Creech Air Force Base
Indian Springs Air Force Auxiliary Field
The Air Force approved renaming Indian Springs Air Force Auxiliary Airfield to Creech Air Force Base in honor of General W.L. "Bill" Creech. General Creech revolutionized the Air Force by advocating a philosophy of decentralized authority and responsibility, and shaped today's Air Force through his leadership as the commander of Tactical Air Command. No single officer has had greater influence on the Air Force in recent times than General Bill Creech. He transformed the way the Air Force conducts warfare. He was a war hero of Korea and Vietnam who improved the tactics that have led to successes in the Persian Gulf, Afghanistan, Kosovo, and Iraq.
Creech Air Force Base, Nev., is the home to the famed "Hunters" of the 432d Wing and 432d Air Expeditionary Wing. The base also hosts the operations of the 556th Test and Evaluation Squadron and 99th Ground Combat Training Squadron, and those of the Air Force Reserve's 78th Reconnaissance Squadron, 91st RS, and Nevada Air National Guard's 232nd Operations Squadron.
The airfield, originally built by the Army in the early 1940s to support the war effort, was renamed for the nearby community of Indian Springs, Nev. in 1964. It is currently home to the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Battle Lab, 11th Reconnaissance Squadron, and Silver Flag Alpha. A ceremony officially renaming the airfield took place on 20 June 2005 at Creech Air Force Base.
The 99th Range Squadron commands two detachments: Indian Springs Air Force Auxiliary Field, which manages Nellis' Southern Ranges, and Tonopah Test Range Airfield, which manages Nellis' Northern Ranges. The 2,300 acre Indian Springs Auxiliary Field is near Nye County' s eastern boundary with Clark County.
The 11th and 15th reconnaissance squadrons, Indian Springs Air Force Auxiliary Field, Nev., currently operate the RQ-1A/B. The Predator system was designed in response to a Department of Defense requirement to provide persistent intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance information to the warfighter. It was the first successful advanced concept technology demonstration to transition to production and fielding. This is a new acquisition process designed to reduce costs and development time by relying on commercial off-the-shelf technology to the maximum extent possible. In April 1996, the Secretary of Defense selected the U. S. Air Force as the operating service for the RQ-1A Predator system. The 11th RS received its first two Predator UAVs in November 1996.
The Army Corps of Engineers Albuquerque District used the "One Door to the Corps" concept by partnering with Sacramento and Los Angeles districts for work a Indian Springs Air Force Auxiliary Air Field. The design work was "brokered" to Albuquerque after Sacramento completed about 35 percent of the design. Albuquerque completed the design and advertised the project; Sacramento District provided technical review and support; and Los Angeles District furnished project management, opened bids, and will award and administer the contract. It was the first time in South Pacific Division history that the talents of three districts came together on a single project. Indian Springs encompassed $15.6 million in design work to support the "beddown" of 44 as Medium Altitude Endurance (MAE) Unmanned Aerial Vehicles. UAV are robot aircraft used to scout over a variety of terrain. ACC is using Indian Springs, which is serviced by Nellis Air Force Base, to locate the aircraft.
More than 100 Air Combat Command security forces people begin Contending Warrior '97 on 02 August 1997 at Indian Springs Air Force Auxiliary Field. The annual competition, held since the command stood up in 1992, challenges competitors from ACC bases in three major areas: physical fitness, force protection and weapons capability. The event encourages base competition and practice aimed at developing and improving combat, marksmanship, tactical and professional skills. It also provides a means for evaluating home station training in support of routine and contingency operations. Participants' physical fitness is put to the test during an obstacle course consisting of confidence and maneuverability challenges. The force protection part of the competition challenges team members' abilities to apply combat tactics skills in realistic scenarios, similar to those they would experience in a real-world environment. The weapons competition involves participants shooting the 9 mm handgun, M-16 rifle, M-60 machine gun and M-203 grenade launcher. At the conclusion of the six-day competition, nine participants -- eight primary and one alternate -- are selected to represent ACC at Peacekeeper Challenge, the world-wide security forces competition at Kirtland Air Force Base, NM.
Located two and one-half miles west of Indian Springs U.S. Air Force Auxiliary Field, the Nellis Air Force Range Area F has a variety of terrain features. The features range from valley floors on the north and south side to a mountain range extending east to west. The southern edge of the range runs parallel with U.S. Highway 95 for approximately 14 miles. Access to the area is difficult because the U.S. Air Force owns a half mile strip of land between the area and the former range. This area is fenced the entire length of the strip. The northern border of the area is along the still active Nellis Air Force range and the western side borders Department of Energy property.
