|SAC Bases: Offutt
Air Force Base
Offutt’s host unit is the
55th Wing, the largest wing within the Air Force’s Air Combat Command.
Additionally, the base is home to many significant associate units, including US
Strategic Command Headquarters, the Air Force Weather Agency, the Omaha
operating location of the Defense Finance and Accounting Service, and many
Located in the heart of the nation, Offutt’s 4,000 acres reside in the
rolling hills of southeastern Nebraska, next to the city of Bellevue and just
south of Omaha. Offutt's heritage began with the construction of Fort Crook
between 1894 and 1896, some 10 miles south of Omaha and two miles west of the
Missouri River. The new fort's namesake was Maj. Gen. George Crook, a renowned
Indian fighter and Civil War hero commanded the forces that Apache War Chief
Geronimo surrendered to in 1896. Many of the original structures built on the
post before 1900, including the guard house and various enlisted and officers'
quarters, are still in use today.
The 61st Balloon Company became the first air unit to command the post
September 10, 1918. In the spring of 1921, the plowing, leveling and seeding of
260 acres of land at Fort Crook created a field suitable for frequent takeoffs
and landings, and a refueling point for military and government aircraft on
cross-country flights. The flying field was designated Offutt Field, May 10,
1924, in honor of 1st. Lt. Jarvis J. Offutt. Lieutenant Offutt was killed while
flying with the Royal Air Force in France and was Omaha's first World War I air
In late 1940, the Army Air Corps chose Fort Crook as the site for a new
bomber plant. The plant's construction included two mile-long concrete runways,
six large hangars and a huge 1.2 million square foot aircraft assembly building.
Production operations began under the Glenn L. Martin Company in January 1942,
with the plant reaching full-scale production June 8, 1942. A total of 531 B-29
Superfortresses and 1,585 B-26 Marauders were built at the Martin-Nebraska
bomber plant before the end of World War II. These aircraft include the Enola
Gay and Bock's Car, the two B-29's that dropped the atomic bombs at Hiroshima
and Nagasaki, Japan. Production ended on September 18, 1945, when the last B-29
rolled out of the assembly building.
In June 1946, the Army Air Force redesignated Fort Crook and the
Martin-Nebraska facilities as Offutt Field. Just 18 months later on Jan. 13,
1948, Offutt Field transferred to the new Department of the Air Force and became
Offutt Air Force Base. At one minute past midnight, Nov. 9, 1948, Offutt gained
international prominence when it became the host base for Headquarters,
Strategic Air Command. Air Force Secretary Stuart Symington chose to headquarter
the Air Force's crucial long range atomic strike force at Offutt primarily
because the base was centrally located on the North American continent-placing
it well beyond the existing range of potentially hostile bombers or missiles.
Headquarters SAC moved from the Martin-Nebraska complex to Building 500 in
1957. The establishment of the Joint Strategic Target Planning Staff in 1960,
the Looking Glass airborne command post in 1961. The old frontier fort underwent startling changes in the Cold War years that
followed World War II. Operations at Offutt included the basing of alert bombers
and tankers in the late 1950's and 1960's, support for intercontinental
ballistic missile sites in Nebraska and Iowa in the 1960's and worldwide
reconnaissance from the mid-1960's to the present.
The 55th SRW moved to Offutt AFB, in August 1966. That
same year the 55th’s 38th Strategic Reconnaissance Squadron assumed
responsibility for SAC’s airborne command and control system. The 2nd Airborne
Command and Control Squadron inherited this mission after activation on April 1,
1970. The 1st Airborne Command and Control Squadron, flying E-4A aircraft,
transferred to the 55th on November 1, 1975, bringing with it the
National Emergency Airborne Command Post, now called the National Airborne
Operations Center. On March 1, 1986, the 55th SRW became the host
unit at Offutt after the inactivation of the 3902nd Air Base Wing.
