Air Training Command

Air Training Command

Infobox Military Unit
unit_name= Air Training Command

caption= Air Training Command emblem
dates= 1946 - 1993
country= United States
branch= United States Army Air Forces (1946-1947)
United States Air Force (1947-1993)
type= Major Command
role= Air Force Basic, Flight and Technical training
garrison= Randolph Air Force Base, Texas
Air Training Command (ATC) is a former major command of the United States Army Air Forces and United States Air Force. ATC came into being as a redesignation of the Army Air Forces Training Command on July 1, 1946. Its headquarters were located at Randolph Air Force Base near San Antonio, Texas.

Air Training Command and Air University merged to form the Air Education and Training Command (AETC) on July 1, 1993. Headquarters AETC is located at Randolph AFB today. [ [ A Brief History of Air Education and Training Command] ]



* Established as Air Corps Flying Training Command on 23 Jan 1942: Redesignated: Army Air Forces Flying Training Command c. 15 Mar 1942: Redesignated: Army Air Forces Training Command on 31 Jul 1943: Redesignated: Air Training Command on 1 Jul 1946: Redesignated: Air Education and Training Command, 1 Jul 1993


* Chief of Air Corps, 23 Jan 1942
* Headquarters, Army Air Forces, 7 Jul 1943
* Headquarters United States Air Force, 17 Sep 1947 - 1 Jul 1993


* Randolph Field, Texas, 23 Jan 1942
* Fort Worth, Texas, 21 Aug 1942
* Barksdale Field (later, AFB), Louisiana, 25 Feb 1946
* Scott AFB, Illinois, 17 Oct 1949
* Randolph AFB, Texas, 15 Sep 1957 - 1 Jul 1993

Major Components

* Army Air Force (AAF) Eastern Technical Training Command: (later, AAF Technical Training Command; Technical Division, ATC): 31 Jul 1943-14 Nov 1949
* Indoctrination Division, ATC: 1 Nov 1946-1 Nov 1949
* Gulf Coast Air Corps Training Center: (later, Gulf Coast AAF Training Center; AAF Central Flying Training Command; AAF Western Flying Training Command; AAF Flying Training Command; Flying Division, ATC): 23 Jan 1942-14 Nov 1949
* Air Training Communications: 1 Oct 1990-1 Oct 1991.

Air Forces
* Crew Training: 16 Mar 1952-1 Jul 1957
* Flying Training: 1 May 1951-1 Apr 1958
* Technical Training: 1 May 1951-1 Jun 1958

* Air University (formerly, a Major Command): 15 May 1978-1 Jul 1983

* San Antonio Real Property Maintenance: 15 Feb 1977-1 Oct 1989.

* USAF (later, AF) Recruiting: 8 Jul 1959-1 Jul 1993

* San Antonio Joint Military Medical: 16 Feb 1987-1 Oct 1991

* AF Reserve Officers Training: 30 Jun 1983-1 Jul 1993

* 3545 USAF: 1 Oct 1958-30 Jun 1971

* Community College of the Air Force: 1 Apr 1972-1 Jul 1993

* Medical Service, USAF: 1 Oct 1961-7 Jun 1971
* Officer Training, USAF (later, School of Military Sciences, Officer; Officer Training): 1 Jun 1972-14 Nov 1986.

* Goodfellow Technical Training Center: 1 Mar 1985-1 Jul 1993: 3480 Technical Training Wing: Goodfellow AFB, Texas
* Amarillo Technical Training Center: 1 Jun 1958-31 Dec 1968: 3320 Technical Training Wing: Amarillo AFB, Texas (Closed 1968)
* Chanute Technical Training Center: 1 Jun 1958-1 Jul 1993: 3345 Technical Training Wing: Chanute AFB, Illinois (Closed 1993)
* Keesler Technical Training Center: 1 Jun 1958-1 Jul 1993: 3380 Technical Training Wing: Keesler AFB, Mississippi
* Lowry Technical Training Center: 1 Jun 1958-1 Jul 1993.: 3415 Technical Training : Lowry AFB, Colorado (Closed 1993)
* Lackland Military Training Center: 1 Jun 1958-1 Jul 1993: 3700 Military Training Wing: Lackland AFB, Texas
* Sheppard Technical Training Center: 1 Jun 1958-1 Jul 1993: 3750 Technical Training Wing: Sheppard AFB, Texas
* Human Resources Research: 10 Oct 1949-1 Apr 1953
* San Antonio Procurement (later, San Antonio Contracting): 1 Jan 1977-1 Apr 1989
* USAF Aerospace Medical: 1 Oct 1959-1 Nov 1961
* USAF Instrument Flight: 1 Oct 1983-1 May 1992
* USAF Occupational Measurement (later, Squadron): 1 May 1978-1 Oct 1990

