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12TH AIR FORCE HISTORY

Posted 6/30/2010 Printable Fact Sheet
 
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Twelfth Air Force provisional origins are traced back to a series of mid-1942 Allied planners' meetings to develop a strategy for the North African invasion or "Operation TORCH."  Because this extensive operation required a new organization to provide enough manpower and equipment, 12th AF activation plans were prepared simultaneously with the invasion strategy.

On 20 August 1942, Twelfth Air Force activated at Bolling Field, Washington D.C.  On 23 September 1942, Brigadier General Jimmy Doolittle formally assumed 12th AF command with Colonel Hoyt S. Vandenberg as chief of staff.  Barely four months after it was conceived, 12th AF made its first contributions to World War II.  When the North Africa invasion D-Day arrived on 8 November 1942, 12th AF was ready to meet its assigned missions.

Later, Twelfth Air Force saw action in Sicily, Italy, and Southern France.  By VE Day, 12th AF had flown 430,681 sorties, dropped 217,156 tons of bombs, claimed destruction of 2,857 enemy aircraft, and lost 2,667 of its own aircraft.

When hostilities ended, Twelfth Air Force was inactivated at Florence, Italy, on 31 August 1945.  Twelfth Air Force was reactivated at March Field, Calif., on 17 May 1946, and assigned to Tactical Air Command with training responsibilities.  Following several assignments and inactivations in the late 1940s, 12th AF reactivated on 21 January 1951 at Wiesbaden, Germany, assigned to United States Air Forces in Europe.  Twelfth Air Force became the first USAFE unit to be committed to NATO.  Along with French and Canadian air units, 12th AF was part of the 4th Allied Tactical Air Forces charged with conducting NATO's Allied Air Forces Central Europe aerial mission.

On 1 January 1958, Twelfth Air Force relocated to Waco, Texas, and was assigned to Tactical Air Command.  During 10 years at Waco, its mission began to focus on training tactical air crews to a state of combat readiness capable of conducting joint air operations.  In September 1968, 12th AF moved to Bergstrom AFB in Austin, Texas.  During the war in Vietnam, the 12th AF was a primary source for tactical fighter, reconnaissance, and airlift forces in that theater.

In 1987, the Twelfth Air Force commander took on the United States Air Forces in Southern Command responsibility.  As such, the Lt. Gen. manages all Air Force personnel and assets in the United States Southern Command area of responsibility--Central and South America. During the 1989 Operation JUST CAUSE, for example, 12th AF (AFSOUTH) and other Air Force units deployed in support of U.S. forces, returning democracy to Panama.  In 1994, 12th AF (AFSOUTH) managed and orchestrated Operation UPHOLD DEMOCRACY's air operations, the mission to restore Haitian democracy while at the same time supporting US Southern Command's Operation SAFE HAVEN for Cuban refugees.

On 13 July 1993, Headquarters Twelfth Air Force (Air Forces Southern) officially moved from Bergstrom AFB to Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona.  Since then, 12th AF (AFSOUTH) personnel and units have participated in operations in many other parts of the world: SOUTHERN WATCH, PROVIDE COMFORT, DENY FLIGHT, PROVIDE PROMISE, RESTORE HOPE, and JOINT ENDEAVOR.  During Operations DESERT SHIELD and DESERT STORM, 12th AF (AFSOUTH) provided fighter and reconnaissance aircraft to support U.S. Central Command Air Forces.

Since the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks, Twelfth Air Force (Air Forces Southern) provisional has worked closely with Caribbean, Central, and South American countries in the Global War on Terrorism.  The command has supported efforts to stem the flow of illegal drugs into the U.S. and neighboring counties.  Twelfth Air Force (Air Forces Southern) provisional has also provided forces to Operations ENDURING FREEDOM in Afghanistan, IRAQI FREEDOM, and NOBLE GUARDIAN in the U.S.  Today, 12th AF (AFSOUTH) provisional directs 10 active-duty wings and one direct reporting unit, as well as 13 Twelfth Air Force gained wings and other units of the Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard.  With a history stretching over 60 years, 12th AF (AFSOUTH) provisional stands ready, today and always.







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