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The Air Force was instrumental during Operation Desert Storm in early 1991. Deployed during Operation Desert Shield in August 1990, the Air Force helped win a vital battlefield victory of American military history. Today's relatively smaller Air Force has seen increased participation in contingency operations.
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Air Force Featured Article

TODAY'S AIR FORCE OF GLOBAL ENGAGEMENT

Today's Air Force's speed, range, precision, lethality and flexibility give America what Secretary of the Air Force Donald B. Rice called "global reach, global power."

In the 1990s, the Air Force underwent the most complete reorganization since its establishment. It consolidated from 13 to eight major commands (replacing the Strategic Air, Tactical Air and Military Airlift Commands with Air Combat and Air Mobility Commands) and eliminated various lower-echelon headquarters. The Air Force also inactivated many proud wings and squadrons, closed bases and downsized from more than 600,000 military personnel in the late 1980s to under 388,000 in 1996.

The Air Force was instrumental during Operation Desert Storm in early 1991. Deployed during Operation Desert Shield in August 1990, the Air Force helped win a vital battlefield victory of American military history. Aircraft such as the F 117 Nighthawk delivered precision-guided munitions with the help of sophisticated information and navigation systems, including those on space satellites. The intensive six-week air campaign defeated Iraq's air defenses, Iraq's command structure and its army. Air power allowed ground forces to liberate Kuwait and drive into Iraq with fewer casualties than those previously suffered by the United States in a typical week of the Vietnam War.

Today's relatively smaller Air Force has seen increased participation in contingency operations. In addition to maintaining units in the Persian Gulf area (Southern Watch) and Turkey (Provide Comfort), the Air Force has supported humanitarian and peacekeeping operations in places like Somalia (Restore Hope), Rwanda (Support Hope), Haiti (Uphold Democracy) and the Balkans (Provide Promise and Deny Flight).

As the pace of technological change moves ever faster, America's role in protecting against aggression and fostering world democracy is more global and more complex. With the Air Force's 50th anniversary comes long-range planning efforts; under the umbrella concept of Global Engagement, today's Air Force has a vision of people, technology and infrastructure adapting to ensure that the Air Force continues to evolve and become more effective than ever.


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