Skip to main content

Air Force Office of Special Investigations, United States

Air Force Office of Special Investigations, United States

The Air Force Office of Special Investigations (AFOSI) is the principal investigative service of the United States Air Force. Established in 1948, AFOSI is charged with investigating and preventing criminal activities by United States Air Force personnel, as well as by individuals outside the air force whose actions threaten the service's equipment, personnel, activities, or security. Its ranks, which numbered nearly 2,500 in 2002, include active-duty Air Force personnel, reservists, and civilians.

Then United States Secretary of the Air Force W. Stuart Symington formed AFOSI on August 1, 1948, as the result of recommendations by the United States Congress that the air force (created in 1947) consolidate its investigative activities. Symington patterned the new office after the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and appointed Special Agent Joseph Carroll, assistant to FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, as the first AFOSI chief. Symington and Carroll developed an investigative service designed to provide unbiased information and operate independent of top air force command. To this end, the AFOSI included civilian personnel from the beginning.

AFOSI is based on a fourfold mission, intended to protect the air force from dangers within and without. As stated by AFOSI itself, that mission is to (1) Detect and provide early warning of worldwide threats to the Air Force; (2) Identify and resolve crime impacting Air Force readiness or good order and discipline; (3) Combat threats to Air Force information systems and technologies; and (4) Defeat and deter fraud in the acquisition of Air Force prioritized weapons systems.

Fulfillment of the AFOSI mission. The majority of AFOSI activities are directed toward the fulfillment of the second directive listed above. Among the crimes addressed by AFOSI investigators are murder, robbery, rape, drug use and trafficking, black-market activities, and other unlawful acts committed by or against air force personnel. Economic crime, or fraud, is an area of investigation that places particularly large demands on AFOSI resources.

Additionally, the service is concerned with detecting and protecting against outside threats, activities that require investigation of espionage, terrorism, technology transfer, and computer infiltration. In line with the first directive in its mission, AFOSI personnel provide personal protection to senior air force leaders and other officials.

Within the ranks of AFOSI are also personnel with specialized missions and skills who fulfill functions ranging from that of polygrapher to computer expert to behavioral scientist. Other AFOSI agents operate within one of three antiterrorism teams, based at Lackland Air Force Base (AFB) in Texas; Ramstein AFB in Germany; and Hickham AFB in Hawaii.

Organization, personnel, and training. In addition to AFOSI headquarters, the organization has eight field investigation regions. Of these, seven are tied with major air force commands: materiel (Region 1), air combat (Region 2), air mobility (Region 3), air education and training (Region 4), United States Air Forces in Europe (Region 5), Pacific Air Forces (Region 6), and Air Force Space Command (Region8). In line with the original vision of AFOSI as an independent unit, these regions report to AFOSI headquarters and not to the relevant air force commanders. Finally, there is Region 7, which provides counterintelligence and security-program management under the direction of the Secretary of the Air Force.

As of 2002, AFOSI included more than 160 units worldwide. Its ranks numbered 2,475, with members drawn from active-duty Air Force personnel, reservists, and civilians. The vast majority1,890 personswere special agents bearing credentials at the federal level. Each year, the AFOSI, one of the most popular career-field choices in the United States Air Force, welcomed 230 new special agents drawn from active-duty officers and enlisted members, reservists, and civilians.

All members receive 11 weeks of training at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Glynco, Georgia, alongside trainees for other federal law enforcement services. They follow this with another six weeks of training specific to the AFOSI mission. After a one-year probationary period in the field, members typically receive additional training in their given specialties.

FURTHER READING:

BOOKS:

DOD Investigation Programs: Background Data. Washington, D.C.: United States General Accounting Office, 1989.

Wilson, William. Dictionary of the United States Intelligence Services: Over 1500 Terms, Programs, and Agencies. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 1996.

ELECTRONIC:

Air Force Office of Special Investigations. <http://www.dtic.mil/afosi/> (December 29, 2002).

SEE ALSO

Air Force Intelligence, United States

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Air Force Office of Special Investigations, United States." Encyclopedia of Espionage, Intelligence, and Security. . Encyclopedia.com. 13 Dec. 2018 <https://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Air Force Office of Special Investigations, United States." Encyclopedia of Espionage, Intelligence, and Security. . Encyclopedia.com. (December 13, 2018). https://www.encyclopedia.com/politics/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/air-force-office-special-investigations-united-states

"Air Force Office of Special Investigations, United States." Encyclopedia of Espionage, Intelligence, and Security. . Retrieved December 13, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/politics/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/air-force-office-special-investigations-united-states

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.