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Jon Burch Photography
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Strategic Air Command (SAC) is an inactive United States Air Force Major Command. Established in 1946 under the United States Army Air Forces, its mission was the command and control of the United States' land-based strategic bomber aircraft and land-based intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) strategic nuclear arsenal.
SAC also controlled the infrastructure necessary to support the strategic bomber and ICBM operations, such as aerial refueling tanker aircraft to refuel the bombers in flight, strategic reconnaissance aircraft, command post aircraft, and, until 1957, fighter escorts.
It was inactivated on 1 June 1992 and its personnel and equipment were absorbed by Air Combat Command and Air Mobility Command. Its direct successor, Air Force Global Strike Command was activated on 7 August 2009 to meet the needs of the Air Force to develop and provide combat-ready forces for nuclear deterrence and global strike operation.
During the interwar period between World War I and World War II, a group of U.S. Army Air Corps officers colloquially referred to as the Bomber Mafia, convinced of the potential of strategic bombing, paved the way both for the massive strategic air campaigns in Europe and the Pacific in World War II and the later creation of SAC. It's predecessor, the Continental Air Forces, was established on 13 December 1944 and activated on 15 December 1944. After 8 May 1945, CAF coordinated the training activities of the numbered air forces within the United States (1st Air Force, 2nd Air Force, 3rd Air Force and 4th Air Force) and those of the I Troop Carrier Command.
On 21 March 1946, Continental Air Forces (CAF) was disestablished as part of a major reorganization of the USAAF. Within the United States, the USAAF was divided into three separate commands: Tactical Air Command (TAC), Air Defense Command (ADC), and Strategic Air Command (SAC). Airfields formerly assigned to CAF were reassigned to one of these three major commands.
SAC's original headquarters was located at Bolling Field in Washington, DC, the headquarters of the disestablished Continental Air Forces, with the headquarters organization of CAF being redesignated as Strategic Air Command. Its first commander was General George C. Kenney. Ten days later, the Fifteenth Air Force was assigned to the command as its first Numbered Air Force. There were thirteen bombardment groups assigned to Continental Air Forces just before its redesignation as SAC. These included the 40th (effectively became 43rd), 44th, the 93rd, 444th, 448th (became 92nd), 449th, 467th (effectively became 301st), 485th, and 498th (became 307th). There was also the 58th Bombardment Wing, Very Heavy, which supervised the Silverplate atomic-capable 509th Composite Group. Also active was the 73rd Bombardment Wing, Very Heavy, transferred from Third Air Force. However several of these units were quickly disbanded, or renumbered to preserve the heritage of other units. In June 1946 Eighth Air Force was also assigned. SAC's HQ then moved to Andrews AFB, MD on 20 October 1946.
I can remember waking up early some mornings to the whine of jet engines on the runways at Shilling Air Force Base in Kansas.
Photograph copyright Jon Burch Photography
May 2nd, 2013
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