Second Air Force

Second Air Force
Second Air Force
2d Air Force.png
Second Air Force emblem

Air Education and Training Command.png
Part of Air Education and Training Command
Active 19 October 1940
Country United States of America
Branch United States Air Force
Part of Air Education and Training Command
Garrison/HQ Keesler Air Force Base
Motto Second to None
Major General Leonard A. "Len" Patrick
Ceremonial chief Command Chief Master Sergeant Linus Jordan

The Second Air Force (2 AF) is a numbered air force of the United States Air Force Air Education and Training Command (AETC). It is headquartered at Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi.

2 AF is responsible for conducting basic military and technical training for Air Force enlisted members and support officers.

One of the four original pre–World War II numbered air forces, 2 AF was activated on 19 October 1940, at McChord Field, Washington with a mission of air defense of the Northwestern United States and Upper Midwest regions. During the war, its primary mission became the organization and training of combat units prior to their deployment to the overseas combat air forces.

During the Cold War, 2 AF was one of the five (Second, Eighth, Fifteenth, Sixteenth and Twentieth)Numbered Air Forces of the United States Air Force Strategic Air Command (SAC), commanding USAF strategic bombers and missiles on a global scale. Elements of Second Air Force engaged in combat operations during the Korean War; Vietnam War, as well as Operation Desert Storm.

2 AF is commanded by Major General Leonard A. "Len" Patrick . Its Command Chief Master Sergeant is Chief Master Sergeant Linus Jordan.



The command has the mission is to train the absolute best mission ready graduates to support combat readiness and to build the world's most respected air and space force. To carry out this mission, Second Air Force manages all operational aspects of nearly 5,000 active training courses taught to approximately 250,000 students annually in technical training, basic military training, medical and distance learning courses. Training operations across Second Air Force range from intelligence to computer operations to space and missile operations and maintenance.

The first stop for all Air Force, Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve enlisted airmen is basic military training (BMT) at Lackland AFB, Texas. After completing BMT, airmen begin technical training in their career field specialties, primarily at five installations: Goodfellow, Lackland, and Sheppard Air Force bases in TX; Keesler AFB, MS; and Vandenberg AFB, CA. Each base is responsible for a specific portion of formal technical training airmen require to accomplish the Air Force mission. Highly trained instructors conduct technical training in specialties such as aircraft maintenance, civil engineering, medical services, computer systems, security forces, air traffic control, personnel, intelligence, fire fighting, and space and missile operations.

Commissioned officers attend technical training courses for similar career fields at the same locations.


Wings and Groups under Second Air Force are:

  • 81st Training Wing Keesler Air Force Base Mississippi
    Provides training in Aviation Resource Management, weather, basic electronics, communications electronic systems, communications computer systems, air traffic control, airfield management, command post, air weapons control, precision measurement, education and training, financial management and comptroller, information management, manpower and personnel.
  • 82d Training Wing Sheppard Air Force Base Texas
    Provides specialized technical training, medical, and field training for officers, Airmen, and civilians of all branches of the military, other DoD agencies, and foreign nationals.
  • 381st Training Group Vandenberg AFB, California
    Provides qualification training for intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM), space surveillance, missile warning, spacelift, and satellite command and control operators. It also performs initial and advanced maintenance training on air launched missiles (ALM) and ICBM's. It conducts training in joint space fundamentals and associated computer maintenance. The group also conducts qualification and orientation training for Air Force Space Command (AFSPC) staff and senior-level personnel, as well as instructor enhancement in support of operational units.
  • 602d Training Group Keesler Air Force Base Mississippi
    Provides fully combat mission capable Airmen to all Combatant Commanders in direct support of the Joint Expeditionary Tasking (JET) mission.

In 2006, Second Air Force was assigned the responsibility of coordinating training for Joint Expeditionary Tasked (JET) Training Airmen. These Airmen are assigned to perform traditional US Army duties in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Horn of Africa. An Expeditionary Mission Support Group was formed to provide command and control of these JET Airmen as they are trained at US Army Power Projection Platforms across the US prior to deploying to their assigned Area of Responsibility (AOR). This group has been officially named the 602d Training Group.

In 2007, Second Air Force was given responsibility to provide curricula and advice to the Iraqi Air Force as it stands up its own technical training and branch specific basic training among others. This mission is known as "CAFTT" for Coalition Air Forces Technical Training.



  • Established as Northwest Air District on 19 October 1940
Activated on 18 December 1940
Redesignated: 2d Air Force on 26 March 1941
Redesignated: Second Air Force on 18 September 1942
Inactivated on 30 March 1946
  • Activated on 6 June 1946
Inactivated on 1 July 1948
  • Activated on 1 November 1949
Inactivated on 1 January 1975
  • Activated on 1 September 1991
Inactivated on 1 July 1993
  • Activated on 1 July 1993.


