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In the United States Air Force, a Division was an intermediate level of command, subordinate to a Numbered Air Force, controlling one or more Wings. It is now considered obsolete.


On 16 September 1947, the United States Army Air Force became the United States Air Force as a separate and equal element of the United States armed forces. Earlier, on 21 March 1946, General Carl A. Spaatz had undertaken a major reorganization of the Army Air Forces that had included the establishment of the Major Command echelon as the first level of command below Headquarters, USAAF.

The World War II commands, which had been subordinate to the Numbered Air Forces, were eliminated in the reorganization of 1946, and the Numbered Air Forces were made components of the major commands at home and overseas.

The new organizational hierarchy thus contained the following levels : squadron, group, wing, air force, command. In 1948, and afterward, the World War II wings were redesignated Divisions, and placed immediately below the numbered air forces in the organizational pyramid. The "Wing" was redefined to be the USAF basic organizational unit which exercised command and control over a "Base", the physical facility that included the airfield and the support units (groups, squadrons) to support the operation of a wing.

In the years after 1948, the Air Force "Division" carried several designations of the name "Strategic Aerospace Division"; "Strategic Missile Division"; "Space Division", however the most common designation was "Air Division".


Air Divisions were found in all Major Commands between 1948 and 1992, when the last Air Division was inactivated. Official policy dictated the use of Arabic numerals for numbered air and aerospace divisions. Examples: 2nd Air Division, 7th Air Division, and 1st Strategic Aerospace Division.

Following the initiation of Major Command-controlled (MAJCON) four-digit Table of Distribution (T/D) organizations in 1948, the major commands were briefly authorized to organize air divisions, provided they secured USAF approval. Two four-digit air divisions (4310th Air Division and 7217th Air Division) were subsequently organized.

Besides numbered Air Divisions, a Named Air Division was an organization within a large support command that was assigned a major or important segment of that command's mission--e.g., the Electronic Systems Division handled a large part of the Air Force Systems Command's work-load in electronic systems. Because they were usually technical or highly specialized in nature, named divisions generally had a large number of personnel. One named division of an operational command was the USAF Southern Air Division which absorbed resources of the United States Air Forces Southern Command in 1976, and was part of Tactical Air Command.

An Air Division's numerical identification was usually unique to a Major Command, however when inactivated, the numerical identification could and was used by a different Major Command if it was reactivated.

During the Vietnam War Air Divisions were commonly used as 'placeholder' organizations when the Operational Wing at an Air Force Base was deployed to Southeast Asia and commanded the remaining groups and squadrons at a single or multiple Air Force bases.

Air Divisions were gradually phased out of the Air Force command structure after the end of the Vietnam War, with the Numbered Air Force assuming direct command of its subordinate Wings. The last existed into the early 1990s and their usage ended with the 1992 major reorganization of the USAF Major Commands.

Vietnam War

In Vietnam the USAF's 834th Air Division also had small Divisional lateral units called an "Elements." The 834th Air Division Airlift Command Center (ALCC commonly called "mother") operated eight Airlift Command Elements (ALCE's) throughout South Vietnam.

The ALCE's were commanded by Lieutenant Colonels, usually had several supervising Majors, a supervising senior NCO (usually an E-7) over AFSC 27150 (Mission Monitors or Mission Controlers) E-3s to E-6s. Two famous ALCE's in South Vietnam were Rocket Alley ALCE (pronounce Al-See) at Bien Hoa ABmarker and Sandbox ALCE at Cam Rahn Bay ABmarker. Rocket Alley ALCE was a hard-luck combat assignment while Sandbox ALCE was essentially free from enemy attack and considered a day at the beach assignment with an in country R&R center.

Strategic Air Command division insignia

  • AD=Air Division
  • AD(P)=Air Division Provisional
  • MD=Missile Division
  • SAD=Strategic Aerospace Division
  • SMD=Strategic Missile Division

Image:Division_012th_Air.gif|12th ADImage:Division_013th_Air.gif|13th AD and 13th SMDImage:Division_014th_Air.gif|14th AD and 14th SADImage:Division_017th_Strategic_Missile.gif|17th SAD 17th SMD 17th AD(P)Image:Division_018th_Air.gif|18th Air and 18th SADImage:Division_019th_Air.gif|19th ADImage:Division_021st_Air.gif|21st AD and 21st SADImage:Division_022nd_Strategic_Aerospace.gif|22nd SADImage:Division_036th_Air.gif|36th ADImage:Division_038th_Air.gif|38th ADImage:Division_040th_Air.gif|40th ADImage:Division_042nd_Air.gif|42nd ADImage:Division_045th_Air.gif|45th ADImage:Division_047th_Air.gif|47th AD and 47th SADImage:Division_057th_Air.gif|57th ADImage:Division_065th_Air.gif|65th ADImage:Division_100th_Air.gif|100th ADImage:Division_801st_Air.gif|801st ADImage:Division_802nd_Air.gif|802nd ADImage:Division_806th_Air.gif|806th ADImage:Division_810th_Air.gif|810th AD and 810th SADImage:Division_813th_Air.gif|813th SADImage:Division_816th_Air.gif|816th AD and 816th SADImage:Division_817th_Air.gif|817th ADImage:Division_818th_Air.gif|818th AD and 818th SADImage:Division_819th_Air.gif|819th AD and 819th SADImage:Division_820th_Air.gif|820th AD and 820th SADImage:Division_821st_Air.gif|821st AD and 821st SADImage:Division_822nd_Air.gif|822nd ADImage:Division_823rd_Air.gif|823rd ADImage:Division_825th_Air.gif}825th AD and 825th SADImage:830thad-emblem.jpg|830th ADFile:834ad-emblem.jpg|834th AD


  • Maurer, Maurer (1983). Air Force Combat Units Of World War II. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0892010924.

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