Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Wings of Glory - The 60th Anniversary of the US Air Force

Since its creation as a separate service on Sept. 18, 1947, the U.S. Air Force has protected the nation's interests across the globe. From its inception, the Air Force was engaged as a deterrent against the grasp of the Soviet Union. Constituting much of the West's bulwark against the Soviet Union in the Cold War, with SAC aircraft and missiles on constant alert as a deterrent against a nuclear strike, the Air Force also fought in the "hot" wars of Korea and Vietnam. The collapse of the Soviet Union, and with it the end of the Cold War, brought not peace but a new world disorder, with old ethnic hatreds, lethal feelings of nationalism, radical religious fundamentalism, and the terrorism attendant to all three rushing in to fill the void that the collapse of the former world had left. As the world has changed, so has the Air Force adapted to these changes. Indeed, within weeks of the service's birth, then-Col. Charles E. "Chuck" Yeager became the first man to exceed the speed of sound in level flight, heralding the supersonic age. It was only one indicator of the Air Force's technological lead, which it has never relinquished. When Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait, it set the stage for the Air Force to use the tools of technology and personnel it had sharpened in the Cold War. The result was that forces on the ground were able to roll over a demoralized and decimated Iraqi army in a mere 100 hours, never having to look overhead to see if the aircraft above them were their own.