UNITED24 - Make a charitable donation in support of Ukraine!


Thirteenth Air Force

On 28 September 2012, Headquarters, Thirteenth Air Force was inactivated at a ceremony at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam. The operational roles and responsibilities of Thirteenth Air Force were subsequently assumed by Pacific Air Forces, making the command an operational component MAJCOM headquarters (C-MAJCOM). The inactivation of Thirteenth Air Force was a part of an Air Force initiative calling for the inactivation of three numbered air forces and the consolidation of their duties to other units.

Thirteenth Air Force, nicknamed the Jungle Air Force, is responsible to Pacific Air Forces to plan, execute and control aerospace operations throughout the Southwest Pacific and Indian Ocean area of responsibility. Thirteenth Air Force provides the commander-in-chief, Pacific Command, a combat ready, deployable staff to direct joint coalition contingency operations, ensures assigned combat forces are effectively employed and logistically supported, and supports U.S. policies and interests by maintaining military-to-military relationships with regional partners. Thirteenth Air Force consists of several staff agencies. Primarily, the three main agencies are Geo Political, Judge Advocate, and Safety. Also under the 13th AF are the 497th Combat Training Squadron (497 CTS) located in Singapore and the 36th Air Base Wing (36 ABW) located at Andersen AFB, Guam.

Throughout the past 50 years, with its presence in the Pacific region, Thirteenth Air Force contributed to the U. S. victory, a victory won without a shot ever fired, in the Cold War. In June 1991, Mount Pinatubo buried Clark in volcanic ash and forced the closure of the base on Nov 26, Thirteenth Air Force relocated to Andersen and officially established its headquarters on Guam on December 2, 1991.

Thirteenth Air Force is headquartered at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam. Organizations assigned to Thirteenth Air Force include; the 36th Air Base Wing (36 ABW), the 613th Contingency Response Squadron (613 CRS), and the 497th Combat Training Squadron (497 CTS), Paya Labar, Singapore.

Several units to include the 613th Air Intelligence Flight (613 AIF), the 613th Air Operations Squadron (613 AOS), and 613th Air Support Squadron (613 ASUS) and 613th Air Communications Squadron (613 ACOMS) were inactivated in late 2000 to conform with numerous organizational changes within Headquarters Pacific Air Forces. At the same time, Thirteenth Air Force realigned these functions into directorates to conform to the standard Air Force forces (AFFOR) structure. These include A-1 (Personnel), A-2 (Intelligence), A-3/5 (Operations and Plans), A-4 (Logistics), and A-6 (Communications). Thirteenth Air Force is also responsible for Detachment 1, which prior to 2000 was Detachment 1 of the 613th Air Support Squadron (DET1/613 ASUS), Diego Garcia.

The 13th Air Force A4 Logistics Directorate is responsible for logistics planning and execution for all USAF activities in the 13th Air Force area of responsibility (AOR), encompassing the South Pacific Ocean, Indian Ocean, and contiguous land areas. Ensures USAF operational plans are logistically supportable, war readiness stocks are available and maintained in a serviceable condition, and plans and executes logistics support for USAF single-service, joint, and combined exercises in the region. Responsible for management of aircraft maintenance, munitions, supply, fuels, contracting, civil engineering, and transportation resources activities in the 13 AF AOR. Prepares and deploys logistics command and control personnel to participate in JCS-direct exercises throughout the PACOM region. Responsible for the Forward Operating Location (FOL) in Thailand which provides refueling support for the Joint Task Force Full Accounting (JTF-FA) and other contingencies/exercises. Provides joint contracting support for operations and exercises within Thailand, to include supporting JUSMAGTHAI.

Additionally, Det 1, 13th Air Force, is responsible for operating and maintaining a Southwest Asia contingency base on Diego Garcia in support of CINCCENTCOM OPLANs. Provides facilities, munitions, vehicles, Aerospace Ground Equipment, supplies and aviation fuel to sustain deployed bomber and tanker sortie operations.

