The official birthday for the US Air Force is September 18, 1947. This is the date the National Security Act of 1947 was passed, it was the legislation that created what would later be known as the Department of Defense. It also established the US Air Force as a separate branch of the military. This year marks the 73rd Birthday of the Air Force.
Prior to the Security Act of 1947, the flying operations of the military were split between the Army by land and the Navy by sea. Between 1941 and 1947 the Army was working toward setting the stage for the inception of the Air Force. The Navy opposed the idea, but they were unable to stop it.
In 1945, General Eisenhower was promoted to Chief of Staff and General Carl Spaatz became the commander of the Army Air Forces. Not long after, it was decided that the Army would be reorganized and that a separate Air Force would be created. Then in 1946, the agreement was made that the Air Force would be made up of an array of commands:
- Strategic Air Command
- Air Defense Command
- Tactical Air Command
- Air Transport Command
- Air Technical Service Command
- Air Training Command
- Air University
- Air Force Center
On the official birthday of the Air Force in 1947, Stuart Symington was appointed as the first Secretary of the Air Force. Army Air bases were then redesignated as simply, Air Force bases. New uniforms and insignias were rolled out, and the new command structure was put into place to make room for the specialized training needed by Air Force pilots and commanders.
Today the US Air Force has a total strength, including Guard and Reserve members, of a little over half-a-million. There are over three-hundred thousand active duty troops, with approximately twenty thousand pilots.