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U.S. Air Force Brig Gen Dieter Bareihs, Marshall Center’s U.S. Deputy Director, talks about the past, present and future importance of the U.S. Air Force at the U.S. Air Force 71st Birthday Celebration held Sept. 18. For more photos of the Marshall Center’s Air Force birthday celebration, visit the Marshall Center Photo Gallery. (DOD photo by Karl-Heinz Wedhorn)

By Christine June
Public Affairs Office
George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies

GARMISCH-PARTENKIRCHEN, Germany (Sept. 18, 2018) —Twenty-two active-duty and former Airmen stationed at the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies celebrated the 71st birthday of the U.S. Air Force Sept. 18.

The event was an opportunity for these Airmen to honor their service and showcase the past and present achievements, and heritage of the U.S. Air Force to their German and U.S.  civilian colleagues and those from the other military branches of the U.S. Department of Defense.  

One of the highlights of the event was the U.S. Air Force traditional cutting of the cake by the most senior and junior Airmen present and a video highlighting the service of the Marshall Center Airmen.

The U.S. Air Force is the aerial warfare service branch of the U.S. Armed Forces and one of the seven American uniformed services.

As the youngest of the four branches of the Department of Defense, the U.S. Air Force was born out of the U.S. Army Air Forces in 1947 -  under the National Security Act of 1947 - with a mission set that has expanded significantly over the course of its existence. The U.S. Air Force is the largest and one of the world’s most technologically advanced air forces.

“When Stuart Symington was sworn in as the first Secretary of the Air Force, the newly created Air Force essentially had five core missions, which endure to this day,” said Bareihs, speaking to a crowd of Marshall Center Airmen, staff and faculty.

He listed these core missions: air and space superiority; intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; rapid global mobility; global strike; and, command and control.

“The names have changed a little…for instance, we weren’t thinking about space superiority in 1947, but how we execute those missions has changed a lot, and will continue to evolve in the future,” he said.

During its formative years, the service had four major components: Strategic Air Command, Tactical Air Command, Air Defense Command, and Air Mobility Command, which collectively is reflected in its “fly, fight, and win” motto.

“Today, we have high-tech things like sensor fusion, cyber, stealth, space and precision weapons, but it’s not about the stuff, it’s about our Airmen,” Bareihs. “The Airmen of today are not that different from those who served in 1947. They’re smart, innovative, determined, resilient and they exemplify our core values of integrity, service and excellence.” 

“They are what sets our Air Force apart and makes us the best Air Force in the world,” Bareihs said. “Since 1947, courageous Airmen have defined and refined how we execute our missions.  Airmen, like TSgt John Chapman who on Aug. 22 was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his extraordinary heroism during the Battle of Takur Ghar in Afghanistan in 2002.” 

Since 1947, millions of Americans have worn the Air Force uniform, and have established a superb record of valor, sacrifice and distinguished service during and after the Cold War, from the Korean conflict to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.