The A4 Director is responsible to the Commander, 13th Air Force, for all theater logistics issues. In addition, the Directorate is the focal point for logistics in supprot of the combined AFFOR staff and reports directly to the AFFOR Commander within the 13 AF AOR. Relationships to Other US Organizations and Friendly Forces: Conducts Joint, Combined and USAF logistics planning with the two-tiered Combined/Joint Task Force supporting First Corps, Third Marine Expeditionary Force, and Seventh Fleet. Supports Commander Naval Forces Marianas and the US/Philippines Mutual Defense Board. There are 43 countries and 23 territories in the AOR. The following countries participate in annual combined exercises: Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand. Provides logistics oversight and support to the 36th Air Base Wing.

Like the Fifth Air Force, the Thirteenth Air Force has never been stationed in the United States; it is also one of the oldest, continuously active numbered air forces. Since World War II it has provided air defense in the Far East, primarily the Philippines, although it operated for a short period (1948-1949) in the Ryukyu Islands. Numerous Thirteenth Air Force organizations participated in Southeast Asia combat operations in the 1960s and 1970s.

Activated at New Caledonia in the Coral Sea on Jan 13, 1943, Thirteenth Air Force began operations as a small organization composed of numerous widely separated and independent units scattered throughout the Pacific. From 1943-1945, Thirteenth Air Force staged out of tropical jungles on more than 40 remote islands, thus earning the nickname the Jungle Air Force.

Initially charged with taking a defensive stand against advancing enemy forces, Thirteenth Air Force later took the offensive and traveled northeast from the Solomons to the Admiralty Islands, New Guinea, Morotai, and the Philippines. Jungle Air Force units have participated in five different operation areas and 13 campaigns, flying a variety of aircraft including the B-17 Flying Fortress, B-24 Liberator, B-25 Mitchell, B-26 Marauder, P-38 Lightning, P-39 Airacobra, P-40 Warhawk, P-61 Black Widow, C-46 Commando, C-47 Skytrain, and the L-5 Sentinel.

Thirteenth Air Force established its headquarters at Clark Field, Philippines, in January 1946. In May of that year, it moved to Fort William McKinley, Luzon. By August 1947, Thirteenth Air Force returned to Clark Field. In December 1948, the unit moved to Kadena, Okinawa, where it remained for only a few months before returning to Clark in May 1949.

During the Korean Conflict, Thirteenth Air Force units provided staging areas for people and equipment destined for the war zone. During the decade of peace that followed the war, the command concentrated on training and surveillance activities to maintain a high state of readiness for contingencies.

As the Vietnam War escalated during the late 1960s and early 1970s, Thirteenth Air Force again served as a staging base and logistics manager for units fighting in southeast Asia. As more American aircraft and people were poured into the war effort, combat units and facilities under Thirteenth Air Force in Thailand were increased. At its peak, Thirteenth Air Force was comprised of seven combat wings, nine major bases, 11 smaller installations and more than 31,000 military members. Aircraft flown included the F-111, F-4/Phantom II, A-7 fighters; C-130/Hercules gunships and tactical airlifters; OV-10/Broncos; and helicopters for rescue and other purposes.

In 1973, Thirteenth served as the host agency for Operation HOMECOMING - the repatriation of American POW's released by the Vietnamese. Two years later, the command served as host for thousnds of refugees fleeing communist armies in Southeast Asia, housing, feeding, and clothing more than 30,000 refugees and 1,565 orphans during Operations NEW LIFE and BABYLIFT. Thirteenth units were involved in the action when the crew of the cargo ship Mayaguez was rescued from its Cambodian captors in 1975.

With the build up and execution of Operations DESERT SHIELD and DESERT STORM, Thirteenth Air Force provided aircraft and support personnel were vital to the United Nations victory in the Middle East. Thirteenth Air Force assisted in the planning and execution of Operation DESERT STRIKE and is currently tasked as the Joint Task Force for Operation PACIFIC HAVEN (JTF-PH) - the mission to evacuate, process, and relocate Kurdish evacuees to the United States.

Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list

Page last modified: 03-10-2012 18:53:20 ZULU