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Daily News Editorial

By Staff | Sep 18, 2008

It was 61 years ago today that the United States Air Force was formed. Previously known as the United States Army Air Corps, a separate branch was needed to protect the skies given the growing global threat of nuclear weapons.

Today, there are approximately 328,600 active duty personnel in the U.S. Air Force which includes 5,778 aircraft, 2,402 of which are fighters. Even after the great downsizing that came with the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty, the Air Force still has 450 intercontinental ballistic missiles and 1,289 air-launched cruise missiles in its arsenal.

While the other services – the U.S. Army, the United States Marine Corps, and the U.S. Navy – all have aircraft as well, the Air Force has the unique role of carrying the main mission of providing air superiority for the U.S. at home and abroad.

According to the National Security Act of 1947 which created the Air Force, “In general the United States Air Force shall include aviation forces both combat and service not otherwise assigned. It shall be organized, trained, and equipped primarily for prompt and sustained offensive and defensive air operations. The Air Force shall be responsible for the preparation of the air forces necessary for the effective prosecution of war except as otherwise assigned and, in accordance with integrated joint mobilization plans, for the expansion of the peacetime components of the Air Force to meet the needs of war.”

Today, the mission of the United States Air Force is to “deliver sovereign options for the defense of the United States of America and its global interests – to fly and fight in Air, Space, and Cyberspace.”

Indeed, the Air Force’s role has changed dramatically, first with the lunar missions of the 1960s and early 1970s and today as it finds itself charged with monitoring the Internet for national security issues as well as to protect the integrity of the Internet itself.

The public image of the Air Force is often that of a fighter pilot in the cockpit, shooting down an enemy aircraft. However, the U.S. Air Force is far more than that. It is an organization of men and women with a wide variety of military occupational specialties dedicated to serving their country.

And that’s something for which we can all be proud.