Awards and decorations of the United States Armed Forces
The United States Armed Forces awards and decorations are the medals, service ribbons, specific badges which recognize military service and personal accomplishments while a member of the U. S. Armed Forces; such awards are a means to outwardly display the highlights of a service member's career. While each service has its own order of precedence, the following general rules apply to all services: U. S. military personal decorations U. S. military unit awards U. S. non-military personal decorations Presidential awards National Medals DoD and JCS Distinguished Service awards Agency-specific Distinguished Service awards Agency-specific Superior Service awards Agency-specific Meritorious Service awards Agency-specific Commendation awards Agency-specific Achievement awards Civilian unit awards Civilian service awards U. S. non-military unit awards U. S. military campaign and service medals U. S. military service and training awards U. S. Merchant Marine awards and non-military service awards Foreign military personal decorations Foreign military unit awards Non-U.
S. Service awards Foreign military service awards Marksmanship awards Awards of U. S. military societies and other organizations6a 6b State awards of the National Guard Notes on branch-specific exceptions to the above: 1a In the Army, unit awards are worn as a separate grouping, on the right side of the uniform and without frames, are worn in the order of precedence from the wearer’s right to left. 1b In the Navy, unit award ribbons are only worn on the right side of the uniform, when wearing full medals on the left side. Arrange ribbons in order of precedence in rows from top down, inboard to outboard. For U. S. Navy, the USPHS unit awards are considered unit awards. However, if Navy personnel are awarded USPHS personal decorations the USPHS order of precedence would apply. 2 Some awards, despite being ribbon-only, are higher in precedence. The Navy & Coast Guard Combat Action Ribbons and the Coast Guard's Commandant's Letter of Commendation Ribbon are included with personal decorations, while two Air Force ribbon-only awards and the Coast Guard Enlisted Person of the Year Ribbon are considered in the same category as service medals.
3a Marksmanship Awards in the Air Force are considered training awards. 3b The Army and Marine Corps issue Marksmanship Qualification Badges instead of Marksmanship awards. 4 For Navy, Merchant Marine awards are considered U. S. non-military awards. 5 The obsolete Philippine Commonwealth service awards, when still listed in the order of precedence, come before the United Nations medals or before the Merchant Marine awards. 6a For Navy and ribbons from military societies, such as the Army and Navy Union of the United States, worn in the order earned may be worn after marksmanship awards. Medals and badges issued by these societies may be worn only while attending meetings or conventions or while participating in parades or other ceremonies as a member of these organizations. 6b For Army, no allowance of military society medals or ribbons is prescribed. More badges of the Army and Navy Union of the United States of America are authorized for such active duty ANU members without further restriction.
Badges of other civic and quasi-military societies of the United States, international organizations of a military nature may be worn with restrictions. These include badges of organizations composed of members who served in a U. S. force during the Revolutionary War. The badges are worn only while the wearer is attending meetings or functions of such organizations, or on occasions of ceremony. Personnel will not wear these badges to and from such events. Notes: Precedence of particular awards will vary among the different branches of service. All awards and decorations may be awarded to any service member unless otherwise designated by name or notation. Note: ^ The precedence of the Purple Heart was before the Good Conduct Medals until changed to its current precedence in 1985. Inter-service Air Force Army Coast Guard Navy and Marine CorpsTo denote additional achievements or multiple awards of the same decoration, the United States military maintains a number of award devices which are pinned to service ribbons and medals.
