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Eighteenth Air Force

The Eighteenth Air Force (18 AF), headquartered at Scott Air Force Base, Ill., was first activated on March 28, 1951 to execute Tactical Air Command's troop carrier responsibilities and became operational as the 18th Air Force on June 26, 1951. Based on budgetary limitations, it was formally inactivated on Jan. 1, 1958 and its forces were reassigned to the 12th Air Force. It was reactivated Oct. 1, 2003, as the operational component of Air Mobility Command (AMC). It is AMC's only Numbered Air Force (NAF).

Provide ready aircraft, Airmen, and equipment for contested global air mobility operations…anytime, anywhere.

Ready today, prepared for tomorrow... EXPEDITE.

18th Air Force has more than 400 mobility aircraft consisting of the C-17, KC-135, C-5, KC-10, C-130, C-37, C-32A, C-40, VC-25, C-21, and KC-46.

18th Air Force, commanded by a two-star general, is charged with ensuring readiness and sustainment of approximately 36,000 active duty, Reserve and civilian Airmen. Active-duty units reporting to 18th AF include:

Joint Base Andrews, Md. - 89th Airlift Wing
Joint Base Charleston, S.C. - 437th Airlift Wing
Dover AFB, Del. - 436th Airlift Wing
Dyess AFB, Texas - 317th Airlift Wing
Fairchild AFB, Wash. - 92nd Air Refueling Wing
Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. - 62nd Airlift Wing
Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J. - 305th Air Mobility Wing
Little Rock AFB, Ark. - 19th Airlift Wing
MacDill AFB, Fla. - 6th Air Mobility Wing
McConnell AFB, Kan. - 22nd Air Refueling Wing
Scott AFB, Ill. - 375th Air Mobility Wing
Travis AFB, Calif. - 60th Air Mobility Wing

History (1951 - 1958)
Organized on March 28, 1951, at Donaldson AFB in Greenville, S.C., and assigned to Tactical Air Command (TAC), the primary mission of the 18 AF (Troop Carrier), was the training of troop carrier crews. Immediately after activation, it began to provide trained crews and other personnel in support of the Korean War.

Redesignated as 18 AF on June 26, 1951, the command quickly became involved with numerous activities including troop movements in the continental United States, Distant Early Warning (DEW) radar operations in numerous allied nations, and support of U.S. scientific efforts at the South Pole in Antarctica.

18 AF was initially made up of nine medium C-119 "Flying Boxcar" troop carrier wings based in the continental United States. Seven of the wings belonged to the Air Force Reserve and were activated for the Korean War. Two heavy wings flying the C-124 "Globemaster II" were added in late 1951 and early 1953.
In the Spring of 1952, C-124s belonging to 18 AF were sent to Japan to fly missions in support of the Korean War. As the Korean War wound down, command C-119s were sent to Indochina to support French military operations out of Tourane Air Base in what is now the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.

By early 1953, the Reserve wings were replaced by active duty wings. 18 AF organized, administered, trained, and prepared its assigned troop carrier units for combat, and augmented troop carrier forces in the Far East and Europe.

In 1954, 18 AF C-119s airdropped supplies to the besieged French paratroops at Dien Bien Phu, Indochina, and later airlifted wounded French soldiers to Japan. Due to diplomatic concerns, these missions were primarily flown by civilian crews.

During this time, 18 AF continued to provide troop carrier aircraft and crews in support of joint operations and training (to include airborne paratroop training), worked to improve communications and medical evacuation capabilities, and provided airlift to other Major Commands and TAC organizations. However, the advent of the jet age caused an evolution in TAC's mission, with a resulting focus on the rapid deployment of heavily armed fighter/bomber units and Army airborne/light infantry units to world "trouble spots" as part of the Nation's strategy to 'contain' the Soviet Union.

In support of this new focus, TAC added C-123 "Provider" and C-130 "Hercules" aircraft and used them alongside Military Air Transport Service's strategic airlift capability to rapidly deploy and resupply forces around the world as part of what was known as the "Composite Air Strike Force."

18 AF was heavily committed to the installation of DEW radars along the Arctic Circle from 1955-1957 as well as to Operation Deep Freeze I and II at the South Pole from 1956 to 1957 including the first parachute jump at the South Pole in November 1956.

The command was also instrumental in developing the aerial port concept, including techniques and equipment supporting air land loading and airdrop operations, the Air Force "Pathfinder" combat controller capability (which established drop zone experts), and assault landing procedures for C-123 and C-130 aircraft.

A realignment of troop carrier forces in 1957 transferred the C-124s from 18 AF to the Military Air Transport Service, and the 18 AF headquarters was moved from Donaldson AFB to Connally AFB, Waco, Texas on Sept. 1, 1957. At Connally AFB, 18 AF gained responsibility for TAC's day-to-day fighter, fighter-bomber, and aerial tanker operations in the western United States.

On Jan. 1, 1958 18 AF was formally inactivated and its forces were reassigned to the 12th Air Force.

