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Mr. CHAMBLISS. Mr. President, this year marks the 65th anniversary of the Air Force Reserve, created by President Harry S. Truman on April 14, 1948.
Since the founding of the United States, citizens have answered the call to arms, accomplished their mission with professionalism and honor, and returned to their civilian lives to await the next call to serve.
Truman envisioned a new Reserve component to continue this tradition of service--being ready when called upon--that was founded by the Army Air Service reservists of the First World War who flew wood and canvas bi-planes.
The forerunner of our modern Air Force Reserve was authorized by the National Defense Act of 1916. Today, Air Force reservists, known as citizen airmen, perform leading roles in military operations, humanitarian crises, and disaster relief around the globe. The Air Force Reserve consists of officers, enlisted, and civil servants who are tasked by law to fill the needs of the Armed Forces wherever necessary. More than 860,000 people make up the Ready, Standby, Retired, and Active-Duty Retired Reserve. This includes 70,000 selected reservists who are ready now and serve on the frontlines of daily military operations around the globe.
The creation of the Air Force Reserve followed the birth of the Air Force itself by about 7 months earlier on September 18, 1947. The newly created Air Force had gained its independence from the Army, tracing its roots back to the Aeronautical Division of the U.S. Army's Office of the Chief Signal Officer, which took charge of military balloons and air machines in 1907.
Ten years later the first two Air Reserve units were mobilized, and one of them, the first Aero Reserve Squadron from Mineola, NY, deployed to France as the United States entered World War I in 1917. The new Air Service Reserve program provided the war effort with about 10,000 pilots who had graduated from civilian and military flying schools.
Later, reservists played a critical role in World War II when 1,500 Reserve pilots, along with 1,300 nonrated officers and 400 enlisted airmen, augmented the Army Air Corps in the war's early days. This included the legendary Jimmy Doolittle, who was ordered to Active Duty to work in Detroit to convert automobile manufacturing plants into aircraft factories and later went on to lead Doolittle's Raiders, the first American bombing attack on the Japanese mainland.
After World War II ended, the young Air Force Reserve was barely 2 years old when it mobilized nearly 147,000 reservists for the Korean War.
In the 1960s five Air Force Reserve C-124 aircraft units, along with 5,613 reservists, were mobilized for a year to support the Berlin crisis. By 1962 an additional mobilization of 14,220 reservists and 422 aircraft were supporting operations during the Cuban missile crisis.
During the Vietnam War, the Air Force Reserve provided strategic airlift as well as counterinsurgency, close air support, tactical mobility, interdiction, rescue and recovery, intelligence, medical, maintenance, aerial port and air superiority until U.S. involvement ended in 1973.
As our Nation entered a period of peace for the next few years, the Air Force Reserve periodically engaged in emergency response missions. This included the rescue of American students from Grenada in 1983, aerial refueling of strike aircraft conducting the raid on Libya in 1986, and operations to oust Panamanian dictator Manual Noriega in 1989 through 1990. Air Force reservists also supported humanitarian and disaster relief efforts, including resupply and evacuation missions in the aftermath of Hurricane Hugo in 1989. All the while, they stood ready to answer the call to arms as our Nation entered the final days of the Cold War.
More than 23 years of continuous combat operations began with Operation Desert Shield in response to Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait in 1990. In the aftermath of coalition victory, Air Force reservists continued to enforce no-fly zones over northern and southern Iraq while also performing humanitarian relief missions to assist displaced Iraqi Kurds.
In 1993 Air Force Reserve tanker, mobility, and fighter units began operations in Bosnia, and in 1999 they were also supporting Operation Allied Force over Serbia and Kosovo.
When terrorists attacked the United States on September 11, 2001, Air Force reservists responded in full force. Air Force Reserve F-16 fighter airplanes flew combat air patrols to protect American cities, while KC-135 tankers and AWACS aircraft supported security efforts.
In October 2001 Operation Enduring Freedom began as U.S. military forces entered Afghanistan to combat the Taliban and terrorist sanctuaries. In March 2003 Operation Iraqi Freedom began in order to end Saddam Hussein's regime. Air Force Reserve units and reservists played key roles in all combat operations as Air Force Reserve MC-130 Combat Talon aircraft became the first fixed-wing aircraft to penetrate Afghan airspace while Air Force Reserve F-16 crews performed the first combat missions.
In recent years citizen airmen have supported every Air Force core function and every combatant commander around the world. Air Force reservists were engaged in surge operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. They supported combat and humanitarian missions in Haiti, Libya, Japan, Mali, and the Horn of Africa. Also, they provided national disaster relief at home in the United States after Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy, the gulf oil spill, and the wildfires in the Western States.
Throughout their history, citizen airmen have volunteered unconditionally, demonstrating without fail that they were ready when needed. Since inception in 1948, the Air Force Reserve has evolved from a unit-mobilization-only force into an operational reserve that participates in missions around the globe.
From its headquarters at Robins Air Force Base in my home State of Georgia, the Air Force Reserve serves with distinction to provide for our national security on a daily basis. Spanning 6 1/2 decades--with the last 2 decades of continuous combat--the Air Force Reserve has fulfilled the promise of early air pioneers and exceeded the potential foretold by the visionaries who created it.
Congratulations to all citizen airmen, past, present, and future, on the 65th anniversary of the U.S. Air Force Reserve.
Mr. President, I suggest the absence of a quorum.
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