ON MARCH 5 the USAF announced the structure and changes to be implemented as the force moves from being a US-based air force to a rapidly deployable one. Since the ending of the Cold War the USAF has seen its assets reduced by around 35%, its overseas bases drastically cut back and its personnel levels slashed. At the same time it has been increasingly called upon to meet international commitments — in particular operations in the former Yugoslavia and Iraq. This has put an increasing strain on both the USAF’s infrastructure and its personnel over the past decade and the Air Expeditionary Force (AEF) concept has been developed to help counter these difficulties as well as considerably improve the effectiveness of US air power.
Ten lead Air Expeditionary Wing (AEW) bases have been nominated and these will all give their wing title to the AEW when it deploys.
through a cycle so as to establish a regular timetable of deployments and which AEW is on deployment readiness. Two AEWs will be on deployment readiness at all times and will be able to draw on assets other than their own, these include bombers, fighters, refuelling tankers, transport, Airborne Early Warning, Electronic Counter Measures and attack/close support aircraft.
In addition to the above wings, the 366th Wing at Mountain Home AFB, Idaho and the 4th Fighter Wing at Seymour Johnson AFB, North Carolina, have been designated as permanently on-call AEWs. For humanitarian and other operations five wings have been designated as lead mobility wings: the 22nd Air Refuelling Wing (ARW) at McConnell AFB, Kansas; the 43rd Airlift Wing at Pope AFB, North Carolina; the 60th Air Mobility Wing at Travis AFB, California, the 92nd ARW at Fairchild AFB, Washington and the 319th ARW at Grand Forks AFB, North Dakota.
As a result of this new structure a considerable number of changes are taking place at all levels throughout the Air Force, though Air Combat Command will bear the brunt of them. Changes in manpower and resources are to be made to better target key areas of AEF philosophy.
Hardware is also being reorganised and involves a number of small aircraft reallocations, however, the most significant are changes to the 347th Wing at Moody AFB, Georgia. The wing is to lose all its fighter aircraft with the deactivation of the 68th and 69th Fighter Squadrons in early 2001 and will instead become a Combat Search and Rescue Wing operating HC-130P and HH-60G aircraft. However, it will also have a pilot training role as it is already due to receive 60 T-38C Talons and will now also be getting an allocation of 35 T-6A Texan by 2003. Air Force Reserve Command is to establish an associate training unit, the 70th FTS, by 2001 so as to increase its pilot training programme.
Other changes affecting flying units are as follows: Alaska — the 54th FS (Elmendorf AFB) will gain six F-15C/DS; Arizona — the 354th FS (Davis Monthan AFB) will gain six A-lOAs; California -129th RQS (ANG — Moffett Federal Field) will convert from four HC-130Ps to four MC-130Ps; Florida — the 8th SOS to move from Hurlburt Field to Duke Field, 5th SOS to move to Eglin AFB from Duke Field, the 711th SOS (AFRC) at Duke Field will lose one MC-130E, the 9th SOS (Eglin AFB) will lose four MC-130Ps (to 129th RQS), the 55th SOS (Eglin AFB) will lose five MH-60GS, the 8th SOS (Eglin AFB) will lose one MC-130Е; Georgia — 700th AS (AFRC — Dobbins ARB) is to assume a C-130H training mission; Illinois — the 375th AW (Scott AFB) will transfer one C-9A to the 374th AW (Yokota AB, PACAF); Kansas — the 127th BS (ANG — McConnell AFB) will lose two B-1Bs; Minnesota — the 179th FS (ANG — Duluth IAP) is to convert from an air defence mission to a general purpose mission; Mississippi Detachment 2 of the 33rd Flight Test Squadron (Keesler AFB) has been activated to provide C-130J training; Missouri — the 325th BS (Whiteman AFB) will gain two B-2As and the 394th CTS will gain a single T-38A; New Jersey — the 305th AMW will lose ten C-141BS; New Mexico — the 512th SOS (Kirtland AFB) will gain four HH-60Gs, the 550th SOS will gain two HC-130s; North Carolina -the 333rd FS (Seymour Johnson AFB) will gain three F-15Es; North Dakota — the 5th BW (Minot AFB) will lose 18 attrition reserve B-52HS; the 178th FS (ANG — Hector IAP) is to convert from an air defence mission to a general purpose mission and maintain an alert detachment at Langley AFB, VA; Ohio — the 162nd FS (ANG — Springfield-Beckley Municipal Airport) is to become an F-16 training unit; South Carolina — the 437th AW (Charleston AFB) will lose 12 C-141 Bs; South Dakota — the 77th BS (Ellsworth AFB) will gain six B-1Bs for training; Texas — the 13th BS (Dyess AFB) will activate with six B-1Bs in a training role; the 111th FS (ANG — Ellington Field) will convert from an air defence mission to a general purpose mission, the 182nd FS (ANG — Kelly AFB) is to become an F-16 training unit; Washington — the 62nd AW (McChord AFB) will lose ten C-141Bs and gain nine C-17As.