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20th Air Force

20th Air Force

FE Warren 20th Air Force

The 20th Air Force’s mission is: Prepare the Nation’s ICBM force to execute safe, secure, and effective nuclear strike operations and support worldwide COCOM requirements.

The 20th Air Force has a proud heritage as America’s long-range strategic force. Activated April 4, 1944, the unit’s B-29 Superfortresses bombed the Japanese islands. 20th Air Force bombers, the Enola Gay and Bock’s Car, brought an early end to World War II after they dropped the first atomic bombs on Japan. 20th Air Force units also supported United Nations’ forces during the Korean War.

Inactivated March 1, 1955, the unit was reactivated Sept. 1, 1991, as a component of Strategic Air Command and was located at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California. Operationally responsible for all land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles, the 20th Air Force’s was reborn at a time when America’s nuclear forces were entering a decade of unprecedented force reductions and changes. Spawned by the Cold War’s end and the breakup of the Soviet Union, these changes reshaped the basic fabric of the nation’s nuclear deterrent forces. For the men and women of America’s ICBM team, it proved to be a period of sustained, dramatic change. In the short years since its rebirth, the 20th Air Force experienced three major command identities. After one year in Strategic Air Command and another year in Air Combat Command, the 20th Air Force found a home in Air Force Space Command in 1993, moving its headquarters from Vandenberg AFB, California, to its current home at F.E. Warren. Under the auspices of the Global Strike Command, established in 2009, the 20th Air Force remains at F.E. Warren as a bastion of the Air Force’s commitment to its nuclear mission.

ICBM force structure was reduced radically as well since the 1990s and early 21st century, going from six wings to three, and from 1,000 alert ICBMS to 500. These reductions posed major leadership challenges for Airmen at all levels of command. In the last few years, the Air Force reduced the force by another 50 ICBMs, leaving the nation with 450 alert ICBMs in the inventory.

The 20th Air Force headquarters is unique in that it has dual responsibilities to Air Force Global Strike Command and United States Strategic Command. As the missile Numbered Air Force for AFGSC, the 20th Air Force is responsible for maintaining, operating and securing the Air Force’s ICBM force. Designated as United States Strategic Command’s Task Force 214, the 20th Air Force provides on-alert, combat-ready ICBMs to the president of the United States.

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