U.S. Air Force
The U.S. Air Force (USAF) became an independent branch of the armed forces after World War II. Prior to that, the army and navy both had their own air corps. It was clear that the future of warfare would involve greater use of air power to shock and awe the enemy, so the National Security Act of 1947 created the Department of the Air Force, headed by a Secretary of the Air Force.
The mission of the USAF is to “deliver sovereign options for the defense of the United States of America and its global interests — to fly and fight in Air, Space, and Cyberspace.” To achieve its mission, the USAF has a vision of global vigilance, reach, and power. This vision revolves around three key points: developing airmen, developing the technology to fight wars, and integrating operations. These elements make the USAF's six distinctive capabilities possible:
Air and space superiority: With this, joint forces can dominate enemy operations in all dimensions — land, sea, air, and space.
Global attack: Because of technological advances, the USAF can attack anywhere, anytime — and do so quickly and with greater precision than ever before.
Rapid global mobility: Being able to respond quickly and decisively anywhere in the world is key to maintaining rapid global mobility.
Precision engagement: The essence of this element lies in the ability to apply selective force against specific targets. This is a critical capability, as the nature and variety of future contingencies demand both precise and reliable use of military power with minimal risk and collateral damage.
Information superiority: The ability of joint force commanders to keep pace with information and incorporate it into a campaign plan is crucial.
Agile combat support: Deployment and sustainment are keys to successful operations and cannot be separated. Agile combat support applies to all forces, from those permanently based to contingency buildups to expeditionary forces.
The USAF also places great emphasis on three core values: “integrity first, service before self, and excellence in all we do.”
The Department of the Air Force is headquartered in the Pentagon, in Washington, D.C. The service is organized in nine major commands throughout the world that provide combat aircraft, airlift, refueling, reconnaissance, and other support to the Unified Combatant Commands. The USAF also has more than three dozen field operating agencies and direct reporting units that directly support its mission by providing unique services.
Together with Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard forces, the USAF considers itself “the best in the world.”
The Air Force Personnel Center (AFPC), with headquarters at Randolph Air Force Base, Texas, is a field operating agency of Headquarters U.S. Air Force, the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel. The center has responsibility for managing personnel programs and carrying out policies affecting USAF active-duty and civilian members.
The AFPC mission statement is as follows: “The AFPC mission is to integrate and execute personnel operations to develop Air Force people and meet field commanders' requirements. AFPC supervises and directs the overall management and distribution of military officers, lieutenant colonel and below; enlisted, senior master sergeant and below; and civilian personnel at grades GS-15 (or equivalent) and below. AFPC also conducts military and civilian personnel operations to include overseeing performance evaluations, promotions, retirements, separations, awards, decorations, uniforms, education, personnel procurement, disability processing, and the Air Force's voting program. It plans for contingencies, maintains active-duty personnel records and provides transition assistance and support to Air Force retirees. AFPC serves as the single manager for the military and civilian personnel data systems covering active-duty, Reserve, Guard and civilian personnel under the Total Force Management Concept.”