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US Forces Azores

In 2004, US Forces Azores was inactivated and its units realigned with US Air Forces in Europe. The 65th Air Base Wing remained the primary US military element at Lajes Field in the Azores, part of Portugal.

US Forces Azores (USFORAZ) at Lajes Field, Portugal was a subordinate unified command of US Joint Forces Command. It consisted of a small joint staff, the 65th Air Base Wing, and multiple tenant organizations such as the 729th Air Mobility Squadron, the Military Traffic Management Command Azores Detachment and the base's resident officer in charge of construction. Members of USFORAZ provided base and en route support for Department of Defense, allied nation and other aircraft transiting the installation. By the early 2000s, there were approximately 875 US military and 100 Department of Defense civilians assigned to the 65th Air Base Wing. The total US population, including dependants, was about 2,170. The Department of Defense employed approximately 930 Portuguese civilians at Lajes Field where USFORAZ was based.

An Air Force colonel serves jointly as US Forces Azores commander and as commander of the 65th Air Base Wing, Air Combat Command. In peacetime, a small joint staff composed of Army, Navy and Air Force personnel assisted the US Forces Azores commander, who was responsible for contingency planning. In wartime, the US Forces Azores commander assumed operational control of assigned US military forces. The command mission would be to support NATO forces in the area, to assist in local defense, if requested, and to protect and evacuate U.S. citizens from the Azores, Europe, Africa, Southwest Asia, or other areas of the world. Between 1953 and 2004, USFORAZ support most major operations in the US European Command and US Central Command areas of responsibility to some degree.

In 1953, the US Forces Azores Command was organized as subordinate unified command under the Command-in-Chief Atlantic. The 1605th Air Base Wing commander was assigned as Commander, US Forces Azores (COMUSFORAZ). A small staff of Navy, Army and Air Force personnel comprised the joint staff of USFORAZ. The command was responsible for contingency planning, and, as the local representative for the US Ambassador to Portugal, COMUSFORAZ was the liaison between the US and the Portuguese in the Azores. The command's mission was to support allied forces in the area, to assist in local defense, if requested, and to protect and evacuate U.S. citizens from the Azores, Europe, Africa, and Southwest Asia, or other areas of the world. COMUSFORAZ assumed operational control of all assigned U.S. military forces in the Azores region.

In January 1992, what had 1605th Military Airlift Support Wing, was replaced by the 65th Support Wing. The wing was subordinate within the USAF to the USAF Air Combat Command (ACC). US Forces Azores continued to report to what had US Atlantic Command (USACOM). In 1993, the 65th Support Wing was redesignated as the 65th Air Base Wing. In 1999, USACOM was redesignated as US Joint Forces Command (USJFCOM), to which USFORAZ remained assigned. The USAF's ACC, previously a part of USACOM, also became a part of USJFCOM. USFORAZ was realigned with US European Command in 2002 before it was inactivated in 2004.

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