Numbered Air Force: Wikis


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A Numbered Air Force (NAF) is an organizational unit of the United States Air Force. Historically, a level of command below a MAJCOM (Major Command) and above one or more Wings or independent Groups, over time its role has changed. Some NAFs were replaced with MAJCOMs, and some MAJCOMs were replaced with NAFs. In addition, some NAFs had dual-roles as MAJCOMs, as air components of Unified Commands, or as air components of Subunified or Combined Commands. In the U.S. Air Force reorganization of the early 1990s, NAFs were reorganized as tactical echelons providing operational leadership and supervision. In this new role, they were not management headquarters and did not have complete functional staffs. However, several NAFs continued to serve as air components of Subunified or Combined Commands. In these cases the NAF function was separate from the air component function, even though the commander was "dual hatted" as the commander of both organizations. The best example of this arrangement in recent history is Ninth Air Force, which doubles as United States Air Forces Central (USAFCENT), the air component of U.S. Central Command.

NAFs are typically commanded by a Major General. NAFs commanded by a Lieutenant General are typically those with a dual-role as air components of Subunified or Combined Commands, where their commander is "dual hatted" as the commander of both organizations.

In 2004 and 2005 the role of the NAF changed again. In this case, the NAF has essentially been eliminated as a tactical echelon. Instead, the distinct air component staff was organized into a Warfighting Headquarters (WFHQ), sometimes organized as a Numbered Air Force, which included functions previously belonging to the MAJCOM Operations Directorate such as the Air Operations Center. Former administrative responsibilities of the NAF were directly assigned to the parent MAJCOM.

In 2006, the Warfighting Headquarters concept evolved into the Component Numbered Air Force (C-NAF) organization. The C-NAF is an operationally-oriented organization and serves as the air force component headquarters for a Unified Combatant Command, or subordinate unified command, when appropriate. The C-NAF includes an Air Operations Center to provide command and control, and an "A-Staff" to provide administrative and logistical support to assigned resources. A C-NAF has two designation, both the Numbered Air Force designation (i.e., 9th Air Force), and a functional component designation (i.e., U.S. Air Forces Central, or AFCENT).

Air Force Shield Location of Headquarters Major Command
First Air Force (AFNORTH)
1st Air Force.png
Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida ACC
Second Air Force
2d Air Force.png
Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi AETC
Third Air Force (AFEUR)
3d Air Force.png
Ramstein Air Base, Germany USAFE
Fourth Air Force
4th Air Force.png
March Air Reserve Base, California AFRC
Fifth Air Force
5th Air Force.png
Yokota Air Base, Japan PACAF
Seventh Air Force (AFKOR)
7th Air Force.png
Osan Air Base, Korea PACAF
Eighth Air Force (AFSTRAT-GS)
8th Air Force.png
Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana AFGSC
Ninth Air Force (AFCENT)
9th Air Force.png
Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina ACC
Tenth Air Force
10th Air Force.png
Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base, Fort Worth, Texas AFRC
Eleventh Air Force
11th Air Force.png
Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska PACAF
Twelfth Air Force (AFSOUTH)
12th Air Force.png
Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona ACC
Thirteenth Air Force (AFPAC)
13th Air Force.png
Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii PACAF
Fourteenth Air Force (AFSTRAT-SP)
14th Air Force emblem.png
Vandenberg Air Force Base, California AFSPC
Seventeenth Air Force (AFAFRICA)
17th Air Force.png
Ramstein Air Base, Germany USAFE
Eighteenth Air Force (AFTRANS)
18th Air Force.png
Scott Air Force Base, Illinois AMC
Nineteenth Air Force
19th Air Force.png
Randolph Air Force Base, Texas AETC
Twentieth Air Force
20th Air Force.png
F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyoming AFGSC
Twenty-Second Air Force
22d Air Force.png
Dobbins Air Reserve Base, Georgia AFRC
Twenty-Third Air Force (AFSOF)
Twenty-Third Air Force.png
Hurlburt Field, Florida AFSOC
Twenty-Fourth Air Force (AFSTRAT)
24th Air Force.png
Lackland Air Force Base, Texas[1] AFSPC

Changes in NAF structure include the redesignation of Sixth Air Force as United States Air Forces Southern Command in 1946, the redesignation of Twenty-Third Air Force as Air Force Special Operations Command and redesignation of Alaskan Air Command as Eleventh Air Force in 1990, and the reactivation of Nineteenth Air Force in 1993.

In 2003, the Fifteenth Air Force and Twenty-First Air Force were redesignated as Expeditionary Mobility Task Forces (EMTFs). At the same time, Eighteenth Air Force was reactivated under AMC to serve as the C-NAF supporting USTRANSCOM. Each EMTF is commanded by a Brigadier General and is responsible for supporting Air Mobility support for one or more geographic regions. In addition, the EMTF commander is pre-designated at the Director of Mobility Forces (DIRMOBFOR-Air) for the C-NAF the EMTF supports.

The Sixteenth Air Force was inactivated and reconstituted as the 16th Air Expeditionary Task Force December 1, 2006.

A new Twenty-Third Air Force was established under AFSOC as the C-NAF supporting USSOCOM, and Seventeenth Air Force was reactivated under USAFE as the C-NAF supporting USAFRICOM in 2008.

With the implementation of the USAF's Component Numbered Air Force concept, the role of Numbered Air Forces continues to evolve. The C-NAF concept is being applied broadly. For example, the United States Strategic Command has multiple subordinate Joint Functional Component Commands, and several of these commands are supported by dedicated C-NAFs. At the same time, there is a reduction in the role of an existing Numbered Air Force which is supported by another C-NAF. For example, PACAF's creation of its Thirteenth Air Force/AFPAC C-NAF, which is responsible for U.S. Air Force operations in the entire USPACOM area of responsibility except for the Korean peninsula, has reduced the responsibilities of Fifth Air Force and Eleventh Air Force significantly.

Numbered Air Forces at one time often included Air Divisions, but this organization has become obsolete and unused. The last Air Divisions were disbanded in 1991. Air Divisions were composed of two or more Wings or independent Groups.


  1. ^ "Air Force Announces Decision On Location Of 24th Air Force". Aero-News Network. Retrieved 2009-08-13.  

See also

  • Strategic Air Command Air Forces


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