Fifteenth Air Force activates, consolidates ACC’s conventional forces

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Maj. Gen. Chad P. Franks, Fifteenth Air Force commander, assumes command of 15th Air Force, after Chief Master Sgt. Benjamin W. Hedden, 15th Air Force command chief, unfurls the newest Numbered Air Force’s flag at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., Aug. 17, 2020. Ninth Air Force was inactivated and 15th Air Force was reactivated during a virtual ceremony at Shaw AFB, Aug. 20, 2020. Fifteenth Air Force was established in the Mediterranean Theater in 1943 as a strategic Air Force during World War II, transferred to Air Mobility Command in 1992 and was previously inactivated in 2012. (Air Force photograph by Tech. Sgt. Amanda Dick)
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Fifteenth Air Force activated Aug. 20, 2020, integrating wings and direct reporting units from 12th Air Force and 9th Air Force to form a new numbered air force responsible for generating and presenting Air Combat Command’s conventional forces.

Fifteenth Air Force is headquartered at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C. Twelfth Air Force was previously headquartered at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz.

ACC’s conventional capabilities include fighter, remotely piloted aircraft, command and control, and rescue flying units plus Air-Ground Operations Airmen who integrate Air Force capabilities in combined arms operations, the Air Force’s dedicated base defense group, Red Horse engineers, and the agile combat support units that open and operate our bases. In addition to organizing, training, and equipping ACC’s conventional forces, this new NAF will also present a deployable Joint Task Force-capable headquarters that can provide command and control of integrated ACC forces.

“Consolidating these forces in 15th Air Force is another step toward implementing the Air Force’s new force generation construct and will enable the delivery of dynamic and agile combat airpower as directed by the National Defense Strategy,” said Gen. Mike Holmes, Air Combat Command commander. “This reorganization will streamline and improve the way we present our conventional forces as part of the new USAF construct, while honoring our history and the dedication of our Airmen.”

Following this transition, 12th Air Force will focus on its component role for U.S Southern Command as 12 AF/AFSOUTH. Meanwhile, the existing 9th Air Force will be inactivated and AFCENT will be re-designated as 9 AF/AFCENT.

The creation of the new numbered Air Force is part of a larger force optimization effort within ACC, which began with the stand-up of 16th Air Force, a dedicated information warfare NAF, last fall.

Maj. Gen. Chad Franks received the guidon from Holmes, assuming responsibility for leading the more than 45,000 Airmen assigned to the new NAF.

“When I took command of 9th Air Force in June 2019, I stated we would focus on getting even better, so we could continue to deliver unmatched lethal fires for our joint and coalition partners wherever it is required,” Franks said. “Through our joint task force-capable mission and the advocacy for our units, we have done that. As 15th Air Force, we will continue to progress further toward that vision and provide a lean and agile mission command and control of forces to enable us to protect, deter, and deploy against emerging threats. Thank you for allowing me the great honor to be the commander of 15th Air Force and I look forward to visiting all of the units in the near future.”

Fifteenth Air Force was first established in 1943 as the Mediterranean theater’s air force. After World War II, it served as one of the primary numbered air forces in Strategic Air Command deterring Cold War Soviet aggression before transferring to Air Mobility Command in 1992 as an expeditionary task force.

No units will be physically moving and the majority of affected Airmen will not experience changes in their day-to-day operations.

Bases with units falling under the new 15th Air Force include:

Creech Air Force Base, Nev. (432nd Wing)
Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz. (355th Wing)
Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho (366th Fighter Wing)
Tinker Air Force Base, Okla. (552nd Air Control Wing)
Hill Air Force Base, Utah (388th Fighter Wing)
Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va. (1st Fighter Wing)
Robins Air Force Base, Ga. (461st Air Control Wing)
Shaw Air Force Base, S.C. (20th Fighter Wing)
Moody Air Force Base, Ga. (23rd Wing)
Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. (800th Red Horse)
Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C. (4th Fighter Wing)
Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla. (325th Fighter Wing)

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