The termination of the requirement for the United States Air Force to keep nuclear forces on constant alert status meant a change in focus for the Air Force. Even with the reduction of nuclear force deterrent necessary it didn’t lessen the responsibility of the Air Force for the defense of the United States. The Air Force maintains lethality, range, speed, precision and inherent flexibility. This ability gives the United States both a responsibility for global power, and global reach. The United States Air Force maintains an arsenal of sophisticated weapons, and expert well-trained personnel.
When Saddam Hussein invaded the nearby country of Kuwait in August 1990, the Air Force sprang to the aid of our country, and engaged in the most lopsided aerial battle in our history. The Air Force lived up to its reputation during Operation Desert Storm, which occurred in early 1991. Using equipment and advanced technology, the Air Force created an overwhelming strike force that was used against Saddam Hussein in support of the American ground forces.
Using aircraft such as the stealth Nighthawk F-117 the Air Force swiftly delivered. The Gulf War and Operation Dessert Storm was one of the first times that advanced satellite use and precision-guided munitions were employed against U.S. States enemies. The weapons were delivered using navigation and sophisticated information systems. Lieutenant General Charles A. Homer directed a six-week air campaign, and its usage neutralized Iraq and its entire command structure. With the overwhelming air power the Air Force supported the coalition ground forces, and the nation of Kuwait was liberated swiftly and with little loss of life. The amount of actual casualties in the entire Operation Desert Storm were less than suffered in a typical 7 day period during the Vietnam War.
The Air Force began to streamline during the 1990’s, and began to consolidate into a lean, more efficient organization. It went from 13 commands to 8 major commands. Replacing the Military Airlift Command, Tactical Air and Strategic Air Commands were the Air Mobility and Air Combat commands, making it a lean efficient fighting service.
The Air Force dropped from nearly 600,000 personnel in the late 1980’s to a lean 388,000 personnel in 1996. With further budget constraints this year, the Air Force will be reducing a little further, to 317,000 personnel by 2009.