Commander, Air Group
, or CAG
, refers to the Commander of the Air Wing aboard an aircraft carrier
of the U.S. Navy
. The term traces its origins to 1938 when the first Carrier Air Group
was formed. Air Groups were redesignated as Carrier Air Wings
, or CVWs
in the 1970s, but the head of the air wing is still referred to as the CAG
. Initially, the CAG was the most senior commanding officer of the three embarked squadrons and was expected to personally lead all major strike operations, co-ordinating the attacks of the carrier's fighter, bomber, and torpedo planes in combat. The CAG then became a department head of the ship reporting to the carrier's commanding officer. In 1983, the Secretary of the Navy
, John Lehman
elevated the CAG to be coequal with the Captain of the ship with both officers reporting directly to the embarked Commander of the Carrier Battle Group
. The CAG was then referred to as a "Super CAG
" and a Deputy CAG
(or DCAG) position was added who "fleets up" to the CAG position. Aboard modern carriers, the CAG serves as a "warfare commander" usually performing duties from aboard ship, rather than in the air. Despite this reduction in flying time, a U.S. Navy CAG is typically qualified to fly at least two types of aircraft in the Carrier Air Wing inventory. Additionally, just as both the ship's CO (Commanding Officer) and XO (Executive Officer) are both holders of the US Navy rank of "captain" (paygrade O-6), the CAG and DCAG are both captains (O-6), as well.
On a Royal Navy aircraft carrier, the equivalent is the Commander (Air).
Usage in works of fiction
- In the Tom Clancy novel The Sum of All Fears, Robby Jackson serves as CAG of the carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt.
- In the re-imagined Battlestar Galactica television series, the officer in charge of a Battlestar's fighter wings and other auxiliary craft is referred to as the CAG, even though the craft in question fly (for the most part) in space rather than in a planetary atmosphere. For much of the series' run, the Battlestar Galactica's CAG had been Lee Adama until Season 3.
- In The Final Countdown, James Farentino's character of Commander Owens is CAG on the USS Nimitz.
- In the Stephen Coonts novel Final Flight, Jake Grafton is CAG of the USS United States.
- In David Weber's Honorverse novels, the position of CAG is known as COLAC (Commanding Officer, Light Attack Craft) in the Royal Manticoran Navy.
- In Wing Commander: Prophecy, Patricia Drake serves as the CAG of the TCS Midway.
- In the CBS television show JAG, created by Donald P. Bellisario, actor Terry O'Quinn was a recurring character known as "The CAG" (Admiral Thomas Boone).
- In the Starfire books, the position of CAG is known as CSF, "Commander, Strikefighters."
- In the Michener work The Bridges at Toko-ri, the CAG is a central character who joins the main character on attack missions.