|Secretary of the Air Force|
Frank Kendall III
since July 28, 2021
|Department of the Air Force|
(formal address in writing)
|Reports to|| Secretary of Defense |
Deputy Secretary of Defense
|Appointer||The President |
with the advice and consent of the Senate
|Term length||No fixed term|
|Precursor||Secretary of War|
|Inaugural holder||Stuart Symington|
|Formation||September 18, 1947|
|Succession||3rd in SecDef succession|
|Deputy||The Under Secretary |
(principal civilian deputy)
The Chief of Staff
The Chief of Space Operations (military deputy)
|Salary||Executive Schedule, Level II|
|Website||Office of the Secretary|
The secretary of the Air Force, sometimes referred to as the secretary of the Department of the Air Force,  (SecAF, or SAF/OS) is the head of the Department of the Air Force and the service secretary for the United States Air Force and United States Space Force. The secretary of the Air Force is a civilian appointed by the president, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate.  The secretary reports to the secretary of defense and/or the deputy secretary of defense, and is by statute responsible for and has the authority to conduct all the affairs of the Department of the Air Force.  
The secretary works closely with their civilian deputy, the under secretary of the Air Force; and their military deputies, the chief of staff of the Air Force and the chief of space operations.
The first secretary of the Air Force, Stuart Symington, was sworn in on September 18, 1947, upon the split and re-organization of the Department of War and Army Air Forces into an air military department and a military service of its own, with the enactment of the National Security Act.
On July 26, 2021 the United States Senate confirmed Frank Kendall III as the next Secretary of the Air Force. On July 28, 2021, Kendall was sworn in as the 26th Secretary of the Air Force.
The secretary is the head of the Department of the Air Force. The Department of the Air Force is defined as a Military Department.  It is not limited to the Washington headquarters staffs, rather it is an entity which includes all the components of the United States Air Force and United States Space Force, including their reserve components:
The term 'department', when used with respect to a military department, means the executive part of the department and all field headquarters, forces, reserve components, installations, activities, and functions under the control or supervision of the Secretary of the department. 
The exclusive responsibilities of the secretary of the Air Force are enumerated in 10 U.S.C. § 9013(b) of the United States Code. They include, but are not limited to:
(4) Equipping (including research and development).
(9) Administering (including the morale and welfare of personnel).
(11) The construction, outfitting, and repair of military equipment.
(12) The construction, maintenance, and repair of buildings, structures, and utilities and the acquisition of real property and interests in real property necessary to carry out the responsibilities specified in this section. 
By direction of the secretary of defense, the secretary of the Air Force assigns military units of the Air Force and Space Force, other than those who carry out the functions listed in 10 U.S.C. § 9013(b) , to the Unified and Specified Combatant Commands to perform missions assigned to those commands. Air Force and Space Force units while assigned to Combatant Commands may only be reassigned by authority of the secretary of defense. 
However, the chain of command for Air Force and Space Force units for other purposes than the operational direction goes from the president to the secretary of defense to the secretary of the Air Force to the commanders of Air Force and Space Force Commands.  Air Force and Space Force officers have to report on any matter to the secretary, or the secretary's designate, when requested. The secretary has the authority to detail, prescribe the duties, and to assign Air Force and Space Force service members and civilian employees, and may also change the title of any activity not statutorily designated.  The secretary has several responsibilities under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) with respect to Air Force and Space Force service members, including the authority to convene general courts martial and to commute sentences.
The secretary of the Air Force may also be assigned additional responsibilities by the president or the secretary of defense,  e.g. the secretary is designated as the "DoD Executive Agent for Space", and as such:
... shall develop, coordinate, and integrate plans and programs for space systems and the acquisition of DoD Space Major Defense Acquisition Programs to provide operational space force capabilities to ensure the United States has the space power to achieve its national security objectives.  
|Parent agency||Department of the Air Force|
The secretary of the Air Force's principal staff element, the Office of the Secretary of the Air Force, has responsibility for acquisition and auditing, comptroller issues (including financial management), inspector general matters, legislative affairs, and public affairs within the Department of the Air Force. The Office of the Secretary of the Air Force is one of the Department of the Air Force's three headquarter staffs at the seat of government, with the others being the Air Staff and the Office of the Chief of Space Operations .
