Air Force Structure and Organization

How the Air Force Is Organized | Air Force Structure and Organization

Maybe you’re new to the Air Force and you’re still trying to learn the terminology. Squadron group MAJCoM Wing Flight NAF. I remember that feeling, and I know that trying to figure out the hierarchical structure and chain of command can seem incredibly overwhelming. But I’m going to show you in this video that it really just doesn’t have to be, because it is a pretty simple concept to grasp, and it is absolutely something that you do need to know. So maybe also if you’re army or navy or marine and you’re located at a joint base with air Force members and you have no idea what our organizational structure is, who answers to whom, or how each unit fits within the chain of command, this video can be helpful for you, too, because in this video, I’m going to break down the Air Force organizational structure to try to make it as simple as possible to understand.

So here it is.

The most basic unit that I’m going to start with is the squadron. Each squadron performs a particular function, and at the squadron level is how we divide people into different career fields. So, for instance, you have the dental squadron, our dentists, the security Forces squadron, our cops, the communications squadron, our it folks, or maybe the aircraft maintenance squadron. So the folks turning wrenches on jets, you have a ton of different squadrons, and they’re all separated based on the function that they perform. Now, within a squadron, you can have small subunits called flights.

So, for instance, let’s take the force support squadron FSS. FSS has a very broad mission to support airmen and their families. So within that one squadron, FSS, you can have a flight that runs the dining facility. You can have another flight that runs the fitness center, another flight that runs the base post office, another flight that focuses on manpower issues and military records management. So FSS does a ton of different things, but each of these individual subunit flights all work to support the one unified mission of the force support squadron.

Above a squadron, you have a group, and a group is the organization of two or more squadrons that perform similar types of missions. So, for instance, you can have the dental squadron, the surgical Operations squadron, the medical support squadron, all of these different medical based squadrons, and they will all come together to fall under one group, the medical group. Similarly, you can have the aircraft maintenance squadron. So the folks turning wrenches on jets, and you can have the maintenance squadron, who you can think of as the folks in the backshop who are making and fixing parts. And both of these squadrons will fall under one group, which will be the maintenance group.

Or also each aircraft is going to have its own squadron. So let’s say you’re working on a base where they have KC ten. So one of our refuelers, all of the pilots and the air crew that work on the KC ten are going to be in their own squadron. Let’s say on that same base you have f fighter jets. So the pilots for the 35s are going to be in their own squadron.

And let’s say on that same base you have MQ nine s. The pilots and the technicians that work with the MQ nine s are going to be in their own squadron, but all of these squadrons are going to come together to fall under one group, the operations group. So, to recap, you have the squadron, and you may have some subunits within a squadron called flights. You take two or more related squadrons and put them together to form a group. And above all groups on an installation, you have the wing.

So the squadron commanders will answer to the group commanders, the group commanders will answer to the wing commander. And that is an air force installations chain of command. That is the general way that air force installations are organized. But of course, you can always have exceptions. So let’s say, for instance, you have an f 35 unit that belongs to wing a over here, but they are physically located at Wing B over here.

So to wing a, that f 35 unit is going to be called a geographically separated unit or a GSU. To wing b, that f 35 unit is going to be called a tenant unit, because wing a still has administrative control over the unit, even though they’re sitting at wing b. So that can be one example of an exception. Also, you could have the case where there are two wings sitting at one installation, such as the case with my knot air force base. But generally, wings are set up with the basic structure that I explained before.

Each wing also has a particular function that it serves. So, for instance, you can have a bomb wing that supports bomber operations or a fighter wing that supports fighter operations. A test wing where we test things like aircraft capabilities or weapons, things like that. A training wing where people go to train. So you get the point.

So if you look at it in a more simple way, like in a corporate type of way, the wing level, those are your frontline crew, those are your worker bees, the folks on the ground and above the wing level, that’s when you start to get into your management levels. And the first line of managers are at the NAF. Wings are also organized based on either their similar function or their geographic location. And the level above the wing is called the numbered air force or the NAF, and we call it a numbered air force because it is literally a number air force. So, for instance, all of the wings that are located in South Korea fall under 7th Air Force.

All of the wings that are located in Japan fall under Fifth Air Force. The wings in Europe fall under third air force. But wings can also be organized based on function. So, for instance, wings that support nonflying technical training fall under second air force, but training that does involve flying. So manned and unmanned aircraft fall under 19th Air Force.

Our bomber mission, for example, is going to fall under 8th Air Force, and our cyber mission is going to fall under 16th Air Force. So geographic location and strategic operations, that’s how NAFs are organized to support the wings that they oversee within similar mission sets. And sorry, but I’m about to have to go to work, so I will be right back. And I’m back. All right, so above the NAF, you have the magcom or the major command.

Magcoms are similar to nafs in that they can either be geographic or function based. So, like I talked about before, Fifth Air Force in Japan and 7th Air Force in South Korea. Both of those Navs are going to fall under Pacific Command, or PACAF, as their magcom, as would 11th Air Force in Alaska and Guam, for instance. But when we’re talking about function based magcoms, Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve Command, for instance, they both have their own separate magcoms. AETC air education and training command is the magcom for all training wings.

AFMC Air Force materials Command. Those are going to be all of your wings that deal with the materials of war. So we’re talking about wings that do testing, research and development, logistics support, acquisitions, things like that, or AFSOC. Air Force Special Operations Command, which is the MagCom that supports our special Ops missions. So, again, magcoms are grouped based on geographic location or operational function, and they provide macro level support to all of the nafs that support their designated mission.

And finally, we started with the workers on the ground at the wing level, and then we moved up to look at the management level with nafs and magcoms. And the tier above that is headquarters Air Force, which is our military leadership. And they aim the Air force’s overall focus based on the objectives set forth by the secretary of the Air Force, who is the civilian leader of the department of the Air Force. And if you’re wondering to yourself, wait a minute, we go through all of that, and ultimately, the secretary of the entire department is a civilian. Why is that?

It’s always been that way. The concept of civilian control of the military, and that concept was intentionally included into the US Constitution. Actually, basically, by placing the military under civilian control, it helps to ensure that the military doesn’t grow to overthrow our civilian institutions and threaten our democratic system of government. Our founding fathers always wanted to make sure that the military’s purpose was to defend society, never to define it. That’s why, per the constitution, the president of the United States is designated as the commander in chief and Congress is given the authority to declare war.

And later, in the National Security act of 1947, the secretaries of the Air Force, army and Navy were created, and that act mandated that those positions be held by civilians. So to recap it all squadron group wing NAF Magcom headquarters secretary commander in chief I hope this made things easier to understand. If this was helpful, then please make sure to hit those like and subscribe buttons down below. It is completely free to you, and it does actually help push this content out so that more people can have access to it. If you found this video useful, you’ll probably also like this video here about some common myths about joining the Air force.

And also, if you have any questions, then feel free to leave a comment in the comment section down below and I will answer whatever questions that I can. As always, I do appreciate your time. I thank you for being here, and I’ll see you. Bye.

Leave a Comment