* 3510 Combat Crew Training (later, 3510 Pilot Training): 1 Apr 1958-1 May 1972: Replaced by: 12 Flying Training: 1 May 1972-1 Jul 1993: Randolph AFB, Texas
* 3650 Pilot Training: 15 Feb 1969- 1 Jun 1972: Replaced by: 14 Flying Training: 1 Jun 1972-1 Jul 1993: Columbus AFB, Mississippi
* 3615 Flying Training: 1 Apr 1958-1 Jul 1972: Replaced by: 29 Flying Training: 1 Jul 1972-30 Sep 1977: Craig AFB, Alabama (Closed 1977)
* 3640 Pilot Training: 1 Apr 1958-1 Aug 1972: Replaced by: 38 Flying Training: 1 Aug 1972-30 Sep 1973; 1 Dec 1973-1 Dec 1975: Laredo AFB, Texas (Closed 1973), later Moody AFB, Georgia
* 3646 Pilot Training: 16 Oct 1961-1 Sep 1972: Replaced by: 47 Flying Training: 1 Sep 1972-1 Jul 1993: Laughlin AFB, Texas
* 3500 Pilot Training: 1 Apr 1958-1 Oct 1972: Replaced by: 64 Flying Training: 1 Oct 1972-1 Jul 1993: Little Rock AFB, Arkansas
* 3575 Pilot Training: 1 Apr 1958-1 Nov 1972: Replaced by: 71 Flying Training: 1 Nov 1972-1 Jul 1993: Vance AFB, Oklaholma
* 3560 Pilot Training: 1 Apr 1958-1 Dec 1972: Replaced by: 78 Flying Training: 1 Dec 1972-30 Sep 1977: Webb AFB, Texas (Closed 1977)
* 3630 Flying Training: 10 Dec 1965-1 Apr 1967; 15 Mar 1971-1 Jan 1973: Replaced by: 80 Flying Training: 1 Jan 1973-1 Jul 1993: Sheppard AFB, Texas
* 3525 Pilot Training: 1 Oct 1960-1 Feb 1973: Replaced by: 82 Flying Training (later, 82 Training): 1 Feb 1973-31 Mar 1993: Williams AFB, Arizona (Closed 1993, BRAC I)
* 3535 Navigator Training: 1 Apr 1958-1 Apr 1973: Replaced by: 323 Flying Training: 1 Apr 1973-1 Jul 1993: Mather AFB, California (Closed 1993, BRAC I)
* 59 Medical (formerly, Wilford Hall USAF Medical Center): 15 Jan-16 Feb 1987; 1 Oct 1991-1 Jul 1993: Lackland AFB, Texas
* 3480 Technical Training: 1 Jul 1978-1 Mar 1985: Goodfellow AFB, Texas
* 3499 Field Training: 1 Jun 1958-1 Sep 1959: Chanute AFB, Illinois (Closed 1993, BRAC I)
* 3500 USAF Recruiting Wing (WAF): 1 Jun 1958-8 Jul 1959: Randolph AFB, Texas
* 3505 Pilot Training: 1 Apr 1958-1 Dec 1960: Greenville AFB, Mississippi (Closed 1965)
* 3545 Pilot Training: 1 Apr-1 Oct 1958: Goodfellow AFB, Texas
* 3565 Navigator Training: 1 Apr 1958-1 Jan 1966: Connally AFB, Texas (Closed 1966)
* 3610 Navigator Training: 1 Apr 1958-1 Jul 1962: Harlingen AFB, Texas (Closed 1962)
* 3550 Combat Crew Training (Interceptor) (later, 3550 Flying Training): 1 Apr 1958-1 Dec 1973: Moody AFB, Georgia
* 3555 Combat Crew Training (Interceptor) (later 3550 Flying Training): 1 Apr 1958-1 Jul 1962: Perrin AFB, Texas (Closed 1971)
* 3635 Combat Crew Training (Survival) (later, 3635 Flying Training): 1 Apr 1958-15 Jun 1966: Stead AFB, Nevada (Closed 1966)
* 3636 Combat Crew Training (Survival) (later, 336 Crew Training Group): 1 Apr 1971-1 Jul 1993: Fairchild AFB, Washington

Operational History

Air Training Command (ATC) was originally formed in January 1942 as Army Air Forces Technical Training Command and trained more than 13 million people.