The Office of the Secretary of the Air Force is composed of:
|No.||Image||Name||Term of office||Secretary of Defense||Appointed by President|
|Began||Ended||Days of service|
|1||W. Stuart Symington||September 18, 1947||April 24, 1950||949|| James Forrestal |
|Harry S. Truman|
|2||Thomas K. Finletter||April 24, 1950||January 20, 1953||1002||Louis Johnson|
|3||Harold E. Talbott||February 4, 1953||August 13, 1955||920||Charles Wilson||Dwight D. Eisenhower|
|4||Donald A. Quarles||August 15, 1955||April 30, 1957||624|
|5||James H. Douglas, Jr.||May 1, 1957||December 10, 1959||953||Charles Wilson|
|6||Dudley C. Sharp||December 11, 1959||January 20, 1961||406||Thomas Gates|
|7||Eugene M. Zuckert||January 24, 1961||September 30, 1965||1710||Robert McNamara||John F. Kennedy|
|8||Harold Brown||October 1, 1965||February 15, 1969||1233||Robert McNamara|
|Lyndon B. Johnson|
|9||Robert C. Seamans, Jr.||February 15, 1969||May 15, 1973||1550||Mel Laird|
|Richard M. Nixon|
|Acting||John L. McLucas||May 15, 1973||July 18, 1973||64||Elliot Richardson|
Bill Clements Acting
|10||July 18, 1973||November 23, 1975||858||James Schlesinger|
|Acting||James W. Plummer||November 24, 1975||January 1, 1976||38||Donald Rumsfeld||Gerald Ford|
|11||Thomas C. Reed||January 2, 1976||April 6, 1977||460||Donald Rumsfeld|
|12||John C. Stetson||April 6, 1977||May 18, 1979||772||Harold Brown||Jimmy Carter|
|Acting||Hans Mark||May 18, 1979||July 26, 1979||69|
|13||July 26, 1979||February 9, 1981||564||Harold Brown|
|14||Verne Orr||February 9, 1981||November 30, 1985||1755||Caspar Weinberger||Ronald Reagan|
|15||Russell A. Rourke||December 9, 1985||April 6, 1986||118|
|Acting||Edward C. Aldridge Jr.||April 6, 1986||June 8, 1986||63|
|16||June 9, 1986||December 16, 1988||921||Caspar Weinberger|
|Acting||James F. McGovern||December 16, 1988||April 29, 1989||134||Frank Carlucci|
William Howard Taft IV Acting
|Acting||John J. Welch, Jr.||April 29, 1989||May 21, 1989||22||Dick Cheney||George H. W. Bush|
|17||Donald B. Rice||May 21, 1989||January 20, 1993||1340|
|Acting||Michael B. Donley||January 20, 1993||July 13, 1993||174||Les Aspin||Bill Clinton|
|Acting||Merrill A. McPeak||July 14, 1993||August 5, 1993||22|
|18||Sheila E. Widnall||August 6, 1993||October 31, 1997||1547||Les Aspin|
|Acting||F. Whitten Peters||November 1, 1997||July 30, 1999||636||William Cohen|
|19||July 30, 1999||January 20, 2001||540|
|Acting||Lawrence J. Delaney||January 21, 2001||May 31, 2001||130||Donald Rumsfeld||George W. Bush|
|20||James G. Roche||June 1, 2001||January 20, 2005||1329|
|Acting||Peter B. Teets||January 20, 2005||March 25, 2005||64|
|Acting||Michael Montelongo||March 25, 2005||March 28, 2005||3|
|Acting||Michael L. Dominguez||March 28, 2005||July 29, 2005||123|
|Acting||Pete Geren ||July 29, 2005||November 4, 2005||98|
|21||Michael Wynne||November 4, 2005||June 20, 2008 ||959||Donald Rumsfeld|
|Acting||Michael B. Donley||June 21, 2008 ||October 2, 2008||103 days|| Robert Gates |
|22||October 2, 2008||June 21, 2013||1723|
|Acting||Eric Fanning||June 21, 2013||December 20, 2013||182 days|| Chuck Hagel |
|23||Deborah Lee James||December 20, 2013||January 20, 2017||3 years, 31 days|
|–|| Lisa Disbrow |
|January 20, 2017||May 16, 2017||116 days|| Jim Mattis |
Patrick M. Shanahan Acting
|24||Heather Wilson||May 16, 2017||May 31, 2019||2 years, 15 days|
|–|| Matthew Donovan |
|June 1, 2019||October 18, 2019||139 days|| Patrick M. Shanahan Acting|
Mark Esper Acting
Richard V. Spencer Acting
|25||Barbara Barrett||October 18, 2019||January 20, 2021||1 year, 94 days|| Mark Esper |
Christopher C. Miller Acting
|–|| John P. Roth |
|January 20, 2021||July 28, 2021||189 days|| David Norquist Acting|
|26||Frank Kendall III ||July 28, 2021||Present||1 year, 72 days||Lloyd Austin|
The United States Armed Forces are the military forces of the United States. The armed forces consists of six service branches: the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, Space Force, and Coast Guard. The president of the United States is the commander-in-chief of the armed forces and forms military policy with the Department of Defense (DoD) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS), both federal executive departments, acting as the principal organs by which military policy is carried out. All six armed services are among the eight uniformed services of the United States.
