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Training through time ensures USAF is second to none

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Suzie Plotnikov
  • 81st Training Wing Public Affairs

Second Air Force is known for transforming civilians into the Airmen we need to continue to dominate in air, space, and cyberspace. However, this was not always what the Numbered Air Force has been called to do.

On Oct. 19, 1940, the Army Air Corps established the Northwest Air District, what we know today as Second Air Force, as the nation prepared for the possibility of war. It was created to control the growing number of tactical organizations.

“By 1941, the Air Corps was in the midst of the largest expansion in airpower history, which would reach its zenith of more than 2 million personnel by mid-war,” said Gary Boyd, Air Education and Training Command History and Museums Program director. “The small Air Corps did not have to worry much about span of control, but 80 years ago, the growing number of people and aircraft required new intermediate headquarters with geographic responsibility—it was what became the Numbered Air Forces. While NAFs today tend to be aligned with roles and missions, i.e., technical or flying training, the expansion of 1941 did not allow for such specialization.”

The Northwest Air District was first activated on Dec. 18, 1940, at McChord Field, Washington, then a month later, the headquarters moved to Fort George Wright near Spokane, Washington. On April 9, 1941, the Army Air Corps redesignated the Northwest Air District as 2d Air Force, and finally on Sept. 18, 1942, another redesignation changed the name to Second Air Force, which continues unchanged today.

In 1941 Second Air Force’s primary mission was air defense, which was demonstrated throughout World War II, Vietnam and parts of the Cold War, they still had a training mission.

On Dec. 13, 1942, Gen. Henry “Hap” Arnold addressed groups of Airmen that were headed to advanced training, about the new and advanced technology of the Army Air Corps.

“Aircraft are on the way that can fly higher, faster and greater distances than ever before,” said Arnold. “We will soon double our production of 4,000 warplanes a month, while the Army Air Forces will reach a total of more than 2 million officers and men by the end of next year.”

From November 1949 until January 1975, subordinate units deployed aircraft and crews for combat operations in Korea and Vietnam. After January 1975, Second Air Force became inactive until September 1991.

With the end of the Cold War and the restructuring of Strategic Air Command in September 1991, Second Air Force became the steward for SACs reconnaissance and battlefield management assets until July 1993, where it was reassigned on July 1, 1993 to Keesler.

Second Air Force, with its WWII history of training, was selected to oversee technical and basic military training to Air Force enlisted members at five major AETC training bases in the United States.

Just like in the past, Second Air Force units continue to transform the way Airmen learn to build a stronger, faster, more elite force.

“Second Air Force has made a great impact in United States history, and we continue to make a great impact today,” said Maj. Gen. Andrea Tullos, Second Air Force commander. “We are responsible for training 93 percent of the Air Force along with joint and coalition forces so we can continue our legacy as the world’s greatest Air Force.”