The Confusing World of SAC Division/Wing Organization at Lincoln AFB
Simply put, U.S Air Force units at Lincoln AFB could be denoted in this scale:
Flight – Squadron – Wing/Group – Division – Air Force – Command
For instance take this organization at Lincoln Air Force Base in 1958
Delta Flight – 343rd Bomb Squadron – 307th Bomb Wing – 818th Air Division – 8th Air Force – Strategic Air Command
However there were many exceptions that were made throughout the Air Force’s time at Lincoln. Certain units that were at “squadron” level found themselves reattached later and acting under “groups”. Some “squadrons” at Lincoln didn’t report to wings but rather the division themselves. Some units as well weren’t even assigned to Strategic Air Command at Lincoln. Hopefully the entries below can clear up some of this confusion.
The names would change, missions were altered
Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, Strategic Air Command often changed missions, organizational levels and names of units. At Lincoln this was especially felt during three events.
The First was the “Deputy Commander” concept at the Wing level which re-designated certain officers as deputies reporting particular missions to the wing commander (materiel, flight, maintenance). Organizational changes were made but not much to the actual naming structure.
The Second was the “Alert” concept change of 1958-1959 when certain missions were altered. The launch of Sputnik in October 1957 spurred much of this change as SAC was forced to institute a “quick reaction” force of bombers in the face of missile attack.
818th Air Base Group changed to 818th Combat Support Group
- Gaining certain “squadron” level units such as certain Air Police, training and other units818th Air Police Squadron to 818th Combat Security Squadron
- Typical “AP” functions removed leaving a base “Security” force with a more militarized combat function in defenseThe addition of the 415th and 424th Bomb Squadrons to the 98th and 307th Bomb Wings respectively
- A fourth tactical squadron added to supplement the alert operation schedule
The Third was the “Aerospace” concept brought into SAC’s vocabulary between 1959 and 1962 with the inclusion of new strategic missile wings/squadrons
- As the 551st Strategic Missile Squadron activated and reported directly to 818th Air Division who, in turn, soon became the 818th Strategic Aerospace Division
- Missile Squadrons later reassigned to Wings, thus the 98th Bomb Wing became the 98th Strategic Aerospace Wing in January 1964
- Many squadrons themselves would change names denoting the “aerospace” concept within SAC
Squadron reporting was not uniform
Detachment 2 of 1911th Air and Airways Communication Squadron (air traffic control) was a part the 5th Weather Squadron of Military Air Transport Service (MATS) and not SAC, operated out of Base Operations building.
The 1297th Air and Airways Communications Squadron replaces the 1911-2th AACS in July 1958. It reported to MATS but did NOT report to the 5th Weather Squadron
Weather Detachment 21 (Forecasting and later radar) reports to the 5th Weather Squadron, MATS
So, weather and air traffic control
reported to Military Air Transport Service from Lincoln’s control tower/base
ops and not Strategic Air Command. Even more confusing, the 1297th AACS actually was mostly staffed with civilians working under the FAA.
1959 was big for squadron name changes
Again, due to the gaining steam of “aerospace” coming into common parlance in SAC, the following squadrons changed names. Some missions were changed as well
818th Installations Squadron (CIO) became 818th Civil Engineering Squadron
818th Motor Vehicle Squadron became 818th Transportation Squadron
818th Food Services Squadron became 818th Services Squadron
818th Operations Squadron became 818th Communications Squadron
- Some assets went to 818th Combat Support Group and 818th Headquarters Squadron (Training, Disaster Control, Base Operations)
34th Air Depot Squadron became 34th Munitions Maintenance Squadron
- Which gave a better idea of their mission, specifically handling nuclear and non-nuclear ordinance
Sometimes “Wing” missions took on mini-“Division” scale missions
Lincoln was one of the more unique cases as it was a two wing/divisional base. Many other bases provided with only one tactical wing had different assigned units. Lincoln was a one-wing station at two points in its history, 1954 and again 1965-1966. The 98th Air Base Group of 1954 was largely charged with getting a reactivated air base up to speed and provided all of the support functions as listed before (818th transportation, food service, etc.) but on a “Wing” scale. The 98th Air Base Squadron of 1965-1966 was charged with pretty much the opposite, that is preparing to close a base while still providing those services.
Naming of “groups and squadrons” was sometimes a bit deceptive
The 4120th Air Base Group of 1952 began work on the base with a handful of officers and airmen while the 818th Combat Support Group was much larger. In addition, the 4362nd “Support” Squadron was named to realistically hide the true mission of the squadron, which became known later as it was dubbed the 4362nd Post-Attack Command and Control Squadron flying airborne radio relay links for SAC after a nuclear exchange.
There were a number of smaller detachments that aren’t well known
I’ve only been able to dig so deep into unit histories, so here’s a few that are less known to me from Lincoln. I’d love some help on the subject.
818th Aircraft Support Squadron
(not a clue yet, detached from 818th HQ?)
408th Field Training Detachment
(Lincoln had an NCO school, but I believe this was something from the early 60s)
3507th USAF Recruiting Group
(I believe this to be a headquarters like unit for regional recruiting offices)
Who reported to who often changed at Lincoln
818th Air Division (and subordinate units) reported to all three of SAC’s numbered Air Forces during its lifetime (15th AF in 1954, 8th AF from 1954 to 1959, and 2nd AF from 1959 to 1966)
The 98th would later report to the 810th Strategic Aerospace Division of Minot AFB, North Dakota in 1965
And nothing was constant throughout the cold war for SAC
An interesting conversation is posted at
describing a bit of SAC’s organizational details throughout the cold war (1946 to 1992 for SAC). It appears the Vietnam conflict changed a bit of organization and of course a great deal was changed when SAC units became part of Air Combat Command and Space Command as well.