The United States secretary of defense (SecDef) is the head of the United States Department of Defense, the executive department of the U.S. Armed Forces, and is a high ranking member of the federal cabinet. The secretary of defense's position of command and authority over the military is second only to that of the president of the United States, who is the commander-in-chief. This position corresponds to what is generally known as a defense minister in many other countries. The secretary of defense is appointed by the president with the advice and consent of the Senate, and is by custom a member of the Cabinet and by law a member of the National Security Council.
The Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) is the body of the most senior uniformed leaders within the United States Department of Defense, that advises the president of the United States, the secretary of defense, the Homeland Security Council and the National Security Council on military matters. The composition of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is defined by statute and consists of a chairman (CJCS), a vice chairman (VJCS), the service chiefs of the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, Space Force, and the chief of the National Guard Bureau. Each of the individual service chiefs, outside their JCS obligations, work directly under the secretaries of their respective military departments, e.g. the secretary of the Army, the secretary of the Navy, and the secretary of the Air Force.
The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (CJCS) is the presiding officer of the United States Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS). The chairman is the highest-ranking and most senior military officer in the United States Armed Forces and the principal military advisor to the president, the National Security Council, the Homeland Security Council, and the secretary of defense. While the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff outranks all other commissioned officers, the chairman is prohibited by law from having operational command authority over the armed forces; however, the chairman assists the president and the secretary of defense in exercising their command functions.
The chief of staff of the Army (CSA) is a statutory position in the United States Army held by a general officer. As the highest-ranking officer assigned to serve in the Department of the Army, the chief is the principal military advisor and a deputy to the secretary of the Army. In a separate capacity, the CSA is a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and, thereby, a military advisor to the National Security Council, the secretary of defense, and the president of the United States. The CSA is typically the highest-ranking officer on active duty in the U.S. Army unless the chairman or the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff are Army officers.
The Goldwater–Nichols Department of Defense Reorganization Act of October 4, 1986Pub.L. 99–433,, made the most sweeping changes to the United States Department of Defense since the department was established in the National Security Act of 1947 by reworking the command structure of the U.S. military. It increased the powers of the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and implemented some of the suggestions from the Packard Commission, commissioned by President Reagan in 1985. Among other changes, Goldwater–Nichols streamlined the military chain of command, which now runs from the president through the secretary of defense directly to combatant commanders, bypassing the service chiefs. The service chiefs were assigned to an advisory role to the president and the secretary of defense, and given the responsibility for training and equipping personnel for the unified combatant commands.
