United States Air Force (USAF)
Major component of the U.S. military organization, with primary responsibility for air warfare, air defense, and military space research. It also provides air services in coordination with the other military branches. U.S. military activities in the air began with army use of balloons for reconnaissance during the Civil War and the Spanish-American War; in 1907 the Aeronautical Division of the Signal Corps was created. In 1920 the Army Reorganization Act created the Air Service (after 1926, Air Corps) as a unit of the Army; in 1941 it became the Army Air Forces. In 1947 the independent U.S. Air Force was created and became part of the newly created Department of Defense in 1949. The Department of the Air Force is headquartered at the Pentagon. Separate operating agencies of the Air Force include the Air Force Reserve, the Air Force Intelligence Service, and the U.S. Air Force Academy. In 2000 there were over 350,000 Air Force personnel on active duty.
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