The Maui Optical Tracking Identification Facility, Ground-based Electro-Optical Deep Space Surveillance System, Passive Space Surveillance System, phased-array and mechanical radars provide primary space surveillance coverage. The Rapid Attack Identification, Detection, and Reporting System provides Space Situational Awareness and threat assessment by detecting, characterizing, reporting, and geolocating electromagnetic interference on satellite communications. New transformational space programs are continuously being researched and developed to enable AFSPC to stay on the leading-edge of technology.
In 1982, the Air Force established Air Force Space Command, with space operations as its primary mission. During the Cold War, space operations focused on missile warning, launch operations, satellite control, space surveillance and command and control for national leadership. In 1991, Operation Desert Storm validated the command's continuing focus on support to the warfighter. The Space Warfare Center, now named the Space Innovation and Development Center, was created to ensure space capabilities reached the warfighters who needed it. ICBM forces joined AFSPC in July 1993.
In 2001, upon the recommendation of the Space Commission, the Space and Missile Systems Center joined the command. It previously belonged to Air Force Materiel Command. AFSPC is currently the only Air Force command to have its acquisition arm within the command. In 2002, also on a recommendation from the Space Commission, AFSPC was assigned its own four-star commander after previously sharing a commander with U.S. Space Command and NORAD.
In the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the president directed military action against Afghanistan and Iraq. AFSPC provided extensive space-based support to the U.S. Central Command commander in the areas of communications; positioning, navigation and timing; meteorology; and warning. In 2005, the Air Force expanded its mission areas to include cyberspace. In concert with this, the Air Staff assigned responsibility for conducting cyberspace operations to AFSPC through Twenty-fourth Air Force, which was activated in August 2009.
In order to reinvigorate the Air Force's nuclear mission, Headquarters U.S. Air Force activated Air Force Global Strike Command to consolidate all nuclear forces under one command. Along with this, AFSPC transferred its ICBM forces to the new command in December 2009.
(Current as of August 2015)