Awards and decorations of the National Guard Awards and decorations of the state defense forces U. S. military personnel having received these awards have either been discharged or retired for a substantial length of time and/or are deceased. The following decorations were designed for issuance with an approved medal, but were either never approved for presentation or were discontinued bef
Air and Space Campaign Medal
The Air and Space Campaign Medal is an award of the United States Air Force, first created on April 24, 2002 by order of Secretary of the Air Force James G. Roche; the ASCM may be awarded to members of the USAF who, after March 24, 1999, supported a significant U. S. military operation designated by the Chief of Staff of the United States Air Force as qualifying for the ASCM. To be eligible for the Air and Space Campaign Medal a service member must perform direct support of a military operation for at least thirty consecutive days or for sixty non-consecutive days. "Direct support" is defined as deploying in support of an ASCM approved operation inside the geographic area of combat which were deployed forward. This includes, but is not limited to, sortie generation, surveillance, etc. Squadron Commanders may determine other functions. Members who provided direct support for 30 consecutive or 60 nonconsecutive days to one of these operations inside of the geographic area of combat qualify for the ASCM.
The Air and Space Campaign Medal is only authorized for Air Force personnel and is prohibited for issuance if another campaign or service medal has been received for the operation in question. Additional awards are denoted by service stars. Operation Allied Force 24 March 1999 – 10 June 1999 Operation Joint Guardian 11 June 1999 – Date to be Determined Operation Allied Harbour 4 April 1999 – 1 September 1999 Operation Sustain Hope/Shining Hope 4 April 1999 – 10 July 1999 Operation Noble Anvil 24 March 1999 – 20 July 1999 Kosovo Task Force Hawk 5 April 1999 – 24 June 1999 Kosovo Task Force Saber 31 March 1999 – 8 July 1999 Kosovo Task Force Falcon 11 June 1999 – DTBD Kosovo Task Force Hunter 1 April 1999 – 1 November 1999 Operation Odyssey Dawn 26 February 2011 – 31 October 2011 Operation Unified Protector 26 February 2011 – 31 October 2011Operations related to the Global War on Terrorism are not eligible for the ASCM. Air and Space Campaign Medal
The Commendation Medal is a mid-level United States military decoration, presented for sustained acts of heroism or meritorious service. For valorous actions in direct contact with an enemy, but of a lesser degree than required for the award of the Bronze Star Medal, a Commendation Medal with "V" Device or Combat "V" is awarded. On January 7 2016, The "C" Device or Combat "C” was created and may be authorized for wear on the service and suspension ribbon of the Commendation Medal to distinguish an award for meritorious service or achievement under the most arduous combat conditions. A Commendation Medal with Combat Device is unofficially named the “Combat Commendation” and is considered to be a higher level form of the Commendation Medal, regardless of the Awarding Branch. Retroactive award of the “C” device is not approved for medals awarded before 7 January 2016; each branch of the United States Armed Forces issues its own version of the Commendation Medal, with a fifth version existing for acts of joint military service performed under the Department of Defense.
The Commendation Medal was only a service ribbon and was first awarded by the U. S. Navy and U. S. Coast Guard in 1943. An Army Commendation Ribbon followed in 1945, in 1949, the Navy, Coast Guard, Army Commendation ribbons were renamed the "Commendation Ribbon with Metal Pendant". By 1960, the Commendation Ribbons had been authorized as full medals and were subsequently referred to as Commendation Medals. Additional awards of the Army and Air Force Commendation Medals are denoted by bronze and silver oak leaf clusters; the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal and Coast Guard Commendation Medal are authorized gold and silver 5/16 inch stars to denote additional awards. The Operational Distinguishing Device is authorized for wear on the Coast Guard Commendation Medal upon approval of the awarding authority. Order of Precedence is following the Air Medal but before the Prisoner of War Medal and all campaign medals; each of the military services awards separate Achievement Medals which are below the Commendation Medals in precedence.
