In the days after World War II the United States Air Force grew explosively, as the benefits of aerial warfare action had been demonstrative conclusively on the part of all combatants. The attack on Pearl Harbor, the Battle of Midway, along with numerous other wartime aerial battles convinced the leadership of the need for an American Air Force, and it was made into its own separate service.
The equipment that made up the first Air Force Inventory included the C-47 Skytrain, the B-29 Superfortress, the B-17 flying fortress, and P-51 Mustangs. With the human resources and equipment the Air Force reached a level of nearly a half million personnel at the time of their inception in 1947. With the new designation of the fifth Armed Service in the United States the Air Force moved into the new era as the premier aerial force for the United States. The first secretary of the Air Force was named in 1947, Mr. Stuart Symington was named.
While the need for a active duty American Air Force had been proven, after a short while the bean counters in Washington D.C. and the halls of government decided that the Air Force would not be spared the defense cuts which occurred after World War II. The number of aircraft and personnel began to be trimmed back, and a slow decline occurred for a number of years, until the aggressive posture that began to be taken by the Soviet Union. As the Soviets began to mobilize and take over different satellite nations near its borders, America and the American people began to fear overall aggressive action by Communism, and the communist nation of the Soviet Union. Because of the single fact that the Soviets eventually obtained nuclear weapons, the Strategic Air Command was created to protect and serve the American People. President Eisenhower was a hawk, and during the 1950s he devised and helped make sure that the Air Force, and the Strategic Air Command, were placed firmly to defend, and if necessary provide a first strike capability, even a nuclear one.
President Eisenhower was known to use the term “Massive retaliation,” when speaking of the ability and power of the early U.S. Air Force, and the Strategic Air Command, but he also was blunt that if it became necessary to use force on a first strike capacity, that it would fall to long range United States Air Force Bombers to carry out the ability for America to defend itself.