Air Force Office of Special Investigations, United States
The Air Force Office of Special Investigations (AFOSI) is the principal investigative service of the United States Air Force. Established in 1948, AFOSI is charged with investigating and preventing criminal activities by United States Air Force personnel, as well as by individuals outside the air force whose actions threaten the service's equipment, personnel, activities, or security. Its ranks, which numbered nearly 2,500 in 2002, include active-duty Air Force personnel, reservists, and civilians.
Then United States Secretary of the Air Force W. Stuart Symington formed AFOSI on August 1, 1948, as the result of recommendations by the United States Congress that the air force (created in 1947) consolidate its investigative activities. Symington patterned the new office after the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and appointed Special Agent Joseph Carroll, assistant to FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, as the first AFOSI chief. Symington and Carroll developed an investigative service designed to provide unbiased information and operate independent of top air force command. To this end, the AFOSI included civilian personnel from the beginning.
AFOSI is based on a fourfold mission, intended to protect the air force from dangers within and without. As stated by AFOSI itself, that mission is to (1) Detect and provide early warning of worldwide threats to the Air Force; (2) Identify and resolve crime impacting Air Force readiness or good order and discipline; (3) Combat threats to Air Force information systems and technologies; and (4) Defeat and deter fraud in the acquisition of Air Force prioritized weapons systems.
Fulfillment of the AFOSI mission. The majority of AFOSI activities are directed toward the fulfillment of the second directive listed above. Among the crimes addressed by AFOSI investigators are murder, robbery, rape, drug use and trafficking, black-market activities, and other unlawful acts committed by or against air force personnel. Economic crime, or fraud, is an area of investigation that places particularly large demands on AFOSI resources.
Additionally, the service is concerned with detecting and protecting against outside threats, activities that require investigation of espionage, terrorism, technology transfer, and computer infiltration. In line with the first directive in its mission, AFOSI personnel provide personal protection to senior air force leaders and other officials.
Within the ranks of AFOSI are also personnel with specialized missions and skills who fulfill functions ranging from that of polygrapher to computer expert to behavioral scientist. Other AFOSI agents operate within one of three antiterrorism teams, based at Lackland Air Force Base (AFB) in Texas; Ramstein AFB in Germany; and Hickham AFB in Hawaii.
Organization, personnel, and training. In addition to AFOSI headquarters, the organization has eight field investigation regions. Of these, seven are tied with major air force commands: materiel (Region 1), air combat (Region 2), air mobility (Region 3), air education and training (Region 4), United States Air Forces in Europe (Region 5), Pacific Air Forces (Region 6), and Air Force Space Command (Region8). In line with the original vision of AFOSI as an independent unit, these regions report to AFOSI headquarters and not to the relevant air force commanders. Finally, there is Region 7, which provides counterintelligence and security-program management under the direction of the Secretary of the Air Force.
As of 2002, AFOSI included more than 160 units worldwide. Its ranks numbered 2,475, with members drawn from active-duty Air Force personnel, reservists, and civilians. The vast majority—1,890 persons—were special agents bearing credentials at the federal level. Each year, the AFOSI, one of the most popular career-field choices in the United States Air Force, welcomed 230 new special agents drawn from active-duty officers and enlisted members, reservists, and civilians.
All members receive 11 weeks of training at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Glynco, Georgia, alongside trainees for other federal law enforcement services. They follow this with another six weeks of training specific to the AFOSI mission. After a one-year probationary period in the field, members typically receive additional training in their given specialties.
█ FURTHER READING:
DOD Investigation Programs: Background Data. Washington, D.C.: United States General Accounting Office, 1989.
Wilson, William. Dictionary of the United States Intelligence Services: Over 1500 Terms, Programs, and Agencies. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 1996.
Air Force Office of Special Investigations. < http://www.dtic.mil/afosi/ > (December 29, 2002).