Title: Always There – A History of Air Force Combat Support
Author: O’Brien, Graham
Edition: 1st Edition
Publisher: Air Power Development Centre
Publication Date: 2009
Cover: Soft Cover without Dust Jacket – 265 pages
Comments: Combat support is the Air Force idiom for all of the support it needs to run an operational airbase. Always There traces the history of Air Force combat support from its origins in World War I through to the modern era.
The Air Force has always relied on its specialists on the ground to keep its aircraft and aircrew in the air, from communications and logistic specialists to cooks, health professionals, security and defence guards, clerks, engineers and trade specialists, commanders and many others.
During World War II they fought in every theatre from Europe to the Middle East (where they were largely forgotten), at the fall of Singapore and the bombing of Darwin. They opened new airfields in New Guinea and moved to Japan with the occupation force. Later, they supported the war in the air over Korea and in Vietnam.
In the modern Air Force they form Combat Support Group. They have operated airfields in East Timor and the Solomon Islands during periods of unrest, repaired runways on Bougainville, helped evacuate the injured from Bali after the terrorist bombings and were among the first to respond to the devastation of Aceh following the Asian tsunami. They still support Australia’s air effort in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Always There tells a part of Air Force history that is more often forgotten than told, emphasizing the varying concepts and constructs through the years, highlighting some lessons that might endure and recounting how the modern Combat Support Group came about during major Defence reforms of the 1990s and its seemingly continual involvement on operations since.