U.S. Air Forces Africa, located at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, is combined with U.S. Air Forces in Europe and is the air component for the Department of Defense unified command - U.S. Africa Command located at Stuttgart, Germany.
AFAFRICA conducts sustained security engagement and operations as directed to promote air safety, security and development on the African continent. Through its theater security cooperation events, AFAFRICA carries out U.S. AFRICOM's policy of seeking long-term partnership with the African Union and regional organizations as well as individual nations on the continent. AFAFRICA works with other U.S. government agencies, to include the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development, to assist our African partners in developing national and regional security institution capabilities that promote security and stability and facilitate development. Through this interagency synergy, AFAFRICA is able to strengthen existing relationships and expand its network of partners on the continent.
U.S. AIR FORCES AFRICA OPERATIONS
AFAFRICA is responsible for conducting Air Force, joint and combined air and space operations in the U.S. AFRICOM area of responsibility. To fulfill these responsibilities, AFAFRICA employs a full spectrum of capabilities. AFAFRICA oversees Air Force assets, and civil and military engagements in the U.S. AFRICOM area of responsibility.
U.S. AIR FORCES AFRICA Forward Operating Locations
The 449th Air Expeditionary Group, Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, provides combat search and rescue for the Combined Joint Task Force, Horn of Africa. It is comprised of HC-130P Hercules from the 81st Expeditionary Rescue Squadron, and para-rescuemen from the 82nd Expeditionary Rescue Squadron.
The 404th Air Expeditionary Group is co-located with AFAFRICA at Ramstein AB. During contingency operations, the group forward-deploys to facilitate air and support operations for varied missions on the continent, ranging from humanitarian airlift to presidential support.
The 409th Air Expeditionary Group provides the primary intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions across the entire AFRICOM area of responsibility from multiple locations. The objective is to promote regional security and stability, dissuade conflict and protect U.S. and coalition interests.
The establishment of NATO in 1949 increased USAFE responsibilities and resulted in the designation and activation of Headquarters 17th Air Force April 25, 1953, at Rabat, Morocco. The new numbered air force had a primary support mission for a geographic area of North Africa, Portugal, Austria, the Middle East, Pakistan, India, Ceylon and the Mediterranean Islands. Seventeenth Air Force was moved to Wheelus Air Base, Libya, Aug. 1, 1956, then was moved without personnel or equipment to Ramstein Air Base, West Germany, Nov. 15, 1959.
At Ramstein, 17th Air Force exchanged its support mission in the southern region for the defensive and offensive air mission in central Europe. It was moved to Sembach Air Base, West Germany, in October 1972.
In the 1980s, 17th Air Force saw the number of its subordinate units almost double. Its area of responsibility included three of the ground-launched cruise missile sites in Europe. In 1985, for the first time ever, 17th Air Force brought together all European-based electronic warfare aircraft under a single command when it activated the 65th Air Division and the 66th Electronic Wing at Sembach. All of these units were deactivated in the early 1990s and Headquarters 17th Air Force was inactivated at Sembach effective Sept. 30, 1996.
Seventeenth Air Force was reactivated at Ramstein on Oct. 1, 2008, to serve as the air component for the newly established combatant command, U.S. Africa Command. It was once again inactivated on April 20, 2012, as one of the first visible steps in the Secretary of Defense-directed command restructuring. Members of 17th Air Force, USAFE and 3rd Air Force started integrating in October 2011. The 603rd Air and Space Operations Center, aligned under USAFE's 3rd Air Force, assumed the command and control mission of U.S. air operations in both Europe and Africa as part of the consolidation.
USAFE continues to provide combat ready forces, maintain vital access to three continents, and assure friends and allies while building their operational capacity.
Most recently these unique attributes came to the forefront during U.S. support to operations in Libya in 2011. When the U.N. called upon the international community for action, USAFE and AFAFRICA were able to quickly draw upon its people and resources to first provide humanitarian assistance in the early crisis.
Later, several wings in USAFE and AFAFRICA contributed combat forces as part of a coalition of European and other partner nations to protect the Libyan populace from the violence of the Qadhafi regime. After NATO assumed responsibility for Libya in April 2011, USAFE bases continued their support for follow-on operations.