  • General Headquarters Air Force
(later, Air Force Combat Command) 18 December 1940
  • Western Defense Command, 11 December 1941
  • Air Force Combat Command
(later, United States Army Air Forces), 5 January 1942
  • Continental Air Forces13 December 1944
Strategic Air Command 21 March 1946 – 30 March 1946 * Air Defense Command, 6 June 1946 – 1 July 1948


  • McChord Field, Washington, 18 December 1940
  • Fort George Wright, Washington, 9 January 1941
  • Colorado Springs AAF, Colorado, 13 June 1943 – 30 March 1946
  • Fort Crook, Nebraska, 6 June 1946 – 1 July 1948
  • Barksdale AFB, Louisiana, 1 November 1949 – 1 January 1975
  • Beale AFB, California, 1 September 1991 – 1 July 1993
  • Keesler AFB, Mississippi 1 July 1993 – .



  • I Bomber: 1 May – 6 October 1943
Redesignated: XX Bomber: 20 November 1943 – 29 June 1944
472d Bombardment Group, 1 September 1943 – 1 April 1944
  • II Fighter: 4 June 1941 – August 1942
  • 2d Air Force Service (later, 2d Air Force Base): 1 October 1941 – 20 May 1942.
  • 2d Air Support (later, 2d Ground Air Support; II Air Support): 1 September 1941 – 25 January 1943
5th Bombardment Wing
  • 2d Bomber (later, II Bomber): 5 September 1941 – 6 October 1943.
  • 4th Air Support (later, IV Air Support): 12 August 1942 – 21 January 1943.
  • XXI Bomber: 1 March 1944 – 9 November 1944
  • XXII Bomber: 14 August 1944 – 13 February 1945


  • 4th Air (later, 4th Strategic Aerospace): 16 June 1952 – 31 March 1970
  • 6th Air: 10 February 1951 – 16 June 1952; 16 June 1952 – 1 January 1959.
  • 17th Air (later, 17th Strategic Aerospace): 15 July 1959 – 1 July 1963
  • 19th Air: 1 July 1955 – 1 January 1975.
  • 21st Air (later, 21st Strategic Aerospace): 1 January 1959 – 1 September 1964
  • 22d Air: 15 July 1959 – 9 September 1960. 37 Air: 10 October 1951 – 28 May 1952
  • 37th Air: 10 October 1951 – 28 May 1952
  • 38th Air: 10 October 1951 – 16 June 1952; 16 June 1952 – 1 January 1959
  • 40th Air
14 March 1951 – 1 July 1952
1 July 1952 – 1 April 1957
1 July 1959 – 1 January 1975
1 April 1955 – 1 July 1957
15 July 1959 – 2 July 1969
1 January 1970 – 1 January 1975


18 December 1940 – 1 September 1941
23 June 1942 – 8 April 1946


Second Air Force region of the United States, World War II

One of the four original numbered air forces, Second Air Force was activated as the Northwest Air District of the GHQ Air Force on 19 October 1940, at McChord Field, Washington. It was redesignated Second Air Force on 26 March 1941 with a mission for the defense of the Pacific Northwest and Upper Great Plains regions of the United States.

World War II

During the initial months after the Pearl Harbor Attack, Second Air Force organized air defense for the northwest Pacific Ocean coastline of the United States (1940–1941) and flew antisubmarine patrols along coastal areas until October 1942. In late January 1942, elements of the B-25 Mitchell-equipped 17th Bombardment Group at Pendleton Field, Oregon were reassigned to Columbia Army Air Base, South Carolina ostensibly to fly antisubmarine patrols off the southeast coast of the United States, but in actuality came to prepare for the Doolittle Raid against Japan.

Beginning in 1942, the mission of Second Air Force became supporting the Army Air Forces Training Command's mission of training of units, crews, and individuals for bombardment, fighter, and reconnaissance operations. After personnel graduated from AAFTC flight schools; navigator training; flexible gunnery schools and various technical schools, Second Air Force organized the personnel, aircraft and equipment into combat groups and squadrons. The newly-formed units received secondary training prior to their assignment to the deployed combat air forces in the various overseas theaters. Second Air Force became the training organization of B-17 Flying Fortress and B-24 Liberator heavy bombardment groups. Nearly all new heavy bomb groups organized after Pearl Harbor were organized and trained at Second Air Force Bases, by II Bomber Command operational training units (OTU) then were deployed to combat commands around the world.

Starting in mid-1943 the training of B-17 and B-24 replacement crews began to be phased out, and ressigned to First, Third and Fourth Air Forces as the command began ramping up training of B-29 Superfortress Very Heavy bomb groups, destined for Twentieth Air Force. Under the newly organized XX Bomber Command, B-29 aircraft were received from Boeing's manufacturing plants and new combat groups were organized and trained. XX Bomber Command and the first B-29 groups were deployed in December 1943 to airfields in India for Operation Matterhorn operations against Japan.