The Joint Service Commendation Medal was authorized on 25 June 1963 and is awarded in the name of the Secretary of Defense to members of the Armed Forces of the United States who, after 1 January 1963, distinguished themselves by meritorious achievement or service in a joint duty capacity. This award is intended for senior service on a joint military staff and is senior in precedence to service-specific Commendation Medals; as such, it is worn above the service Commendation Medals on a military uniform. DevicesOak leaf cluster "V" Device The Army Commendation Medal is awarded to any member of the Armed Forces of the United States other than General Officers who, while serving in any capacity with the U. S. Army after December 6, 1941, distinguished themselves by heroism, meritorious achievement or meritorious service; the medal may be awarded to a member of another branch of the U. S. Armed Forces or of a friendly foreign nation who, after June 1, 1962, distinguishes themselves by an act of heroism, extraordinary achievement, or significant meritorious service, of mutual benefit to the friendly nation and the United States.
Criteria and appearanceThe Army Commendation Medal is awarded to American and foreign military personnel in the grade of O-6 and below who have performed noteworthy service in any capacity with the United States Army. Qualifying service for the award of the medal can be for distinctive meritorious achievement and service, acts of courage involving no voluntary risk of life, or sustained meritorious performance of duty. Approval of the award must be made by an officer in the grade of higher; the medallion of the Army Commendation Medal is a bronze hexagon, 13⁄8 inches wide. On the medallion is an American bald eagle with wings spread horizontally, grasping in its talons three crossed arrows. On its breast is a shield paly of thirteen pieces and a chief; the reverse bears a panel for naming between the words FOR MILITARY above and MERIT below, all placed above a laurel sprig. The ribbon is 13⁄8 inches wide of myrtle green, it is edged in white and in the center are five thin white stripes spaced apart.
DevicesOak leaf cluster "V" Device "C" Device "R" Device The U. S. Air Force began issuing its own Air Force Commendation Medal in 1958 with additional awards denoted by oak leaf clusters. Prior to this time, USAF recipients received the Army Commendation Medal, it was not until 1996. On January 7, 2016, the "C" device and "R" device was authorized on the Air Force Commendation Medal as well. For USAF enlisted personnel, the Air Force Commendation Medal is worth three points under the Air Force enlisted promotion system. Criteria and appearanceThe Air Force Commendation Medal is awarded to both American and foreign military personnel of any service branch in the U. S. military grade of O-6 and below
Air Force Combat Action Medal
The Air Force Combat Action Medal is a new medal created for the United States Air Force in March 2007 to recognize Air Force members for active participation in ground or air combat. The AFCAM was first awarded on June 12, 2007 to six Air Force members who were engaged in air or ground combat off base in a combat zone during Operation Enduring Freedom or Operation Iraqi Freedom; the medal is retroactive from September 11, 2001 to a date to be determined and may be awarded posthumously. For an airman to wear the AFCAM, members must provide proper documentation to their commander which includes a narrative explanation of the airman's involvement in combat activities to the first O-6 in their operational chain of command on an AF Form 3994; the application will be processed through the chain of command and be approved or disapproved by the Commander of Air Force Forces. Nomination of the award of the AFCAM will be restricted to members of the U. S. Armed Forces who on or after 11 September 2001 were under any of the following conditions: Deliberately go into the enemy's domain to conduct official duties, either on the ground or in the air, have come under enemy fire by lethal weapons while performing those duties, are at risk of grave danger.
While defending the base, must have come under enemy fire and engage the enemy with direct and lethal fire, are at risk of grave danger. Are personnel in ground operations who engage the enemy with direct and lethal fires may qualify if no direct fire is taken, as long as there was risk of grave danger and meets other criteria. Retroactive awards prior to 11 September 2001 are not authorized; the AFCAM has no patch or badge equivalent for wear on the Airman Battle Uniform and other functional uniforms that are worn for daily duties and deployments. It is worn after the Air Force Achievement Medal and before the Air Force Presidential Unit Citation; the AFCAM may be awarded to members from the other Armed Forces and foreign military members serving in a U. S. Air Force unit, provided they meet the criteria for the award. According to USAF Memo, 25 June 2015, Air Force Instruction 36-2803, 18 December 2013: AFCAM, Authorized Device: A gold star will be worn to recognize subsequent operations when approved by the Chief of Staff of the Air Force.
