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Air Force Reserve

Air Force Reserve. The U.S. Air Force Reserve was established on 14 April 1948. This and the activation of the Continental Air Command on 1 December 1948 to oversee the reserve unit program represented the air force's desire to achieve greater coherence in its federal reserve component program, which in various guises dated back to 1916.

Air Force Reservists first participated in combat in the Korean War. All 25 flying wings of the reserve, a total of 30,000 personnel, were mobilized, plus nearly 119,000 individual reservists. The Air Force Reserve emerged from its wartime service with significant program problems, and the air force spent the remainder of the 1950s rebuilding it. Key milestones included the establishment of the Air Reserve Personnel Center and the implementation of an Air Reserve Technician program, which established a full‐time cadre of civil servants who were also military personnel in Air Force Reserve units.

During the 1960s, the Air Force Reserve demonstrated its operational readiness and underwent further organizational changes. Reservists participated in numerous Cold War events, including the 1961–62 Berlin Crisis and the Korea and Vietnam mobilizations of 1968–69. The Department of Defense sought to merge reserve and National Guard components, but this was halted by Congress in the Reserve Forces Bill of Rights and Vitalization Act of 1967. The act also established the Office of Air Force Reserve as part of the Air Staff. On 1 August 1968, Headquarters Air Force Reserve replaced the Continental Air Command, and assumed responsibility for Air Force Reserve unit program.

By the 1970s, air force officials increasingly called upon the reserve to support a variety of national security objectives. With the establishment of the Total Force policy in 1973, reservist and Air National Guard personnel were trained to active duty operational readiness standards. More than 23,500 Air Force Reservists took part in the 1991 Persian Gulf War. Other post‐Cold war operations included participating in United Nations and NATO‐sponsored relief and peacekeeping missions in Africa and the Balkans.


Gerald T. Cantwell , The Air Force Reserve: From Flying Club to Total Force, 1996.

Kenneth C. Kan

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