United States Air Forces Africa (AFAFRICA)
Seventeenth Air Force
On 24 April 2012, Seventeenth Air Force, previously designated as the air component command for US Africa Command (AFRICOM), US Air Forces Africa (AFAFRICA), was inactivated. United States Air Forces in Europe (USAFE) was subsequently designated as the air component command for AFRICOM. This ended the complicated relationship that had previously existed where USAFE, an air component command, acted as the higher headquarters for Seventeenth Air Force/AFAFRICA, another air component command.
United States Air Forces Africa (AFAFRICA) is responsible for conducting Air Force, joint and combined air and space operations in the US Africa Command (AFRICOM) area of responsibility. To fulfill these responsibilities AFAFRICA employs a full spectrum of capabilities, to include intra-theater airlift assets. AFAFRICA oversees Air Force assets, one forward operating location, and civil and military engagements in the AFRICOM area of responsibility.
Headquarters, Seventeenth Air Force is located at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, and serves as the air and space component to AFRICOM located at Stuttgart, Germany. In this capacity, Seventeenth Air Force is referred to as United States Air Forces Africa.
Seventeenth Air Force houses the traditional A-staff and special staff functions, which are responsible for developing strategy and plans to execute air and space operations in support of AFRICOM objectives. In addition, Seventeenth Air Force houses the "tailored" 617th Air and Space Operations Center (AOC), which provides command and control capabilities for the planning and execution of aerial missions on the continent. Seventeenth Air Force also has a collaborative relationship with the 110th Air Operations Group, Michigan Air National Guard. However, as of 2010, Seventeenth Air Force had no direct subordinate units and relied on cooperative support with United States European Command, the United States Air Forces in Europe and the Air Force as a whole.
AFAFRICA conducts sustained security engagement and operations as directed to promote air safety, security and development on the African continent. Through its Theater Security Cooperation (TSC) events, AFAFRICA carries out AFRICOM's policy of seeking long-term partnership with the African Union and regional organizations as well as individual nations on the continent. AFAFRICA works with other US Government agencies, to include the State Department and the US Agency for International Development (USAID), to assist our African partners in developing national and regional security institution capabilities that promote security and stability and facilitate development. Through this interagency synergy, AFAFRICA is able to strengthen existing relationships and expand our network of partners on the continent.
The history of the Seventeenth Air Force dates to the establishment of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in 1949. This resulted in increased United States Air Forces in Europe's (USAFE) responsibilities and resulted in the designation and activation of Headquarters, Seventeenth Air Force on 25 April 1953 at Rabat, Morocco. The new numbered air force had a primary support mission for a geographic area of North Africa, Portugal, Austria, the Middle East, Pakistan, India, Ceylon and the Mediterranean Islands. Seventeenth Air Force was moved to Wheelus Air Base, Libya, on 1 August 1956 then was moved without personnel or equipment to Ramstein Air Base, West Germany, on 15 November 1959.
At Ramstein, Seventeenth Air Force exchanged its support mission in the southern region for the defensive and offensive air mission in central Europe. It was moved to Sembach Air Base, West Germany, in October 1972.
In the 1980s, Seventeenth Air Force saw the number of its subordinate units almost double. Its area of responsibility included 3 of the Ground Launched Cruise Missile (GLCM) sites in Europe. In 1985, for the first time ever, Seventeenth Air Force brought together all European-based electronic warfare aircraft under a single command when it activated the 65th Air Division and the 66th Electronic Wing at Sembach. All of these units were inactivated in the early 1990s and Headquarters, Seventeenth Air Force was inactivated at Sembach effective 30 September 1996.
Seventeenth Air Force was reactivated at Ramstein on 1 October 2008 to serve as the air component for the newly established combatant command, US Africa Command.
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