A football team made up of Second Air Force personnel defeated Hardin-Simmons University in the 1943 Sun Bowl. (More details: Sun Bowl 1943 Second Air Force 13 Hardin-Simmons 7)

XXI Bomber Command, the second B-29 combat command and control organization was formed under Second Air Force in March, 1944 with its combat groups beginning to deploy to the Mariana Islands in the Western Pacific beginning in December 1944. A third B-29 organization, XXII Bomber Command was formed by Second Air Force in August 1944, however the organization never got beyond forming Headquarters echelon and Headquarters squadron. Inactivated before any operational groups were assigned, as XX Bomber Command units were reassigned from India to the Marianas, eliminating need for the command.

By 1944, the vast majority of the USAAF was engaged in combat operations in various parts of the world, such as the Eighth Air Force in Europe and the Twentieth Air Force in the Pacific. The training units located within the United States (known as the Zone of the Interior, or "ZI".) under First, Second, Third and Fourth Air Force were all were placed under the unified command of the Continental Air Forces (CAF) on 13 December 1944, with the Numbered Air Forces becoming subordinate commands of CAF.

The training of B-29 groups and replacement personnel continued until August 1945 and the end of the Pacific War. With the war's end, Second Air Force was inactivated on 30 March 1946.

Postwar era

The command was reactivated on 6 June 1946 under Air Defense Command. It assumed responsibility for the air defense of certain portions of the continental United States until July 1948 controlling several B-29 Superfortress bomb groups (73d, 96th Bomb Wings) and C-46 Commando troop carrier groups (322d Troop Carrier Wing). It is unclear how many of these units were actually manned or equipped. It was again inactivated on 1 July 1948.

Strategic Air Command

Second Air Force.gif

During the Cold War, Second Air Force became the first strategic air force of Strategic Air Command (SAC), being activated when the Contoinential Air Forces command was redesignated as the Strategic Air Command on 21 March 1946 activated at Peterson AAF CO and was inactivated on 30 March 1946 .The Second Air Force was reassigned to SAC on 1 November 1949 at Barksdale AFR LA.≈

The initial organization of Second Air Force as part of SAC was:

  • 6th Air Division, MacDill AFB, Florida (Assigned 10 February 1951)
305th Bombardment Wing (MacDill) (B-29)
306th Bombardment Wing (MacDill) (B-47A)(Initial B-47 Stratojet Operational Training Unit – Not on Operational Alert)
307th Bombardment Wing (MacDill) (B-29)
Detached for Korean War combat service with Far East Air Force, Kadena AB, Okinawa
  • 40th Air Division, Turner AFB, Georgia (Assigned 14 March 1951)
31st Fighter Escort Wing (Turner) (F-84)
108th Fighter Wing (Turner) (F-47D) (Federalized New Jersey Air National Guard wing)

With the end of fighting in Korea, President Eisenhower, who had taken office in January 1953, called for a "new look" at national defense. The result: a greater reliance on nuclear weapons and air power to deter war. His administration chose to invest in the Air Force, especially Strategic Air Command. The nuclear arms race shifted into high gear. The Air Force retired nearly all of its propeller-driven bombers and they were replaced by new Boeing B-47 Stratojet medium jet bombers. By 1955 the Boeing B-52 Stratofortress heavy bomber would be entering the inventory in substantial numbers and as a result, Second Air Force grew both in scope and in numbers.

Also after the Korean War, the history of Second Air Force becomes indistinguishable from that of Strategic Air Command. During the Cold War, Second Air Force aircraft and intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM)s stood nuclear alert, providing a deterrence against an attack on the United States by the Soviet Union. During the Vietnam War, squadrons of 2d Air Force B-52 Stratofortesses (B-52Ds mostly, some B-52Gs) were deployed to bases on Guam, Okinawa and Thailand conducting Arc Light strikes on communist forces. The organization was inactivated during the post Vietnam drawdown in 1975

With the end of the Cold War and the restructuring of Strategic Air Command, Second Air Force was reactivated and became the steward for reconnaissance and battlefield management assets from 1 September 1991 until 1 July 1993 when it was inactivated by Air Combat Command.

Air Education and Training Command

Second Air Force was reactivated and reassigned on 1 July 1993 to Keesler AFB, Mississippi. Its mission became conducting basic military and technical training for Air Force enlisted members and support officers at five major AETC training bases in the United States.


 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Air Force Historical Research Agency.

  • Maurer, Maurer (1983). Air Force Combat Units Of World War II. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0-89201-092-4.
  • Ravenstein, Charles A. (1984). Air Force Combat Wings Lineage and Honors Histories 1947–1977. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0-912799-12-9.

External links

  • News Stories:
Air Force News:
Air Force News:
Air Force News: Change of Command

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