AFCENT Mission

United States Air Forces Central Command is the air component of United States Central Command, a regional unified command. USAFCENT is responsible for air operations (either unilaterally or in concert with coalition partners and developing contingency plans in support of national objectives for USCENTCOM's 20-nation area of responsibility in Southwest Asia. Additionally, USAFCENT manages an extensive supply and equipment prepositioning program at several AOR sites.


In 1979, following the seizure of the U.S. embassy in Tehran by Iranian militants and the invasion of Afghanistan by the Soviet Union, the United States established a Rapid Deployment Joint Task Force and early the next year, officially designated the 9th AF as the air arm for the RDJTF. The task force was the U.S. military's first four-service rapid reaction force headquarters to be formed in peacetime. The task force was inactivated Dec. 31, 1982. The following day, USCENTCOM activated and 9th AF was selected as U.S. Central Command Air Forces.

In August 1990, USCENTAF was put to the test in response to Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait. USCENTAF was credited with masterminding the brilliant air campaign during Operation DESERT STORM. During the war, the Air Force was considered a key factor in destroying the world's sixth largest air force and decimating the fourth largest army with minimal loss of life on both Allied and Iraqi sides. Throughout the campaign, USCENTAF aircraft flew a total of 29,393 sorties, dropped 60,624 tons of ordnance and destroyed 215 enemy aircraft.

During the remainder of 1991, most USCENTAF units redeployed to the States while a residual force under the 4404th Wing (Provisional) remained in Saudi Arabia. USCENTAF deployed again Aug. 12, 1992. This time, it established a temporary task force known as Joint Task Force-Southwest Asia, which remained in place enforcing the "no fly" zone over Iraq, south of the 32nd parallel. This operation became known as Operation SOUTHERN WATCH.

In October 1994, Saddam Hussein again massed troops along the Kuwaiti border and USCENTAF responded with Operation VIGILANT WARRIOR and deployed additional Airmen to the area. When the crisis ended in December 1994, many troops and aircraft remained in position to continue their watch.

As the Air Force downsized, USCENTAF often found itself and its units busy supporting contingencies in the Middle East such as Vigilant Sentinel (August - September 1995), Desert Strike (August - October 1996), Desert Thunder I (November 1997 - June 1998), Desert Thunder II (August - December 1998) and Desert Fox (December 1998), in addition to supporting humanitarian missions such as Operations Relief and Restore Hope in Somalia.

Since 2001, the USCENTAF has supported Operation ENDURING FREEDOM in Afghanistan. In 2003, Operation SOUTHERN WATCH gave way to Operation IRAQI FREEDOM in Iraq. The Airmen deployed in support of these missions conduct traditional missions of close air support; air refueling; intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; airlift; distinguished visitor escort; training, and sitting alert. Operations ENDURING FREEDOM and IRAQI FREEDOM are also using airpower, and Airmen, in more nontraditional ways such as in the area of convoys; protecting Iraq's infrastructure of power lines, railroads, and oil pipelines; capturing high value targets and humanitarian efforts in rebuilding bridges, roads, and schools.

In a ceremony March 3, 2008, at Shaw AFB, USCENTAF took on a new name, USAFCENT, as well as an enhanced way of employing forces in war.

The ceremony also included the inactivation of the 609th Air Intelligence Group, Air Intelligence Squadron, Combat Operations Squadron, Combat Plans Squadron, Air Support Squadron and the Information Operations Flight; the redesignation and assumption of command of the 609th Air Operations Group to the 609th Air Operations Center, which forms the core of the Combined Air and Space Operations Center and the Detachment 1, 609th Air Operations Center; and the activation and assumption of command of Detachment 5, U.S. Air Forces Central.

Reflecting its mission statement "to project decisive air and space power for United States Central Command and America," at its peak, USAFCENT had beddown locations in the AOR as follows: Kirkuk AB, Balad AB, Baghdad International Airport, and Ali AB in Iraq. Bagram and Kandahar Airfields in Afghanistan and other bases in Southwest Asia remain active.

The USAFCENT organization provides a unique dual mission for its Airmen -- training of its combat units while working closely with its counterparts in Southwest Asia to ensure the stability of the region. Whether serving in a combat or humanitarian role, USAFCENT is an integral part of the nation's airpower in joint and combined military and humanitarian operations.

Expeditionary Units

379th Air Expeditionary Wing
The 379th Air Expeditionary Wing supports a wide range of missions to include: bomber, airlift, refueling, aeromedical evacuation, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. This collection makes the 379th AEW a large hub for humanitarian airlift activity in Iraq and Afghanistan while providing mission-essential combat power, aeromedical evacuation and intelligence support for multiple-theaters of operations. The wing operates the KC135 Stratotanker, B-1B Lancer, C-21A, C-20G, C-130 Hercules, E-8C Joint Stars and RC-135U Combat Sentry and RC-135V/W Rivet Joint aircraft.

380th Air Expeditionary Wing
The 380th Air Expeditionary Wing is a refueling wing for operations in the Arabian Gulf and provides combat service support to land component forces throughout the Persian Gulf Region and Iraq. The wing operates the RQ-4 Global Hawk, U-2S and KC-10 Extender aircraft.

386th Air Expeditionary Wing
The 386th Air Expeditionary Wing is an airlift/intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance hub supporting coalition operations throughout the Arabian Gulf and combat operations in Afghanistan. The Wing also provides combat service support to land and sea component forces throughout the Persian Gulf Region. The wing operates the MQ-1B Predator, the C-130H Hercules, the C-17 Globemaster and supports US Army aviation detachments for both fixed wing and rotary assets.

438th Air Expeditionary Wing
The mission of the 438th Air Expeditionary Wing is to set the conditions for a professional, fully independent and operationally capable Afghan Air Force to meet the security requirements of a secure and stable Afghanistan. The mission reflects a long-term commitment and an enduring relationship toward building partner capability within the international community and throughout Afghanistan. The 438th AEW trains and assists today's Afghan Air Force in order to develop its operational capability. The AAF operates Mi-17 transport helicopters, Mi-35 attack helicopters and An-32 transport aircraft.

451st Air Expeditionary Group
The 451st Air Expeditionary Group provides a persistent and powerful airpower presence in the Afghanistan area of operations. The 451st AEG Airmen provide world-class Close Air Support, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance, Command and Control, and Airborne Datalink capabilities whenever and wherever needed. The group operates the MQ-1B Predator, MQ-9 Reaper, and E-11 aircraft.

455th Air Expeditionary Wing
The 455th Air Expeditionary Wing at Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan, serves U.S. Air Forces Central and provides close air support, combat search rescue, aerial intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, and airlift capabilities to U.S. and coalition forces supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. In conjunction with Combined Joint Task Force-1, the 455 AEW is working to secure the future of Afghanistan for the Afghan people. Aircraft include the A-10 Thunderbolt II, C-130 Hercules, EC-130 Compass Call, HH-60 Pave Hawk, and MC-12W Liberty.

USAFCENT Area of Responsibility

Afghanistan, Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, and Yemen.

Note: the specific number of forces, home unit participation, and types of aircraft assigned to usafcent varies on a daily basis with the frequent rotation of operational units.