However, in AFI36-2903, gold stars are not included in the AF list of authorized ribbon devices. No ribbon device is authorized for wear in AFI36-2803 to denote subsequent awards of the AFCAM, which would be oak leaf clusters; the Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard authorizes a 5⁄16" gold star to denote subsequent awards of specific decorations and a 3⁄16" bronze service star is worn on the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal to denote a subsequent operation. Note: This may be the beginning of a first time wearing of a gold star device by a member of the Air Force on any one of their awards: General Tod Wolters, U. S. A. F. Publicly wears a 3⁄16" gold star on an AFCAM service ribbon on his uniform since at least September 2013. Wolters has fought in Operation Iraqi Freedom. In conjunction with the Army Institute of Heraldry, the medal was designed by Susan Gamble, a professional artist and Master Designer for the U. S. Mint, wife of Mike Gamble, an Air Force colonel, she was quoted by the Washington Post as saying, "It was just a real pleasure to give this back to the Air Force that's been part of my life."Gamble based the silver medal's design and ribbon color from the circular insignia painted on planes which were piloted by Brigadier General William "Billy" Mitchell, including a French-built SPAD XVI fighter aircraft he piloted in France during World War I.
His SPAD 16 is displayed at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D. C. Mitchell is known as the father of the U. S. Air Force. A laurel wreath surrounds the medal's eagle emblem executed in a simple, linear Art Deco style; the eagle with a national flag shield with thirteen perpendicular stripes on its breast faces right, over the right talon clutching arrows, to reflect that this is a combat medal. The left talon clutches an olive branch; the eagle which symbolizes Mitchell's military rank insignia of colonel, has above it a five-pointed star which represents Mitchell's wartime promotion to the temporary rank of brigadier general in October, 1918. The reverse side of the medal contains two rows of words written on a scroll at the center of the eagle, "U. S. Air Force" and "Combat Action"; the ribbon's diagonal stripes at first could not be manufactured in the United States. S; this design problem was resolved when a mill in Bally, Bally Ribbon Mills, bought a new loom to weave the diagonal stripe.
A Rhode Island firm, Ira Green Inc. in Providence, made the metal parts. The AFCAM is the only U. S. military award to have a diagonally patterned ribbon, much like the British Distinguished Flying Cross and Netherlands Airman's Cross. The AFCAM service ribbon has five stripes; the AFCAM was presented for the first time to six Airmen by the Air Force Chief of Staff, General T. Michael Moseley, at the U. S. Air Force Mem
United States Navy
The United States Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. It is the largest and most capable navy in the world and it has been estimated that in terms of tonnage of its active battle fleet alone, it is larger than the next 13 navies combined, which includes 11 U. S. allies or partner nations. With the highest combined battle fleet tonnage and the world's largest aircraft carrier fleet, with eleven in service, two new carriers under construction. With 319,421 personnel on active duty and 99,616 in the Ready Reserve, the Navy is the third largest of the service branches, it has 282 deployable combat vessels and more than 3,700 operational aircraft as of March 2018, making it the second-largest air force in the world, after the United States Air Force. The U. S. Navy traces its origins to the Continental Navy, established during the American Revolutionary War and was disbanded as a separate entity shortly thereafter.
The U. S. Navy played a major role in the American Civil War by blockading the Confederacy and seizing control of its rivers, it played the central role in the World War II defeat of Imperial Japan. The US Navy emerged from World War II as the most powerful navy in the world; the 21st century U. S. Navy maintains a sizable global presence, deploying in strength in such areas as the Western Pacific, the Mediterranean, the Indian Ocean, it is a blue-water navy with the ability to project force onto the littoral regions of the world, engage in forward deployments during peacetime and respond to regional crises, making it a frequent actor in U. S. foreign and military policy. The Navy is administratively managed by the Department of the Navy, headed by the civilian Secretary of the Navy; the Department of the Navy is itself a division of the Department of Defense, headed by the Secretary of Defense. The Chief of Naval Operations is the most senior naval officer serving in the Department of the Navy.
