Keesler AFB, MS

Second Air Force

Second Air Force is an intermediate echelon numbered air force of the United States Air Force Air Education and Training Command. It is headquartered at Keesler AFB, Mississippi.


Second Air Force, is responsible for conducting basic military and technical training for Air Force enlisted members and support officers. The first stop for all Air Force, Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve enlisted people is basic military training (BMT) at Lackland AFB, Texas.

After completing BMT, airmen begin technical training in their career field specialties, primarily at five installations: Goodfellow, Lackland, and Sheppard Air Force bases in TX; Keesler AFB, MS; and Vandenberg AFB, CA. Each base is responsible for a specific portion of formal technical training airmen require to accomplish the Air Force mission. Highly trained instructors conduct technical training in specialties such as aircraft maintenance, civil engineering, medical services, computer systems, security forces, air traffic control, personnel, intelligence, fire fighting, and space and missile operations.

Commissioned officers attend technical training courses for similar career fields at the same locations.


Wings under Second Air Force are:

  • 37th Training Wing Lackland Air Force Base Texas
    Provides Basic Military Training to Air Force recruits as well as technical training in logistics and security police/law enforcement career fields.
  • 81st Training Wing Keesler Air Force Base Mississippi
    Provides training in Aviation Resource Management, weather, basic electronics, communications electronic systems, communications computer systems, air traffic control, airfield management, command post, air weapons control, precision measurement, education and training, financial management and comptroller, information management, manpower and personnel.
  • 17th Training Wing Goodfellow Air Force Base Texas
    Provides training in intelligence and firefighting career fields. Also provides training to Army, Navy and Marine detachments.
  • 82d Training Wing Sheppard Air Force Base Texas
    Provides specialized technical training, medical, and field training for officers, Airmen, and civilians of all branches of the military, other DoD agencies, and foreign nationals.
  • 381st Training Group Vandenberg AFB, California
    Provides qualification training for intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM), space surveillance, missile warning, spacelift, and satellite command and control operators. It also performs initial and advanced maintenance training on air launched missiles (ALM) and ICBM's. It conducts training in joint space fundamentals and associated computer maintenance. The group also conducts qualification and orientation training for Air Force Space Command (AFSPC) staff and senior-level personnel, as well as instructor enhancement in support of operational units.

In 2006 Second Air Force was assigned responsibility for coordinating training for "In Lieu Of" (ILO) forces, that is airmen assigned to perform traditional US Army duties in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Horn of Africa. An Expeditionary Mission Support Group was formed to provide command and control of ILO airmen as they are trained at 18 US Army installations across the United States prior to deploying to their assigned AOR. This group has been officially named the 602nd Training Group, Provisional (602 TRG(P)).

In 2007, Second Air Force was given responsibility to provide curricula and advice to the Iraqi Air Force as it stands up its own technical training and branch specific basic training among others. This mission is known as "CAFTT" for Coalition Air Forces Technical Training.



  • Established as Northwest Air District on 19 Oct 1940

Activated on 18 Dec 1940
Redesignated: 2 Air Force on 26 Mar 1941
Redesignated: Second Air Force on 18 Sep 1942
Inactivated on 30 Mar 1946

  • Activated on 6 Jun 1946

Inactivated on 1 Jul 1948

  • Activated on 1 Nov 1949

Inactivated on 1 Jan 1975

  • Activated on 1 Sep 1991

Inactivated on 1 Jul 1993

  • Activated on 1 Jul 1993.


  • General Headquarters Air Force

(later, Air Force Combat Command) 18 Dec 1940
Western Defense Command, 11 Dec 1941
Air Force Combat Command
(later, United States Army Air Forces), 5 Jan 1942

(later, Strategic Air Command), 13 Dec 1944-30 Mar 1946




  • I Bomber: 1 May-6 Oct 1943

Redesignated: XX Bomber: 20 Nov 1943-29 Jun 1944
472d Bombardment Group, 1 Sep 1943 - 1 Apr 1944

  • 2 Air Force Service (later, 2 Air Force Base): 1 Oct 1941-20 May 1942.
  • 2 Air Support (later, 2 Ground Air Support; II Air Support): 1 Sep 1941-25 Jan 1943

5th Bombardment Wing

  • 2 Bomber (later, II Bomber): 5 Sep 1941-6 Oct 1943.
  • 4 Air Support (later, IV Air Support): 12 Aug 1942-21 Jan 1943.
  • XXI Bomber: 1 Mar 1944-9 Nov 1944
  • XXII Bomber: 14 Aug 1944-13 Feb 1945


14 Mar 1951-1 Jul 1952
1 Jul 1952-1 Apr 1957
1 Jul 1959-1 Jan 1975

1 Apr 1955-1 Jul 1957
15 Jul 1959-2 Jul 1969
1 Jan 1970-1 Jan 1975


18 Dec 1940 - 1 Sep 1941
23 Jun 1942 - 8 Apr 1946

Operational History

World War II

During World War II Second Air Force initially provided air defense for the northwest Pacific Ocean coastline of the United States (1940-1941) and flew antisubmarine patrols along coastal areas from after Pearl Harbor until October 1942. In addition, the command performed training through Army Air Forces Training Command of units, crews, and individuals for bombardment, fighter, and reconnaissance operations.

