Fourth Air Force
Fourth Air Force is one of three numbered air forces assigned to the Air Force Reserve Command located at Robins Air Force Base, GA. If called to active duty, most of Fourth Air Force's ready reserve units would be assigned to Air Mobility Command. Forces would also be gained to Air Force Materiel Command, Air Education and Training Command, and Pacific Air Force.
On December 18, 1940, the Army Air Forces activated the Southwest Air District at March Field, CA. The District's primary mission was to provide air defense of a region that included California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, and Oklahoma. By virtue of its location, Southwest Air District also dispatched air units to American outposts across the Pacific Ocean. Soon redesignated 4th Air Force (and later Fourth Air Force), the new organization expanded its mission to include tactical training, while it also oversaw the construction of new training and operational bases throughout its area of responsibility.
During World War II, Fourth Air Force's air defense mission gradually lost importance as the command focused more on training units for service in the Pacific. At the end of the war, Fourth Air Force organizations became separation processing centers, handling thousands of personnel returning from service overseas and preparing for their release from the military. The headquarters inactivated units, closed bases, and disposed of surplus aircraft and equipment.
After the war, Fourth Air Force assumed responsibility for the air defense of the west coast and the southwest. In addition, it added the job of training Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard personnel throughout the region. By 1949, the air defense mission transferred to other organizations, leaving Fourth free to focus on its reserve training tasks, which it did for the next decade. On September 1, 1960, the Air Force inactivated Fourth Air Force, transferring its missions to the Sixth Air Force Reserve Region.
Fourth Air Force activated again on January 20, 1966, as part of Air Defense Command. It again assumed responsibility for the air defense of the West Coast and parts of the Southwest. On September 30, 1969, the Air Force inactivated Fourth Air Force again. The command remained inactive until October 8, 1976, when it was activated as Fourth Air Force (Reserve) at McClellan Air Force Base, CA, and assigned to the Air Force Reserve. Fourth Air Force has been a key component of the Air Force reserve ever since.
Fourth Air Force personnel have been involved in every major American military operation since 1976. They supported operations in Grenada (Operation Urgent Fury) and Panama (Operation Just Cause). More than 8,000 Air Force Reservists assigned to Fourth Air Force units served in the United States, Europe, and the Persian Gulf during Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm. This included more than 2,878 medical personnel assigned to Fourth Air Force units. They have also supported humanitarian missions such as Provide Promise in the Balkans and Provide Relief and Restore Hope in Somalia. Units for the 4th Air Force rushed to provide aid and rescue service to the residents of Florida, the Gulf Coast, and the Caribbean in the aftermath of the traumatic and prolonged 1995 hurricane season. We supported immediate assistance to aid victims and disaster officials following the bombing of the Oklahoma City Federal Building. Fourth Air Force units provided assistance for several natural disasters, including the Northridge (Los Angeles) earthquake in 1994, and the catastrophic midwest floods and the California wildfires in 1993. Fourth Air Force units routinely support United Nations and Department of State missions. Fourth Air Force people were on the first teams into Haiti for Operation Uphold Democracy, and supported Vigilant Warrior and Desert Thunder deployments to Southwest Asia. The men and women of Fourth Air Force continue to perform international peacekeeping and humanitarian missions on an almost daily basis.
Headquarters Fourth Air Force officially returned to its original home, now March Air Reserve Base, in Riverside, CA, in April, 1998.
As of late 2000, more than 1,000 personnel from Fourth Air Force units had been called to active duty to support the crisis in Kosovo. Hundreds of others were supporting Operation Allied Force in volunteer status.
The staffs of Fourth Air Force are dedicated to ensuring their units and personnel are fully prepared to accomplish all assigned missions in support of national objectives. The 200+ staff consists of air reserve technicians, civilian employees, and traditional reservists. They direct the activities and supervise the equipping and training of more than 23,000 Air Force reservists in unit programs located across the continental United States, Alaska, Hawaii and Guam.
Fourth Air Force flying units include one unit-equipped air mobility and two unit- equipped airlift wings, five unit-equipped air refueling wings, one associate air mobility wing, two associate airlift wings and one associate air refueling group.
The 452nd Air Mobility Wing (AMW) at March Air Reserve Base, CA, is equipped with both C-141B Starlifters and KC-135E Strato-tankers. One of Fourth Air Force's unit-equipped airlift wings, the 433rd AW at Kelly Air Force Base, TX, operates the giant C-5 Galaxy while its second unit-equipped flying wing, the 445th AW at Wright-Patterson AFB, OH, operates C-141 Starlifters. The air refueling wings flying the KC-135 tanker include: the 940th Air Refueling Wing, Beale Air Force Base, CA; the 916th ARW at Seymour Johnson AFB, NC; the 927th ARW at Selfridge Air National Guard Base, MI; the 434th ARW at Grissom AFB, IN; the 507th Air Refueling Wing, Tinker Air Force Base, OK; and the 931st Air Refueling Group, McConnell Air Force Base, KS (Associate). The 931st ARG has been realigned and falls under the command and control of the 507th Air Refueling Wing. Other associate flying units are the 349th Air Mobility Wing at Travis Air Force Base, CA, the 446th Airlift Wing at McChord Air Force Base, WA, and the 932nd Airlift Wing at Scott Air Force Base, IL. Reservists assigned to these units fly and maintain Air Mobility Command aircraft with their active duty counterparts. The Travis wing operates C-5 Galaxies and KC-10 Extenders. The McChord wing flies the C-141B and the Scott wing operates the C-9 Nightingale aeromedical airlifter.
In addition to nationwide flying units, Fourth Air Force commands numerous support units representing a broad spectrum of Air Force specialties such as aircraft maintenance, logistics, and aerial ports. Fourth Air Force oversees regional medical headquarters that train to deploy with medical center personnel to establish contingency hospitals. Other units specialize in security forces, civil engineers, aeromedical evacuation, medical services and patient staging, communications, airlift control, and basic military training.
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