Air Force Reserve airlift and tanker crews were flying within days of Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait in 1990.
When ground operations commenced, Air Force Reserve A-10s operated close to the front lines along with Air Force Reserve special operations and rescue forces.
A Reservist scored the first-ever A-10 air-to-air kill. When Operations Desert Shield/Storm ended, the air Force Reserve counted 23,500 Reservists mobilized with another 15,000 serving in a volunteer capacity.
The Air Force Reserve had become indistinguishable from the active force in capability; there was no difference between an Air Force Reserve pilot and an active duty pilot, or a boom operator, or loadmaster.
In the aftermath of Desert Storm, Air Force Reservists continued to serve and were heavily involved in enforcing the no-fly zone over northern and southern Iraq as well as in humanitarian relief missions to assist uprooted Iraqi Kurds. For over six years, Air Force Reserve C-130s performed these Provide Comfort missions on a rotational basis while F-16s and rescue HH-60s deployed to Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, for the no-fly operations. In 1993, when tensions mounted in Bosnia, Air Force Reserve tanker and fighter units participated in enforcing the Deny Flight no-fly zone while airlift units ensured logistical resupply.
The Air Force increasingly relied on its Air Force Reserve component for a "steady state" of daily assistance--whether it was flying airlift channel, fire fighting, aerial spray, hurricane hunter missions, or providing highly skilled medical and aeromedical personnel. As a result, Congress sought to clarify the organizational placement of the reserves. Accordingly, in February 1997, the Air Force Reserve officially became the Air Force Reserve Command, the Air Force's ninth major command.
Between March and September 1999, Air Force Reservists volunteered and were also mobilized for Allied Force operations over Serbia and Kosovo. The involuntary recall marked the ninth time the Air Force had requested a mobilization of Air Force Reserve units and personnel since 1950. In summary, Reservists provided 150,000 mandays of support that spanned the spectrum of our missions. The Air Force Reserve once again proved itself as an adaptable and capable force, ready to perform the full range of Air Force operations on an integrated and daily basis in sync with the new Air and Space Expeditionary Force (AEF) concepts.