The Nellis Air Force Range, Area F, was part of a much larger range complex first established in 1942. At its peak, the U.S. Air Force controlled more than 4,735,922 acres. Between its inception and 1976, the USAF. disposed of 1,644,026.56 acres. Area F is a portion of this land accounting for 47,481.50 acres. While the Nellis AF Range complex was used extensively for training pilots and aircrews in aerial bombing and gunnery, air-to-air combat, air-to-ground, weapons testing, tactical navigation, aerial maneuvers, and simulated electronic threat training, no target area or ordnance-related usage was located within Area F. The northeast corner of the area is within airspace of a designated close air support range two and one half miles north of Area F. In 1976, the USAF relinquished primary control of what is now Area F to the Department of Interior, Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. This land is now part of the Desert National Wildlife Reserve.The base was established in the aftermath of the devastating Dec. 7, 1941, aerial attack on Pearl Harbor, a horrific event that thrust America and a newly organized U.S. Army Air Forces into World War II. Initially a "tent city" military training camp, in March 1942, efforts began to construct more permanent fixed facilities. In the seven decades since, the installation's tradition and missions have continued to focus on answering the first call to duty - preparing Airmen for direct combat and support in an unwavering service to the nation. Built one mile northwest of the community of Indian Springs, Nev., and about 35 miles northwest of Las Vegas, the camp was named the Indian Springs Airport. The Army had contracted for regular facilities by the end of 1942, and by February 1943, the camp was used as a divert field and as a base for air-to-air gunnery training. Supporting B-17s and T-6s until March 1946, the base went into stand-by status with maintenance by a small housekeeping staff. As part of the post-war drawdown, both Indian Springs Airport and Las Vegas Army Air Field (now Nellis AFB) were inactivated in January 1947. Along with Las Vegas AAF, Indian Springs Airport reopened in January 1948 following the birth of an independent Air Force and the onset of the Cold War. Assigned to Air Training Command, the field was subsequently redesignated Indian Springs AFB and gained its first permanently assigned Air Force unit in 1950. A renewal of airpower innovation and tactics in the service during the Korean War left its mark on the base. Made into an auxiliary field in August 1951, the base transferred to the Air Research and Development Command in July 1952, and realigned under the Air Force Special Weapons Center in Albuquerque, N.M. After the 3600th Air Demonstration Team "Thunderbirds" moved to Nellis AFB in June 1956, the Indian Springs airfield became their primary air demonstration practice site. In 1961, control of the installation at Indian Springs shifted to Tactical Air Command. The base's myriad of roles throughout the 20th century belied its size and resources. A successive string of host and tenant organizations, ranging from groups to detachments, provided support to on- and off-site missions. Critical but little known responsibilities included support to the Continental Nuclear Test Program and service as a key staging base for the delivery of testing materials to the Soviet Union for joint verification tests. The base's proximity to such remote but essential locations led to the arrival of its most distinguished visitor on December 8, 1962, as President John F. Kennedy arrived at Indian Springs AFB before proceeding by helicopter to the Nevada Test Site for an inspection of those facilities. During this era the base had two enduring and well known roles. It provided range maintenance for sections of the huge Ne llis Test and Training Range. Concurrently, it served as a recurring host base for deployments by Airmen and aviators from all the services in search of realistic, less constrained field training. Despite these vital and persistent contributions to critical missions and the development of air superiority, the base acquired no singular operational mission of its own. A detachment of UH-1n helicopters in the 1970s and 1980s constituted the only aircraft unit assigned to the installation. With no fanfare, the Air Force officially redesignated the base from Indian Springs AFB to Indian Springs Air Force Auxiliary Field. Following the inactivation of Tactical Air Command in 1992, Indian Springs AFAF fell under the new Air Combat Command. A new era began on December 13, 1996, with the first flight of the RQ-1 Predator remotely piloted aircraft at the airfield. In a defining moment of history, on the Nellis AFB Range, the Predator conducted the first successful firing of an AGM-114 Hellfire missile in February 2001. This transformation of a reconnaissance platform into an offensive weapon would, in a few short years, transform Indian Springs from a center of support to a center of operations reaching far beyond the horizons of the Nevada desert. On June 20, 2005, with the transfer of the remotely piloted aviation mission to Indian Springs growing rapidly, the U.S. Air Force redesignated Indian Springs AFAF as Creech AFB in honor of Gen. Wilbur L. Creech. Naming the installation for Gen. Creech, commander of Tactical Air Command from 1978 to 1984, and a veteran of more than 275 combat missions in Korea and Vietnam, was all the more fitting given his unofficial title as the "father of the Thunderbirds." A fearless pioneer, and commander of the Skyblazers Aerial Demonstration team that preceded the Thunderbirds, Gen. Creech became a Thunderbird pilot and senior mentor. The shifting of a global remotely piloted aviation mission to Creech AFB, to include aircrew training and the supporting, directing and coordination of combat sorties halfway across the world, continues to the present. On March 13, 2007, the arrival of the first MQ-9 Reaper at Creech marked another milestone in the base's growing fleet of remotely piloted aircraft. The U.S. Air Force provided for direct leadership of these missions on May 1, 2007, with the activation of the 432nd Wing at Creech. Activation of the 432nd Air Expeditionary Wing at Creech on May 15, 2008 formally recognized the full spectrum of these operations. Today, Creech AFB continues to engage in daily overseas contingency operations as the home base of remotely piloted aircraft systems which fly missions across the globe, as well as serve as the aerial demonstration training site of the Air Force's Thunderbirds.