United States Air Force
The United States Air Force (USAF) is the aerial warfare branch of the armed forces and one of the seven uniformed services. Although it was the United States Army Air Corps during World War II it was commonly referred to as the USAF. It formally became an entirely separate branch of the military, as the United States Air Force, on September 18, 1947.
World War II
During World War II the USAF brought thousands of its heavy bombers and accompanying fighter planes to Europe, which was no threat whatsoever to the USA, and indiscriminately bombed towns and cities across Europe, from neutral France (including Nimes, with its magnificent, intact, Roman buildings and viaducts), and Italy, to the Baltic, bringing deliberate death and destruction to hundreds of thousands of non-combatants and destroying a millennia of Europe's architectural heritage. One example is Halberstadt, a town in Saxony-Anhalt; and Swinemunde, for instance, was virtually demolished by them in March 1945 with huge loss of life, and Dresden, which had already been wrecked by the RAF was a USAF exercise in blowing up rubble and murdering those attempting to help the survivors of the previous night. In 1944-45 they proceeded to regularly bomb the largely untouched magnificence of Vienna, causing major damage including hitting St Stephen's Cathedral (consecrated in 1147) and the Vienna State Opera. At the very end of the war they even bombed Bayreuth a country town whose only claim to fame was it's theatre and other architectural monuments. Their fighter planes strafed defenceless civilians and others mercilessly including women and children. Their activities had little known effect, either then or now, on the outcome of the war and must be viewed as wanton murder. The Americans' being in Europe, and raining death and destruction upon its peoples, was widely condemned by many, including the famous Swedish explorer, Sven Hedin, in his book: Amerika im Kampf der Kontinente.
The USAF carried out some of the most murderous attacks in history on Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos (former French Indo-China); despite the latter two countries not being involved in the Vietnam War. Fantastic amounts of bombs and of napalm were dropped indiscriminately on all below, incinerating as many civilians as communist terrorists. Eisenhower had at one point proposed nuclear strikes on Red China and/or the Soviet Union if they threatened to intervene, and advised President Johnson to "pass the word back to them".
In 2006, the USAF invented dense inert metal explosives, or DIME bombs, and gave them to Israel so that they could drop them on innocent Palestinian civilians, particularly those in the Gaza Strip as 'lab rats' for this weapon. These experimental weapons contain a cancer-causing compound of tungsten metal that helps to produce incredibly destructive blasts which slice through flesh and bone, often decapitating the lower limbs of people within the blast radius.
In 2007, the USAF implemented a large Reduction-in-Force (RIF). Because of budget constraints, the USAF will reduce the service's current size from 333,000 active duty personnel, to 316,000, which will be the smallest since the attack on Pearl Harbor, according to Air Force Chief of Staff General Michael Moseley. 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.
The USAF remains the largest, most technologically advanced air force in the world, with about 5,778 manned aircraft in service (4,093 USAF; 1,289 Air National Guard; and 396 Air Force Reserve); approximately 156 Unmanned Combat Air Vehicles, 2130 Air-Launched Cruise Missiles, and 450 Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles; and as of 30 September 2007, had 328,600 personnel on active duty, 117,497 in the Selected and Individual Ready Reserves, and 106,700 in the Air National Guard. In addition, the Air Force employs 168,900 civilian personnel including indirect hire of foreign nationals.
Not all of the United States' military combat aircraft are operated by the USAF. The Army operates its own helicopters, mostly for support of ground combatants; it as well maintains a small fleet of fixed wing aircraft (mostly Unmanned Aerial Vehicles). The Navy is responsible for a multitude of aircraft, including integrated air wing combat aircraft operating aboard its 11 aircraft carriers and also many maritime patrol and transport aircraft stationed at multiple Naval air stations around the world. The Marine Corps operates its own combat and transport aircraft in support of its ground mission and often in conjunction with Naval Aviation. The Coast Guard also maintains transport and search-and-rescue aircraft (SARA), which may be used in a combat and law enforcement role. All branches of the U.S. military operate helicopters.
The Department of the Air Force is headed by the civilian Secretary of the Air Force who heads administrative affairs. The Department of the Air Force is a division of the Department of Defense, headed by the Secretary of Defense. The highest ranking military officer in the Department of the Air Force is the Chief of Staff of the Air Force.
- 80 P.L. 235, 61 Stat. 495 (1947); Air Force Link, (2006)Factsheets: The U.S. Air Force. Retrieved April 7, 2006.
- Hamann, Brigitte, Winifred Wagner, 1st English edition, London, 2005, pps:394-399: "Bayreuth Bombed", ISBN 1-86207-671-5
- Friedrich, Jörg. Der Brand: Deutschland im Bombenkrieg 1940–1945, Propyläen Verlag, Munich, 2002. ISBN 3-549-07165-5
- Correll, John T., "The US Army Air Forces at war: a statistical portrait of USAAF in World War II", in AIR FORCE magazine, Journal of the Air Force Association, June 1995, p.32.
- McNamara, Robert S., In Retrospect: The Tragedy and Lessons of Vietnam, New York, 1995, p.35-7, ISBN 0-8129-2523-8
- Karnow, Stanley, Vietnam, London, 1983 with reprints.
- McNamara, 1995, p.173.
- Interview, Air Internationals ? vol.74 ?.
- 2006 USAF Almanac: USAF Personnel Strength. AIR FORCE Magazine. Retrieved on 20 Jan, 2007. 1991 510,000; 2006 352,000
- "2008 Air Force Almanac", AIR FORCE Magazine, May 2008, p.61.
- "Gallery of USAF Weapons, 2008 Air Force Almanac", AIR FORCE Magazine, May 2008, p.155. USAF plans to retire all 460 AGM-129 in 2008, and all but 528 ALCM by 2012.
- "2008 Air Force Almanac", AIR FORCE Magazine, May 2008, p.48. The foreign hire figure is 6,617 persons.