15th Expeditionary Task Force inactivates, legacy continues

  • Published
  • By Brig. Gen. Robert Thomas
  • 15th Expeditionary Mobility Task Force
On March 20, the 15th Expeditionary Mobility Task Force here will cease its operations as the unit formally inactivates. This inactivation brings to a close the unit's legacy of world-wide rapid deployment, mobility support, and contingency response, ending nearly 75 years of mobility excellence. At the same time as 15th EMTF operations come to a halt members of this unit will likely pause to reflect upon and honor its distinguished heritage.

The unit's history predates the Air Force as an independent military branch, with Maj. Gen. James H. Doolittle serving as its first commander. Originally established as Fifteenth Air Force on Oct. 30, 1943 and later redesignated as the 15th EMTF on Oct. 1, 2003 under 18th Air Force and Air Mobility Command, the unit consists of two subordinate wings - the 615th Contingency Response Wing here and the 515th Air Mobility Operations Wing at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, HI.

Under its Fifteenth Air Force designator, the unit earned its wings in World War II, dropping more than 300,000 tons of bombs and destroying nearly 2,000 enemy aircraft and 1,600 trains. The expertise of those early flying years heralded a legacy of excellence and crisis response capability that continued as the unit evolved into a mobility task force. Dedicated to its core functions of aerial port and flight line operations, aircraft maintenance and command and control, the 15th EMTF went on to provide persistent enroute mobility support throughout the Pacific, build partnerships with partner nations in South America and the Caribbean, provide humanitarian support during times of crises like Hurricane Katrina, lend hope and comfort to thousands during the recent earthquakes in Haiti and Japan, and conduct air base operations from Iraq and Afghanistan to some of the most remote regions of the world.

Today's 15th EMTF it has a fixed presence in nearly 30 countries across one hundred thousand square miles and nine time zones. Although its capabilities have evolved to meet new challenges, the unit's overall mission of air mobility support has remained the focus of its missions. And while the unit designation has changed since its inception, the men and women who grew the 15th EMTF have always kept air mobility squarely in their sights.

Regardless of the mission, Airmen of the 15th EMTF have always been there, conducting global air mobility operations supporting contingencies, humanitarian operations, and training exercises and meeting challenges with proven, world-class expertise. Those who served in the 15th EMTF will no doubt miss being part of such a dynamic mission, but will always be part of the heritage that helped craft the modern Air Force. Although the 15th EMTF will soon come to an end with the unit's inactivation, its mission will be carried on by the men and women of the U.S. Air Force Expeditionary Center at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J.

There is little doubt that the legacy of the 15th EMTF will continue to inspire mobility Airmen as they address the challenges that lie ahead.

For more information about the upcoming inactivation ceremony, contact 424-1275.