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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
379th Air Expeditionary
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
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
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
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
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
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.