The mission of the Navy is to maintain and equip combat-ready Naval forces capable of winning wars, deterring aggression and maintaining freedom of the seas. The U. S. Navy is a seaborne branch of the military of the United States; the Navy's three primary areas of responsibility: The preparation of naval forces necessary for the effective prosecution of war. The maintenance of naval aviation, including land-based naval aviation, air transport essential for naval operations, all air weapons and air techniques involved in the operations and activities of the Navy; the development of aircraft, tactics, technique and equipment of naval combat and service elements. U. S. Navy training manuals state that the mission of the U. S. Armed Forces is "to be prepared to conduct prompt and sustained combat operations in support of the national interest." As part of that establishment, the U. S. Navy's functions comprise sea control, power projection and nuclear deterrence, in addition to "sealift" duties, it follows as certain as that night succeeds the day, that without a decisive naval force we can do nothing definitive, with it, everything honorable and glorious.
Naval power... is the natural defense of the United States The Navy was rooted in the colonial seafaring tradition, which produced a large community of sailors and shipbuilders. In the early stages of the American Revolutionary War, Massachusetts had its own Massachusetts Naval Militia; the rationale for establishing a national navy was debated in the Second Continental Congress. Supporters argued that a navy would protect shipping, defend the coast, make it easier to seek out support from foreign countries. Detractors countered that challenging the British Royal Navy the world's preeminent naval power, was a foolish undertaking. Commander in Chief George Washington resolved the debate when he commissioned the ocean-going schooner USS Hannah to interdict British merchant ships and reported the captures to the Congress. On 13 October 1775, the Continental Congress authorized the purchase of two vessels to be armed for a cruise against British merchant ships. S. Navy; the Continental Navy achieved mixed results.
In August 1785, after the Revolutionary War had drawn to a close, Congress had sold Alliance, the last ship remaining in the Continental Navy due to a lack of funds to maintain the ship or support a navy. In 1972, the Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Elmo Zumwalt, authorized the Navy to celebrate its birthday on 13 October to honor the establishment of the Continental Navy in 1775; the United States was without a navy for nearly a decade, a state of affairs that exposed U. S. maritime merchant ships to a series of attacks by the Barbary pirates. The sole armed maritime presence between 1790 and the launching of the U. S. Navy's first warships in 1797 was the U. S. Revenue-Marine, the primary predecessor of the U. S. Coast Guard. Although the USRCS conducted operations against the pirates, their depredations far outstripped its abilities and Congress passed the Naval Act of 1794 that established a permanent standing navy on 27 March 1794; the Naval Act ordered the construction and manning of six frigates and, by October 1797, the first three were brought into service: USS United States, USS Constellation, USS Constitution.
Due to his strong posture on having a strong standing Navy during this period, John Adams is "often called the father of the American Navy". In 1798–99 the Navy was involved in an undeclared Quasi-War with France. From 18
Awards and decorations of the United States Air Force
Awards and decorations of the United States Air Force are military decorations which are issued by the Department of the Air Force to Air Force service members and members of other military branches serving under Air Force commands. Of all five branches of the United States Armed Forces, the United States Air Force maintains the highest number of active awards and decorations, including many without equivalent in any other service. United States Air Force awards were first created in 1947. At that time, Air Force members were eligible to receive most U. S. Army decorations and Air Force veterans of World War II were entitled to continue displaying World War II campaign medals. In 1962, following the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Air Force began a concentrated effort to create its own array of awards and Air Force members could no longer receive decorations of the United States Army as a matter of course. By the end of the Vietnam War, most of the modern day Air Force decorations had been established and Air Force members were entitled to receive and wear all inter-service awards and decorations.
