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Tactical Air Command

(U.S. Air Force photo)

(U.S. Air Force photo)

(U.S. Air Force photo)

(U.S. Air Force photo)

(U.S. Air Force photo)

(U.S. Air Force photo)

While Strategic Air Command (SAC) was expanding in the 1950s, Tactical Air Command (TAC) was doing likewise. Although many of its units had been transferred to the Far East during the Korean Conflict and others to Europe to bolster NATO, TAC had formed new units and acquired new airplanes to replace those it had lost.

In 1955 TAC developed a mobile strike capability for rapidly moving its units from the United States to any area of the world where a "brush-fire" was threatened. Named the "Composite Air Strike Force" (CASF), it included fighters for delivering both conventional and nuclear weapons, transports for airlifting men and equipment, tankers for mid-air refueling and reconnaissance planes for aerial photography. The CASF was designed to augment combat-ready units already assigned to the U.S. Air Force in Europe, the Pacific Air Force and the Alaskan Air Command.

Two years later, TAC was further strengthened when SAC no longer needed fighter planes for bomber escort and its fighter units were transferred to TAC.

The first actual employment of the CASF took place in July 1958 when the president of Lebanon called upon the United States to prevent the possible overthrow of his nation's government. Within three hours of receiving an alert, TAC had its planes on their way across the Atlantic to the Middle East. With TAC's nuclear forces in Turkey only 15 minutes away, the crisis in Lebanon gradually dissolved and the CASF returned to the United States without having to engage in a "shooting" war.

Six weeks later TAC had to send another CASF to the Far East because of a Red Chinese announcement that they intended to attack the island of Quemoy occupied by the Chinese Nationalists. In the face of the rapid reaction by U.S. forces, the Communists did not carry out their threat.

Click on the following links for more information about the Tactical Air Command.

TAC and the Berlin Crisis
TAC in the mid-1960s
TAC in the 1970s

Click here to return to the Cold War Gallery.


Find Out More
Related Fact Sheets
Strategic Air Command
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