10th Air Base Wing


The 10th Air Base Wing (10 ABW) is a non-flying United States Air Force unit that is the host wing for the United States Air Force Academy (USAFA) in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

10th Air Base Wing
10th Air Base Wing.png
10th Air Base Wing emblem
Active1947–1949; 1952–1994; 1994–present
Country United States
Branch United States Air Force
RoleAir Base Support
Part ofUnited States Air Force Academy
Garrison/HQUS-AirForceAcademy-Shield.svg United States Air Force Academy
Motto(s)Argus – Ceaseless Watch
EngagementsSouthwest Asia Service Streamer.png
Operation Desert Storm[1]
  • Defense of Saudi Arabia
  • Liberation and Defense of Kuwait
DecorationsUS Air Force Outstanding Unit Award - Stremer.jpg
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award[1] (13x)
Colonel Christopher Leonard
Robert Merrill Lee
10th Air Base Wing Emblem (approved 20 June 1995)[1]10th Air Base Wing.png
10 Tactical Fighter Wg emblem[note 1]10 Tactical Fighter Wg emblem.png
10th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing emblem (approved 28 June 1954)[2]10 Tactical Reconnaissance Wg emblem.png

The Wing provides all base-level support activities to the Academy. These activities include security, civil engineer, communications, logistics, military and civilian personnel, financial management, services, command post, chaplaincy, equal opportunity and the hospital, all of which support nearly 4,000 cadets and a total military community of approximately 20,000 personnel.[3]

The Wing's history dates to a celebrated World War II photographic reconnaissance group. The 10th Tactical Fighter Wing was stationed in France, West Germany, and England for over 40 years during the Cold War. During its USAFE service, the wing received seven Air Force Outstanding Unit Awards and deployed personnel and equipment to King Fahd International Airport, Saudi Arabia and fought during Operation Desert Storm in 1991.


See 10th Tactical Reconnaissance Group and RAF Alconbury for complete lineage and history
Section source: 10th ABW History[4][5]

10th Tactical Reconnaissance WingEdit

Wing RB-66B and B-57A at Spangdahlem AB, 1957

The wing was first organized as the 10th Reconnaissance Wing on 3 December 1947, at Pope Field, North Carolina as part of the experimental wing base reorganization, an Army Air Forces reorganization which assigned its operational groups and support organization to a single wing. The 10th Reconnaissance Group was the new wing's operational flying component. On 25 August 1948, the reorganization was made permanent and the wing became the 10th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing (10 TRW).

The 10th conducted training at Pope, primarily with army units at Fort Bragg President Truman's reduced 1949 defense budget required reductions in the number groups in the Air Force to 48, and the 10th was inactivated on 1 April 1949.[6]

On 10 July 1952 as a result of the United States Cold War military buildup in Europe, the 10 TRW was reactivated and assigned to NATO at Toul-Rosieres Air Base, France, absorbing the mission and equipment of the inactivating federalized 117th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing.

RF-4C Phantom of the 1st TRS, 1971

However, the base was not yet ready for jet aircraft, so only the 10th TRW Wing Headquarters was sent to Toul. The propeller-driven RB-26s of the former 112th TRS were absorbed by the 1st TRS at Toul, while the two RF-80A squadrons assigned to the 32d and 38th TRS were located at Neubiberg and Fürstenfeldbruck Air Bases near Munich, West Germany.

Ongoing construction delays in France forced the wing's transfer on 9 May 1953 to the newly completed Spangdahlem Air Base in West Germany where all the squadrons of the wing were united. The Republic RF-84F Thunderflash began to arrive in the fall of 1955, and the RF-80As were returned to the United States for Air National Guard use. Martin RB-57A Canberras replaced the World War II vintage RB-26s in 1954 to perform night reconnaissance missions. However, engine malfunctions, structural deficiencies and lack of supporting equipment and parts plagued the RB-57A, and the wing soon began to replace them with RB-66s.[7] In 1956, the 10th TRW began to transition to the RB-66 and WB-66 Destroyers, and the RF-84Fs were transferred to the 66th TRW at Phalsbourg-Bourscheid Air Base, France.