By the start of the 21st century, the Air Force had created several new ribbons as well as an Air Force specific campaign medal known as the Air and Space Campaign Medal. In February 2006, the United States Air Force ceased issuing new awards of the Good Conduct Medal, the medal was reinstated in February 2009; the AFGCM has been back-awarded to those who were in service during the three-year break in new awards. By retroactively awarding those who deserved the medal, it is as if the medal had never been taken away. Air Force members are eligible to receive approved foreign awards and approved international decorations; the issued active Air Force decorations are as follows: Air Force Decoration for Exceptional Civilian Service: similar to the military Distinguished Service Medal. A gold-colored medal bearing the Air Force coat of arms with a wreath of laurel leaves. Ribbon is dark-blue silk with three dotted golden-orange lines in the center. Air Force Valor Award: similar to the Airman's Medal.
Gold-colored medal design bearing the Air Force thunderbolt on an equilateral triangle surmounted by the Air Force eagle perched on a scroll inscribed "Valor" within an olive wreath. Ribbon is light blue with four yellow stripes, two dark blue stripes, one red stripe in the center. Air Force Outstanding Civilian Career Service Award: similar to the military Legion of Merit. Bronze medal bearing the Air Force coat of arms with a wreath of laurel leaves. Ribbon is white trimmed in maroon with three maroon stripes in the center. Air Force Meritorious Civilian Service Award: similar to the military Meritorious Service Medal. Sterling silver medal and lapel emblem bearing the Air Force coat of arms with a wreath of laurel leaves. Lapel emblem with ruby indicates receipt of more than one Meritorious Civilian Service Award. Air Force Command Award for Valor: similar to the military Meritorious Service Medal when awarded for heroism. Sterling silver medal of the same design as the Air Force Valor Award.
Ribbon is one red stripe in the center. Air Force Exemplary Civilian Service Award: For outstanding service supporting a command mission for at least one year or a single act that contributed to command mission. Similar to the military Commendation Medal. Air Force Civilian Achievement Award: For outstanding service for a single, specific act or accomplishment in support of the unit’s mission or goals. Similar to the military Achievement Medal. Secretary of the Air Force Distinguished Public Service Award: For distinguished public service to the Air Force which translates into substantial contributions to the accomplishment of the Air Force mission; this is the highest public service award bestowed to private citizens by the Secretary of the Air Force. Chief of Staff of the Air Force Award for Exceptional Public Service: For Sustained unselfish dedication and exceptional support to the Air Force. Air Force Exceptional Service Award: For exceptional service to the United States Air Force or for an act of heroism involving voluntary risk of life.
Air Force Scroll of Appreciation: For meritorious achievement or service that are voluntary and performed as a public service or patriotic in nature. Air Force Commander's Award for Public Service: For service or achievements which contribute to the accomplishment of the mission of an Air Force activity, command, or staff agency. In 2018, as part of the Air Force's initiative to reduced directive publications, the eight-page AFI 36-2805 was released, superseding 30 previous AFIs. Guidance for special awards was moved to a website at https://access.afpc.af.mil/. Cheney Award Mackay Trophy 12 Outstanding Airmen of the Year Lance P. Sijan USAF Leadership Award USAF First Sergeant of the Year Award General and Mrs. Jerome F. O'Malley Award Joan Orr Air Force Spouse of the Year Award Koren Kolligian Jr. Trophy General Thomas D. White USAF Space Trophy General Wilbur L. Creech Maintenance Excellence Award Dr. James G. Roche Sustainment Excellence Award General Lew Allen, Jr. Trophy Lieutenant General Leo Marquez Award Brigadier General Sarah P.
