Air Force Creates 16th Air Force
In the next month or so, the U.S. Air Force will be standing up its latest Numbered Air Force, the 16th Air Force, leaders report.
As part of the move, the Air Force selected Maj. Gen. (frocked) Timothy Haugh, USAF, to be the commander of the 16th Air Force, Air Combat Command, Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas.
Haugh, who also gets a promotion to the rank of lieutenant general, is currently serving as the commander of the 25th Air Force at San Antonio-Lackland. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper announced Gen. Haugh’s new appointment on September 18. The presidential nomination requires approval by the U.S. Senate, which is in the process of reviewing it, Gen. Mike Holmes, USAF, commander, Air Combat Command, explained to SIGNAL Magazine in an interview.
The new Numbered Air Force (NAF) gets its name from the historic 16th Air Force, which was a trailblazer in its time, Gen. Holmes noted, from the Cold War to the Balkans. “The way our naming process works is that we first go back and look at organizations from our past that are dormant,” he said. “Several years ago, we had inactivated 16th Air Force. And we believe that that name and the heritage that goes with 16th Air Force and the history was the highest rating organization that we had that was inactive. The last big fight that the 16th Air Force was in was a command that led our warfighting operations for the Air Force in the conflicts in the Balkans. They really brought some new things to bear, including some new kinetic and nonkinetic effects.”
For example, he said, it was the first combat use of the MQ-1 remotely piloted aircraft.
Today’s 16th Air Force will continue that legacy by supporting the Air Force and the U.S. Combatant Commands as far as comprehensive information warfare, Gen. Holmes stated. “We think it is a big deal to align those capabilities together within one Numbered Air Force and to align them with Air Combat Command, so that when we talk about generating combat power to provide options for our natural decision makers, we’ll be able to generate combat power, both kinetic and nonkinetic across all the things we do,” he said.
In addition to taking on the Air Force’s cyber role and providing global integrated intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance and electronic warfare, Gen. Haugh will be the Air Force’s representative to the U.S. Cyber Command. He will lead the Joint Force Headquarters Cyber Air Force, which focuses on supporting several of the Combatant Commands, including the U.S. European Command, U.S. Transportation Command and U.S. Strategic Command.
The 16th Air Force commander will also be the Air Force network operations crew manager, running all the networks that the Air Force provides at the unclassified, secret and higher classification levels. As the service’s cryptologic component commander, Gen. Haugh will support airmen that the service provides to the National Security Agency or other efforts across the intelligence community.
Last year, the service announced it was moving the 24th Air Force, which specializes in cyber operations, and its Cyber Mission from the Air Force Space Command to the Air Combat Command (ACC). Since then, the ACC has been merging those cyber components with its intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities from the 25th Air Force. Now, both will fold into the 16th Air Force and will remain stationed at San Antonio-Lackland.
The restructuring effort also brings into the new NAF the 557th Weather Wing from the 12th Air Force. The wing provides key weather intelligence to the U.S. military, the federal government and allies. “It makes sense” to pull those weather intelligence capabilities into the Information Warfare NAF, Gen. Holmes said.