After October 1942, the antisubmarine patrols were turned over to the Coast Guard and other agencies and the command was engaged primarily in training replacements for combat units.

A football team made up of Second Air Force personnel defeated Hardin-Simmons University in the 1943 Sun Bowl.

In 1944, the majority of the Numbered Air Forces of the USAAF were fighting in various parts of the world, such as the Eighth Air Force in Europe and the Twentieth Air Force in the Pacific. They were supported by four numbered air forces located within the United States (known as the Zone of the Interior, or "ZI".) On 13 December 1944, First, Second, Third and Fourth Air Force were all were placed under the unified command of the Continental Air Forces, the predecessor of the later established Strategic Air Command, Tactical Air Command, and Air Defense Command, which were all established in 1946.

With the war's end, Second Air Force was inactivated on 30 March 1946.

Postwar Era

The command was reactivated on 6 June 1946 under Air Defense Command. It assumed responsibility for the air defense of certain portions of the continental United States until Jul 1948 controlling several B-29 Superfortress bomb groups (73d, 96th Bomb Wings) and C-46 Commando troop carrier groups (322d Troop Carrier Wing). It is unclear how many of these units were actually manned or equipped. It was again inactivated on 1 July 1948.

Strategic Air Command

During the Cold War, Second Air Force became the third strategic air force of Strategic Air Command (SAC), being sctivated on 1 November 1949 at Barksdale AFB, Louisiana.

The initial organization of Second Air Force as part of SAC was:

305th Bombardment Wing (MacDill) (B-29)
306th Bombardment Wing (MacDill) (B-47A)
(Initial B-47 Stratojet Operational Training Unit - Not on Operational Alert)
307th Bombardment Wing (MacDill) (B-29)
Detached for Korean War combat service with Far East Air Force, Kadena AB, Okinawa

31st Fighter Escort Wing (Turner) (F-84)
108th Fighter Wing (Turner) (F-47D)
Federalized New Jersey Air National Guard wing

With the end of fighting in Korea, President Eisenhower, who had taken office in January 1953, called for a "new look" at national defense. The result: a greater reliance on nuclear weapons and air power to deter war. His administration chose to invest in the Air Force, especially Strategic Air Command. The nuclear arms race shifted into high gear. The Air Force retired nearly all of its propeller-driven bombers and they were replaced by new Boeing B-47 Stratojet medium jet bombers. By 1955 the Boeing B-52 Stratofortress heavy bomber would be entering the inventory in substantial numbers and as a result, Second Air Force grew both in scope and in numbers.

Also after the Korean War, the history of Second Air Force becomes indistinguishable from that of Strategic Air Command. During the Cold War, Second Air Force aircraft and intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM)s stood nuclear alert, providing a deterrence against an attack on the United States by the Soviet Union. During the Vietnam War, squadrons of 2d Air Force B-52 Stratofortesses (B-52Ds mostly, some B-52Gs) were deployed to bases on Guam, Okinawa and Thailand conducting Arc Light strikes on communist forces. The organization was inactivated during the post Vietnam drawdown in 1975

With the end of the Cold War and the restructuring of Strategic Air Command, Second Air Force was reactivated and became the steward for reconnaissance and battlefield management assets from 1 Sep 1991 until 1 Jul 1993 when it was inactivated by Air Combat Command.

Air Education and Training Command

Second Air Force was reactivated and reassigned on 1 July 1993 to Keesler AFB, Mississippi. Its mission became conducting basic military and technical training for Air Force enlisted members and support officers at five major AETC training bases in the United States.


  • Maurer, Maurer (1983). Air Force Combat Units Of World War II. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0892010924.
  • Ravenstein, Charles A. (1984). Air Force Combat Wings Lineage and Honors Histories 1947-1977. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0912799129.
  • Rogers, Brian (2005). United States Air Force Unit Designations Since 1978. Hinkley, England: Midland Publications. ISBN 1-85780-197-0.

External links

Air Force News:
Air Force News:


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