Northrop F-5E Tiger IIs of the 527th TFTAS, 1977

In 1959, France placed new limits on the type of American forces stationed on its soil. Specifically, USAF nuclear-capable aircraft were to be removed from French bases. To accommodate the French restrictions, USAFE moved the 49th TFW from Etain-Rouvres Air Base to Spangdahlem and the 10th TRW was relocated to RAF Alconbury on 20 July 1959.

With its headquarters at RAF Alconbury, the 10 TRW operated its B-66 Destroyers from RAFs Alconbury, RAF Bruntingthorpe, and RAF Chelveston. In addition, the 10th TRW frequently rotated its aircraft to Toul AB, France establishing a detachment there until France's withdrawal from NATO's integrated military in 1965. On 10 March 1964, a wing RB-66B took off from Toul for a mission over West Germany. Because of an equipment malfunction that was undetected by the crew, the plane continued its flight to East Germany and was shot down. The crew ejected safely, but was taken prisoner, although they were released before the end of the month. This incident prompted USAFE to institute a buffer zone, where special procedures were required for aircraft flying near the eastern border of West Germany.[8]

In 1965, the 10 TRW received a new airplane, the RF-4C Phantom II. The wing's mission changed slightly in 1976. It inactivated two of its three RF-4C squadrons. The 527th Tactical Fighter Training Aggressor Squadron, flying F-5E "Tiger IIs", activated at RAF Alconbury 1 April 1976, bringing a new mission to the wing. The squadron provided combat training to North Atlantic Treaty Organization forces by teaching and demonstrating soviet air tactics-under the title of Dissimilar Air Combat Tactics. The 527th flew the first "Aggressor" sortie from RAF Alconbury in May.

10th Tactical Fighter WingEdit

10th TFW Commander's A-10A Thunderbolt II, 1990

In the late 1980s, the 10 TRW experienced more dramatic changes. After 34 years with the same mission, the 10 TRW received a new one. This 1st Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron inactivated in June 1987 and its RF-4Cs left the base. On 20 August 1987, the wing was designated as the 10th Tactical Fighter Wing. During 1988, two squadrons of A-10A Thunderbolt IIs, the 509th and 511th Tactical Fighter Squadrons, arrived from RAF Bentwaters/Woodbridge. As the A-10s arrived, the 527th Aggressor Squadron moved to RAF Bentwaters.

Both A-10 flying squadrons, kept a strong close air support vigilance and remained ready to perform their mission in a contingency situation. The 511 TFS deployed to Saudi Arabia in support of Operations DESERT SHIELD/DESERT STORM from December 1990 to June 1991. The wing's A-10s played an important part in the air phase of the Gulf War, attacking tanks, Scud missiles, and other ground positions.

10th Air Base WingEdit

The 10 TFW again went through dramatic changes in the early 1990s. The wing drew down its A-10 mission, September 1991 – March 1992. Without its aircraft, the 10 TFW's mission became installation and community support for U.S. personnel at Alconbury and beyond. The wing was finally redesignated as the 10th Air Base Wing in March 1993, and inactivated October 1994.

The 10th Air Base Wing was reactivated on 1 November 1994 as the support wing for the United States Air Force Academy, Colorado.

The 10 ABW consists of more than 2,100 military, civilian and contract personnel. Its organizational structure consists of:[9]

  • 10th Medical Group
10th Aeromedical Squadron (10 AMDS)
10th Dental Squadron (10 DS)
10th Medical Operation Squadron (10 MDOS)
10th Medical Support Squadron (10 MDSS)
10th Surgical Operations Squadron (10 MSGS)
  • 10th Mission Support Group
10th Civil Engineer Squadron (10 CES)
10th Communications Squadron (10 CS)
10th Contracting Squadron (10 CONS)
10th Force Support Squadron (10 FSS)
10th Logistics Readiness Squadron (10 LRS)
10th Security Forces Squadron (10 SFS)


  • Designated as the 10th Reconnaissance Wing on 14 November 1947
Organized on 3 December 1947
Redesignated 10th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing on 25 August 1948
Inactivated on 1 April 1949
  • Activated on 10 July 1952
Redesignated 10th Tactical Fighter Wing on 20 August 1987
Redesignated 10th Air Base Wing on 31 March 1993
Inactivated on 1 November 1994
Activated on 1 November 1994