Wells Award Aviator Valor Award General John P. Ju
United States Air Force
The United States Air Force is the aerial and space warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces. It is one of the five branches of the United States Armed Forces, one of the seven American uniformed services. Formed as a part of the United States Army on 1 August 1907, the USAF was established as a separate branch of the U. S. Armed Forces on 18 September 1947 with the passing of the National Security Act of 1947, it is the youngest branch of the U. S. Armed Forces, the fourth in order of precedence; the USAF is the largest and most technologically advanced air force in the world. The Air Force articulates its core missions as air and space superiority, global integrated intelligence and reconnaissance, rapid global mobility, global strike, command and control; the U. S. Air Force is a military service branch organized within the Department of the Air Force, one of the three military departments of the Department of Defense; the Air Force, through the Department of the Air Force, is headed by the civilian Secretary of the Air Force, who reports to the Secretary of Defense, is appointed by the President with Senate confirmation.
The highest-ranking military officer in the Air Force is the Chief of Staff of the Air Force, who exercises supervision over Air Force units and serves as one of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Air Force components are assigned, as directed by the Secretary of Defense, to the combatant commands, neither the Secretary of the Air Force nor the Chief of Staff of the Air Force have operational command authority over them. Along with conducting independent air and space operations, the U. S. Air Force provides air support for land and naval forces and aids in the recovery of troops in the field; as of 2017, the service operates more than 5,369 military aircraft, 406 ICBMs and 170 military satellites. It has a $161 billion budget and is the second largest service branch, with 318,415 active duty airmen, 140,169 civilian personnel, 69,200 reserve airmen, 105,700 Air National Guard airmen. According to the National Security Act of 1947, which created the USAF: In general, the United States Air Force shall include aviation forces both combat and service not otherwise assigned.
It shall be organized and equipped for prompt and sustained offensive and defensive air operations. The Air Force shall be responsible for the preparation of the air forces necessary for the effective prosecution of war except as otherwise assigned and, in accordance with integrated joint mobilization plans, for the expansion of the peacetime components of the Air Force to meet the needs of war. §8062 of Title 10 US Code defines the purpose of the USAF as: to preserve the peace and security, provide for the defense, of the United States, the Territories and possessions, any areas occupied by the United States. The stated mission of the USAF today is to "fly and win...in air and cyberspace". "The United States Air Force will be a trusted and reliable joint partner with our sister services known for integrity in all of our activities, including supporting the joint mission first and foremost. We will provide compelling air and cyber capabilities for use by the combatant commanders. We will excel as stewards of all Air Force resources in service to the American people, while providing precise and reliable Global Vigilance and Power for the nation".
The five core missions of the Air Force have not changed since the Air Force became independent in 1947, but they have evolved, are now articulated as air and space superiority, global integrated intelligence and reconnaissance, rapid global mobility, global strike, command and control. The purpose of all of these core missions is to provide, what the Air Force states as, global vigilance, global reach, global power. Air superiority is "that degree of dominance in the air battle of one force over another which permits the conduct of operations by the former and its related land, sea and special operations forces at a given time and place without prohibitive interference by the opposing force". Offensive Counterair is defined as "offensive operations to destroy, disrupt, or neutralize enemy aircraft, launch platforms, their supporting structures and systems both before and after launch, but as close to their source as possible". OCA is the preferred method of countering air and missile threats since it attempts to defeat the enemy closer to its source and enjoys the initiative.
OCA comprises attack operations, sweep and suppression/destruction of enemy air defense. Defensive Counter air is defined as "all the defensive measures designed to detect, identify and destroy or negate enemy forces attempting to penetrate or attack through friendly airspace". A major goal of DCA operations, in concert with OCA operations, is to provide an area from which forces can operate, secure from air and missile threats; the DCA mission comprises both passive defense measures. Active defense is "the employment of limited offensive action and counterattacks to deny a contested area or position to the enemy", it includes both ballistic missile defense and air-breathing threat defense, encompasses point defense, area defense, high-value airborne asset defense. Passive defense is "measures taken to reduce the probability of and to minimize the effects of damage caused by hostile action without the intention of taking the initiative", it includes warning.