The United States Air Force Reserve celebrates its birthday every year on April 14, but according to the Air Force official site, Air Force Reservists can trace their heritage all the way back to the National Defense Act of 1916.
Reservists in every branch are an important part of the Department of Defense’s strategy for manpower, global reach, and military flexibility. The Air Force Reserve has approximately 450 aircraft, with a great deal of additional aircraft options thanks to the practice of the “associate wing” organization that allows active duty and Reserve components to co-locate flying operations.
The Air Force Reserve is not specifically focused solely on flying missions. Reserve forces include (but are not limited to) medical, civil engineering, intel, space force-type operations, and security.
The Air Force Reserve was created on April 14, 1948 soon after the establishment of the Air Force as a separate branch of service. Before the creation of a separate Air Force, the Army Air Corps flew America’s combat missions, and that organization had its own Reservists. They were transferred wholesale to the Air Force.
1970 brought something called the Total Force Concept, which meant changes in the mission and use of the Air Force Reserve. Concept became policy in 1973; the Air Force Reserve became a multiple mission force flying the same aircraft as active-duty forces.
In the 1980s, there was a push to modernize and expand the Air Force Reserve program. Reservists began flying KC-10 tanker aircraft mid-air refueling missions, plus fighter jet missions in the F-16. The Reserve force would be an important part of both Gulf War missions and that era marked a new chapter in the Reserve force as it became utilized more and more to extend the effectiveness of the total force.
In the aftermath of September 11, Air Force Reserve crews were instrumental in air combat patrol missions in American airspace; those missions included both fighter jet operations and tanker air refueling missions. The present-day Air Force Reserve force includes more than 70,000 Americans serving worldwide.