Postwar Era 1940s

At the end of World War II, the post-war drawdown resulted in several organizational changes for the Army Air Forces. In February 1946, AAF Training Command’s headquarters moved from the leased facility in Forth Worth, Texas to Barksdale Field, Louisiana. On 1 July 1946, Army Air Forces redesignated the command as Air Training Command (ATC). On 1 November 1946, Air Training Command adopted a three-division organizational structure – Flying Division, Technical Division, and Indoctrination Division. And in September 1947, the National Defense Act established the United States Air Force as a separate service.

During the late 1940s, ATC first began using the Lockheed T-33 “Shooting Star” jet aircraft in advanced single-engine pilot training. But when the Berlin Blockade ended in 1949, the Air Force was again hit with reductions that resulted in forced reorganizations and reduced training.

Because the long runways at Barksdale AFB were better suited to strategic bombers than trainer aircraft, Air Force transferred Barksdale to Strategic Air Command in September 1949. Headquarters ATC consequently was moved to Scott AFB, Illinois, effective 17 October 1949. And in November 1949, Defense Department directives targeting intermediate levels of command compelled ATC to abolish its three-division organizational structure and take over direct administration of the entire training program.

Korean War and the 1950s

This lull in training production, combined with Fiscal Year 1950 budget cuts, resulted in a shortage of trained manpower when the Korean War erupted in June 1950. The Air Force resorted to an involuntary recall of reservists to fill the gap while Air Training Command expanded its training efforts to meet wartime demands.

Shortly after the war began, the Air Staff transferred most of the combat aircrew training mission from the operational commands to ATC, placing an even heavier burden on the command. Air Force directed Air Training Command to double pilot production to 7,200 per year, and to increase technician production to 225,000 per year. With the end of the Korean War on 27 July 1953, Air Training Command again began to reduce its training activities.

Many of the command’s facilities were transferred to Strategic Air Command (SAC) and Tactical Air Command (TAC) in the 1950s. Over the next ten years, ATC reduced its bases from 43 to 16, and its personnel from 271,849 to 79,272. In large part this was due to the return of the crew training mission to the operational commands. In 1958, ATC returned bomber crew training to SAC and fighter crew training to TAC.

At about the same time, ATC gained another mission when it took over responsibility for the recruiting mission in 1954. Then in 1957, Headquarters Air Training Command moved from Scott AFB, Illinois, to Randolph AFB, Texas, in order to reduce operating costs by being closer to its primary training facilities.

One year later, the command began experimenting with eliminating propeller-driven aircraft from primary pilot training. “Project All-Jet” was a success, and in 1959, ATC began replacing the North American T-28 “Trojan” propeller-driven trainer with the Cessna T-37 “Tweety Bird” jet engine primary trainer.

Vietnam War and the 1960s

In the early 1960s, ATC converted from specialized to generalized undergraduate pilot training (UPT). During this time, the command retired the World War II-era North American B-25 “Mitchell” it had been using for advanced multi-engine training under specialized UPT. Under generalized UPT, all pilots received the same training, regardless of what type of operational aircraft they would ultimately fly. ATC acquired the North American T-38 “Talon” jet, and it became the main advanced trainer aircraft for all student pilots.

The first T-37/T-38 undergraduate pilot training course was held at Webb AFB, Texas, in February 1962. During the next few years, increasing numbers of US service members went to Southeast Asia as military advisors to the South Vietnamese armed forces, but the effect on ATC was negligible.

When President Lyndon B. Johnson increased America’s military involvement in South Vietnam in 1965, there was a resultant increase in Air Force military and technical training. However, unlike previous wars, the Vietnam War did not result in a drastic increase in the command’s bases or personnel. This was because ATC reverted to a split-phase program of basic military training, and because the command’s training philosophy was geared toward generalized rather than specialized technical training.

Pilot training gradually increased as the war dragged on. But officials reassigned many of ATC’s best instructor pilots to the operational commands, creating severe flying training difficulties. Then in 1969, ATC’s involvement in a program of training and equipping the South Vietnamese Air Force to become a self-sufficient, 40-squadron air force caused technical training production to surge by approximately 50 percent, to over 310,000. This increase, however, was not to last long.

