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An Evolving Service Modeled on the FBI

After becoming a separate service in 1947, the Air Force needed a single investigative branch to replace an inefficient mix of Army investigative functions. Founded in 1948, the new Office of Special Investigations (OSI) united a number of security-related groups. Organized similarly to the FBI, OSI's first director was a veteran FBI agent.

OSI has grown with the USAF, but its independent nature is unchanged. Though OSI is organized in alignment with USAF major commands and deploys regularly with other troops, OSI personnel operate outside the local chain of command. Reporting directly to the Air Force Inspector General in Washington, D.C., enables OSI to thoroughly investigate cases throughout the USAF. OSI agents work mainly in civilian clothes, making them more effective by keeping rank and authority separate from investigative duties. OSI investigators are federal special agents and carry badges. Their initial training is conducted alongside personnel from various federal agencies, and OSI's special agents include civilians, officers and enlisted Air Force members.

Click here to return to the OSI Overview.