4The United States Air Force (USAF) is the aerial warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven American uniformed services. Initially part of the United States Army, the USAF was formed as a separate branch of the military on 18 September 1947 under the National Security Act of 1947. It is the most recent branch of the U.S. military to be formed, and is the largest and one of the world’s most technologically advanced air forces. The USAF articulates its core functions as Nuclear Deterrence Operations, Special Operations, Air Superiority, Global Integrated ISR, Space Superiority, Command and Control, Cyberspace Superiority, Personnel Recovery, Global Precision Attack, Building Partnerships, Rapid Global Mobility and Agile Combat Support.
The U.S. Air Force is a military service organized within the Department of the Air Force, one of the three military departments of the Department of Defense. The Air Force is headed by the civilian Secretary of the Air Force, who reports to the Secretary of Defense, and is appointed by the President with Senate confirmation. The highest-ranking military officer in the Department of the Air Force is the Chief of Staff of the Air Force, who exercises supervision over Air Force units, and serves as a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Air Force combat and mobility forces are assigned, as directed by the Secretary of Defense, to the Combatant Commanders, and neither the Secretary of the Air Force nor the Chief of Staff have operational command authority over them.
The U.S. War Department created the first antecedent of the U.S. Air Force in 1907, which through a succession of changes of organization, titles, and missions advanced toward eventual separation 40 years later. In World War II, almost 68,000 U.S airmen died helping to win the war; only the infantry suffered more enlisted casualties. In practice, the U.S. Army Air Forces (USAAF) was virtually independent of the Army during World War II, but officials wanted formal independence. The National Security Act of 1947 was signed on 26 July 1947 by President Harry S Truman, which established the Department of the Air Force, but it was not until 18 September 1947, when the first secretary of the Air Force, W. Stuart Symington, was sworn into office that the Air Force was officially formed.
The act created the National Military Establishment (renamed Department of Defense in 1949), which was composed of three subordinate Military Departments, namely the Department of the Army, the Department of the Navy, and the newly created Department of the Air Force. Prior to 1947, the responsibility for military aviation was shared between the Army (for land-based operations), the Navy (for sea-based operations from aircraft carriers and amphibious aircraft), and the Marine Corps (for close air support of infantry operations). The 1940s proved to be important in other ways as well. In 1947, Captain Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier in his X-1 rocket-powered aircraft, beginning a new era of aeronautics in America.
The predecessor organizations in the Army of today’s Air Force are:
Aeronautical Division, Signal Corps (1 August 1907 – 18 July 1914)
Aviation Section, Signal Corps (18 July 1914 – 20 May 1918)
Division of Military Aeronautics (20 May 1918 to 24 May 1918)
U.S. Army Air Service (24 May 1918 to 2 July 1926)
U.S. Army Air Corps (2 July 1926 to 20 June 1941) and
U.S. Army Air Forces (20 June 1941 to 18 September 1947)