The 3rd Wing is the host unit for Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska. It is
the largest and principal organization in Eleventh Air Force.
Its mission is to support and defend U.S. interests in the region and
around the world by providing units who are ready for worldwide air power
projection and a base that is capable of meeting PACOM's theater staging and
The wing trains and equips an Air Expeditionary Force lead wing comprised
of 6,700 personnel and F-15C, F-15E, E-3, C-130, and C-12 aircraft and is
able to deploy 42 F-15C, 21 F-15E, 2 E-3B, 18 C-130H, and 3 C-12F/J anywhere
in the world. The 3rd Wing also provides air superiority, surveillance,
tactical airlift, and agile combat support forces for global deployment,
while maintaining the installation for critical force-staging and throughput
operations in support of worldwide contingencies. The wing also provides
medical care for all forces in Alaska.
Operating just across the Bering Strait - a mere 44 miles from the former
Soviet Union - the 3rd Wing provides air superiority and defense for Alaska
with F-15C aircraft. The wing supports the Alaskan North American Aerospace
Defense Command Region mission and flexible alert concept by deploying
aircraft and crews to Galena and King Salmon airports periodically. These
forward operating bases allow the F-15s a quicker response time on
identifying aircraft approaching North American airspace. At Elmendorf, the
aircraft stand alert 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
In addition, the 3rd Wing supports Pacific Air Forces in the Pacific
Command area of responsibility. This mission includes the wing's F-15E
"Strike" Eagle aircraft, which fly long-range interdiction.
With its C-130H Hercules and C-12 aircraft, the wing also provides
airlift in support of two major missions: airborne training for the Army's
6th Infantry Division (Light) and airlift support for Eleventh Air Force,
including logistical support, fighter deployment support, resupply of remote
long-range radar sites and special assignment airlift missions for Alaskan
and Canadian Distant Early Warning stations.
The major operational components of the wing include three fighter
squadrons, the 12th "Dirty Dozen," 19th "Gamecocks," and the 90th
"Pair-o-Dice;" one airlift squadron, the 517th "Firebirds;" and one airborne
air control squadron, the 962nd. The fighter units are trained to actively
engage and destroy enemy air forces in either an offensive or defensive
The newest fighter squadron is the 12th, which came to Elmendorf from
Kadena Air Base, Japan, in April 2000. The 90th joined the wing in May 1991,
along with the 517th Airlift Squadron in April 1992, and the 962nd AACS in
The 3rd Tactical Fighter Wing moved to Elmendorf from Clark Air Base
December 19, 1991. In the move, the 3rd was redesignated the 3rd Wing, an
objective wing in which group commanders are responsible for specific
The 3rd Operations Group is primarily responsible for the flying mission
of the wing. It includes the 12th, 19th, and 90th Fighter Squadrons, 517th
Airlift Squadron, 962nd Airborne Air Control Squadron, an operations support
squadron and a standardization and evaluation component.
The 3rd Wing, in one form or another, has served the United States on a
continuing basis since its activation as the U.S. Army Surveillance Group on
1 July 1919. Including squadrons active in World War I (the 19th and 90th
Fighter Squadrons) the wing and its organizations have participated in
virtually every major U.S. conflict of the 20th century. The U.S. Army Air
Service emerged from World War I with three distinct missions, pursuit,
bomber, and attack/observation. These organizations became today's 1st
Fighter Wing, 2nd Bomb Wing, and 3rd Wing.
The Wing deployed six F-4Es to Turkey for Operation Desert Storm in early
1991 where they flew some of that aircraft's last combat sorties. The wing
remained at Clark AB, though treaty negotiations with the Philippines broke
down, and it was decided to move the 3rd Wing beginning in 1992-93. The Mt
Pinatubo eruption in June 1991 changed these plans and forced the wing's
hasty relocation to Elmendorf on 19 December 1991.
The wing has won five Distinguished Unit Citations, two Presidential Unit
Citations, twelve Air Force Outstanding Unit Awards (three with the combat
"V" device), 33 campaign and service streamers, and four foreign government