During this period, 18 AF was responsible for a total of four Air Divisions and 16 wings while headquartered at Donaldson AFB and seven wings while headquartered at Connally AFB. Additionally, the command had the following aircraft assigned:
B-26 Invader
B-45 Tornado
B-57 Canberra
C-45 Expeditor
C-46 Commando
C-47 Skytrain
C-54 Skymaster
C-82 Packet
C-110 Flying Boxcar
C-123 Provider
C-124 Globemaster II
C-130 Hercules
F-84 Thunderjet
F-86 Sabre
F-100 Super Sabre
F-101 Voodoo
KB-50 Superfortress (Tanker)
KC-29 Superfortress (Tanker)
YC-122 Avitruc

History (2003 - Present)
18 AF was reactivated on Oct. 1, 2003 at Scott AFB, Belleville, Ill., as part of a broader Air Mobility Command reorganization to enhance mobility support to Combatant Commanders. The reactivation focused global mobility operational warfighting and force presentation through a single active duty Numbered Air Force - currently the Air Force's largest NAF.

The reactivated command included two Expeditionary Mobility Task Forces (EMTFs): the 15th EMTF at Travis AFB, Calif. and the 21st EMTF at McGuire AFB, N.J. Both EMTFs were led by Brigadier Generals and provided command over the east and west global mobility enterprises to include the command's fixed, enroute and contingency response forces. Each EMTF included an Air Mobility Operations Wing (AMOW) leading the fixed enroute forces and a Contingency Response Wing (CRW) commanding the contingency response forces that provided "bare base" opening capabilities in support of global joint forces.

In January 2011, the Air Base Wings at Joint Base Charleston, S.C.; Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J.; Grand Forks Air Force Base, N.D.; the Air Base Group at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.; and the 43rd Airlift Group at Pope Field, N.C., were realigned under the administrative command of the U.S. Air Force Expeditionary Center (USAF EC) at JB McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J. A little more than a year later, in March 2012, the EMTFs, AMOWs and CRWs were also administratively realigned under the USAF EC and the 615th CRW at Travis was inactivated. Forces under the command of the 615th CRW were realigned under the 621st CRW. These actions were designed to better enable 18 AF to focus on its core competency of presentation of operational flying forces to the Combatant Commanders and to further streamline air mobility operations.

Following the March 2012 restructuring, 18 AF was comprised of 11 wings, and two groups. One of the standalone groups, the 317th Airlift Group at Dyess AFB, Texas, was reactivated as an airlift wing July 6, 2017, bringing the number of wings up to 12.

Aircraft assigned to 18th Air Force since 2003 include:
KC-135 A/R/T/RT

As they have throughout the command's history, the people and aircraft of 18 AF continue to work hard to deliver the promise of global reach for America.

During the 1951 to 1958 period, 18 AF had three commanders:
Col. Earl B. Young (March - May 1951)
Maj. Gen. Robert W. Douglass, Jr. (May 1951 - November 1954)
Maj. Gen. Chester E. McCarty (November 1954 - January 1958)
Since reactivation in 2003, its commanders have included:
Maj. Gen. Paul. W. Essex (October 2003 - December 2003
Lt. Gen. William Welser III (December 2003 - November 2005)
Maj. Gen. James A. Hawkins (November 2005 - June 2008)
Maj. Gen. Winfield W. Scott III (June 2008 - August 2009)
Lt. Gen. Robert R. Allardice (August 2009 - September 2011)
Lt. Gen. Mark F. Ramsay (September 2011 - August 2012)
Lt. Gen. Darren W. McDew (August 2012 - April 2014)
Lt. Gen. Carlton D. Everhart II (June 2014 - August 2015)
Lt. Gen. Samuel D. Cox (October 2015 - June 2017)
Lt. Gen. Giovanni K. Tuck (June 2017 - July 2018)
Maj. Gen. Sam C. Barrett (July 2018 - July 2020)
Maj Gen. Kenneth T. Bibb (August 2020 - August 2022)
Maj Gen. Corey J. Martin (August 2022 - Present)

18th Air Force Emblem
The 18 AF Emblem was designed in accordance with Air Force Regulation 900-7 (dated July 27, 1950) at Donaldson AFB and approved by the Air Staff on July 19, 1951.

The significance of the design is as follows: ultramarine blue and Air Force yellow are the Air Force colors. Blue alludes to the sky, the primary theater of Air Force operations. Yellow refers to the sun and the excellence of Air Force personnel. The chevron and wings are ancient military symbols of strength and protection. The parachutes, representative of equipment used by the Eighteenth Air Force in carrying out its mission with speed, safety, and success, are suitable symbols for the organization. The motto "Expedite" (With Dispatch) expresses the meaning of successfully accomplishing all duties performed.


Heraldic Device
The 18 AF Heraldic Device is made up of a globe representing the command's global area of operations. It is defended by spires which proudly recount the command's operations, aircraft, units, and commanders that have led the command to success. The device is also honored in the following poem:

Around this crystal globe
18th Air Force unit spires, past and present, stand
Comprised today of 39,000 airmen serving in the air, and on land
Somewhere a need will arise
Then, a request for hope
And off we go to help them cope
We fuel the fight
We save lives
Our global mobility enterprise, thrives
We span the world
Our airman stand tall
18th Air Force is there when our nation calls

(Current as of January 2023)