the activation of the Air Force Global Weather Central in 1969, and the arrival
of the National Emergency Airborne Command Post mission in 1977 further enhanced
Offutt's role as a center of military importance. Increased defense spending in
the 1980's brought additional operational improvements including a new
underground command center for Headquarters SAC.
|55th Strategic Recon Wing
||3902 Air Base Wing
Offutt's population and facilities grew dramatically to keep pace with
increased operational demands. Several new dormitories and over 2,000 family
housing units-built in the late 1950's and 1960's under incremental Wherry and
Capehart projects-quickly replaced the early quarters of Fort Crook. The former
Army outpost, once hard pressed to support a few hundred soldiers, now
accommodates a combined military and civilian work force of more than 11,000,
while supporting nearly 24,000 family members and retirees.
New base facilities in the 1960's and 1970's included a hospital, main
exchange, commissary and library. Increased defense spending in the 1980's
brought additional operational improvements including the wing's special
operations building and the Bennie L. Davis Aircraft Maintenance Complex.
Offutt faced monumental changes in 1992 when the easing of world tensions
allowed the United States to reorganize its Air Force. The Strategic Air Command
was disestablished here June 1, 1992, and the new, unified command, U.S.
Strategic Command was activated. With this historical change, the operational
control of Offutt became the responsibility of Air Combat Command, another of
the Air Force's new commands. One of nine unified warfighting commands,
USSTRATCOM is responsible for the planning, targeting, and wartime employment of
the United States’ nuclear forces.
Offutt Air Force Base is home to the United States Air
Force’s premiere reconnaissance and command-and-control operations. Among the
base’s numerous and diverse units and missions, all branches of the U.S. armed
forces are represented in a workforce that exceeds 10,000 military and civilian
personnel. The base’s fleet of RC-135, OC-135, and WC-135 aircraft are in
constant demand around the world to provide global situational awareness to
military leaders and government officials. Additionally, its E-4B aircraft
provide transport and command and control for the President, the Secretary of
Defense, and Secretary of State.
Air Force Weather Agency is a field operating agency of the Headquarters U.S.
Air Force Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Air and Space Operations,
Weather Directorate (AF/XOW). Each day, AFWA builds the world’s most
comprehensive weather database to provide forecast products to Air Force and
Army warfighters, the National Command Authorities, base and post weather
stations, the National Reconnaissance Office, and others. It was formed October
15, 1997, and is located at Offutt Air Force Base. Air Force Weather Agency was
formed as part of a reengineering effort to streamline and improve the structure
of the former Air Weather Service. This was a result of the realignment of Air
Weather Service headquarters staff from Scott AFB, Ill. and the former Air Force
Global Weather Center [Central], DOD's primary centralized weather production
facility at Offutt. AFWA is organized into a headquarters element with two
subordinate centers. Nearly 574 of the agency's 729 members are located at
Offutt AFB, Neb. AFWA is not an automated production center. It is a
computer-based operation heavily reliant on the interaction between people and
computers to produce accurate and complete services in support of operational
requirements. AFWA products and services support the war fighter, the base or
post weather station, national programs, command and control agencies and
systems, and other validated operational and planning functions. As new
requirements emerge, AFWA applies information from the central database to the
Strategic Air Command Museum
In 1959, the commander of SAC, General Thomas S. Power, authorized a
museum for SAC bombers at Offutt. Although not undertaken until the early 1970s,
the museum was a Leo A. Daly design, as was the second generation SAC Museum
completed in 1998 at an off-base site between Omaha and Lincoln (and jointly
designed with Butler Manufacturing).
The Strategic Air Command Museum moved to a new world-class facility in 1998
and houses an outstanding collection of restored aircraft, including the
Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird and the U-2. The museum is located just off of
Interstate 80 at the exit 426 interchange, midway between the Nebraska cities of
Omaha and Lincoln. The $29.5 million museum houses the 31 aircraft and 6
missiles on display. The two aircraft display hangars protect the aircraft
collection and exhibits from harsh outdoor elements.
The Museum was recently converted into the Strategic Museum,
as it now includes strategic naval exhbits.