Post-Vietnam and the 1970s

As popular support for the Vietnam War waned and American forces began to pull out of Southeast Asia, ATC’s training requirements gradually diminished. President Richard Nixon ended the draft on 30 June 1973, converting the military to an all-volunteer force. Also, during this period the percentage of recruits with a high school education declined to the lowest point in the history of the Air Force. These factors combined to make the 1970s yet another era of change for Air Training Command.

One change was in the command’s approach to technical training. Poor retention rates and the generally lower quality of recruits prompted ATC to shift from a “career oriented” technical training philosophy to one of teaching only those tasks recruits needed during their first enlistment. This reduced the length of training while also lowering training costs. To supplement on-duty training, and in hopes of attracting higher-quality recruits, Air Force established the Community College of the Air Force in 1972 as part of ATC.

Another change came in the form of increased opportunities for women. The first class of 10 women pilots in the USAF received their wings on 2 September 1977, and the first class of female graduates from undergraduate navigator training received their wings at Mather AFB, California, on 12 October 1977.

Other changes came out of the need to reduce training costs in order to fund the F-15, F-16 and A-10 modernization programs. These included closing Craig and Webb Air Force Bases, increasing reliance on flight simulators, and reducing flying hours in undergraduate pilot training.

Still another change was the way in which ATC conducted undergraduate navigator training. In 1978, navigator training shifted from generalized to specialized, with follow-on advanced training specific to the student’s career track.

In keeping with the consolidations of the 1970s, Air Training Command assumed responsibility in 1978 for two additional functions: Air University and cryptologic training. Air Force transferred Air University to ATC effective 15 May 1978. This consolidation brought all professional military education under the same roof as basic military, technical, and flying training. However, Air Force officials soon became concerned this arrangement lowered the visibility and diminished the importance of Air War College and the other schools.

Therefore, on 1 July 1983 – little more than five years after the realignment – Air Force once again conveyed separate command status upon Air University. The USAF Security Service at Goodfellow AFB, Texas, had conducted all Air Force cryptologic training since 1958. On 1 July 1978, both Goodfellow and the cryptologic training mission transferred to ATC.

Reagan Era and the 1980s

During the military expansion of the Reagan Administration in the early 1980s, ATC was able to improve training in several areas. The command added more flying hours to the pilot training program and extended the course by three weeks.

In the fall of 1981, ATC began training pilots from North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) countries under the Euro-NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training (ENJJPT) program at Sheppard AFB, Texas.

In 1984, expanded training budgets allowed the command to change back to a philosophy of training technical personnel to the fullest extent possible, rather than limiting training to the skills needed only for the first enlistment. Technical training courses, especially those in “sortie-producing” specialties, were expanded from generalist courses to specialized instruction. By 1985, the average length for these courses had risen to nearly 17 weeks.

However, several events in the middle and late 1980s brought about the next cycle of restricted military spending affecting ATC’s mission. By Fiscal Year 1988, funding for technical training dropped by over 15 percent, and the command had to institute a civilian hiring freeze. Then, in rapid succession beginning in 1989, the Berlin Wall came down, the Soviet Union collapsed, and the Cold War was over. Suddenly, the threat from the East that had dominated American military thinking for decades was gone. Congress quickly cut military spending in response to the diminished threat.

Persian Gulf War and Post-Cold War Reorganization of the 1990s

In the midst of these world changes, the Persian Gulf War erupted when Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi forces invaded Kuwait on 2 August 1990. In support of wartime demands, ATC deployed over 3,000 command personnel to other commands. Then ATC called up 2,387 individual mobilization augmentee reservists and over 1,000 inactive reservists and Air Force retirees to fill active duty positions vacated by wartime deployments.

Air Force also activated ATC’s 11th Contingency Hospital and deployed it to the United Kingdom to treat expected casualties from the war. Fortunately, the Persian Gulf War did not produce large numbers of American casualties, and the conflict was soon over.

Air Training Command got on with the task of consolidating training and in Fiscal Years 1993 and 1994 closed Chanute, Mather, Williams, and Lowry Air Force Bases. However, despite the return to tightened budgets, ATC did not back off from its commitment to fully train personnel to be mission ready upon arrival at their first operational assignment.

An especially important Year of Training initiative was the recommendation to create a single, coherent education and training structure for officer, enlisted, and civilian personnel. As a result of this recommendation, Air Force again merged Air University and ATC, redesignating the command as the Air Education and Training Command (AETC) on 1 July 1993.


"Much of this text in an early version of this article was taken from pages on the [ Air Education and Training Command] (AETC website, which as a work of the U.S. Government is presumed to be a public domain resource."

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