The United States Department of the Army (DA) is one of the three military departments within the Department of Defense of the U.S. The Department of the Army is the federal government agency within which the United States Army (U.S.) is organized, and it is led by the secretary of the Army, who has statutory authority under 10 United States Code § 3013 to conduct its affairs and to prescribe regulations for its government, subject to the limits of the law, and the directions of the secretary of defense and the president.
The United States Department of the Air Force (DAF) is one of the three military departments within the Department of Defense of the United States of America. The Department of the Air Force was formed on September 18, 1947, per the National Security Act of 1947 and it is the military department within which the United States Air Force and the United States Space Force are organized.
The vice chief of naval operations (VCNO) is the second highest-ranking commissioned United States Navy officer in the Department of the Navy and functions as the principal deputy of the chief of naval operations and by statute, the vice chief is appointed as a four-star admiral.
A unified combatant command (CCMD), also referred to as a combatant command, is a joint military command of the United States Department of Defense that is composed of units from two or more service branches of the United States Armed Forces, and conducts broad and continuing missions. There are currently 11 unified combatant commands and each are established as the highest echelons of military commands, in order to provide effective command and control of all U.S. military forces, regardless of branch of service, during peace or during war time. Unified combatant commands are organized either on a geographical basis or on a functional basis, e.g. special operations, force projection, transport, and cybersecurity. Currently, seven combatant commands are designated as geographical, and four are designated as functional. Unified combatant commands are "joint" commands and have specific badges denoting their affiliation.
In the United States military, a general is the most senior general-grade officer; it is the highest achievable commissioned officer rank that may be attained in the United States Armed Forces, with exception of the Navy and Coast Guard, which have the equivalent rank of admiral instead. The official and formal insignia of "general" is defined by its four stars.
In the United States Armed Forces, a lieutenant general is a three-star general officer in the United States Army, Marine Corps, Air Force, and Space Force.
The United States Department of Defense is an executive branch department of the federal government charged with coordinating and supervising all agencies and functions of the government directly related to national security and the United States Armed Forces. The DOD is the largest employer in the world, with over 1.4 million active-duty service members as of 2021. More employees include over 826,000 National Guard and reservists from the armed forces, and over 732,000 civilians bringing the total to over 2.8 million employees. Headquartered at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, just outside Washington, D.C., the DoD's stated mission is to provide "the military forces needed to deter war and ensure our nation's security".
The structure of the United States Air Force refers to the unit designators and organizational hierarchy of the United States Air Force, which starts at the most senior commands.
The United States Department of Defense (DoD) has a complex organizational structure. It includes the Army, Navy, the Marine Corps, Air Force, Space Force, the Unified combatant commands, U.S. elements of multinational commands, as well as non-combat agencies such as the Defense Intelligence Agency and the National Security Agency. The DoD's annual budget was roughly US$496.1 billion in 2015. This figure is the base amount and does not include the $64.3 billion spent on "War/Non-War Supplementals". Including those items brings the total to $560.6 billion for 2015.
The United States Space Force is organized by different units: the Space Staff, the field commands, and the space deltas.
The Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Space Acquisition and Integration (SAF/SQ) is a civilian position in the United States Department of the Air Force that is appointed by the president of the United States and confirmed by the United States Senate. This position is established under Title 10 US Code Section 9016. The assistant secretary reports to the secretary of the Air Force.
While the United States Space Force gained its independence on 20 December 2019, the history of the United States Space Force can be traced back to the beginnings of the military space program following the conclusion of the Second World War in 1945. Early military space development was begun within the United States Army Air Forces by General Henry H. Arnold, who identified space as a crucial military arena decades before the first spaceflight. Gaining its independence from the Army on 18 September 1947, the United States Air Force began development of military space and ballistic missile programs, while also competing with the United States Army and United States Navy for the space mission.