United States Air Force Office of Special Investigations

The U.S. Air Force Office of Special Investigations (AFOSI or OSI) is a U.S. federal law enforcement agency that reports directly to the Secretary of the Air Force. AFOSI is also a U.S. Air Force field operating agency under the administrative guidance and oversight of the Inspector General of the Air Force. By federal statute,[5][6][7] AFOSI provides independent criminal investigative, counterintelligence and protective service operations worldwide and outside of the traditional military chain of command. AFOSI proactively identifies, investigates, and neutralizes serious criminal, terrorist, and espionage threats to personnel and resources of the Air Force and the U.S. Department of Defense, thereby protecting the national security of the United States.[3]

Air Force Office of Special Investigations
Air Force Office of Special Investigations emblem[1]
Air Force Office of Special Investigations
special agent badge[2]
AbbreviationAFOSI or OSI
Agency overview
FormedAugust 1, 1948
Jurisdictional structure
Federal agencyUnited States
Operations jurisdictionUnited States
General nature
HeadquartersRussell-Knox Building, Quantico, VA
Special Agents2,000 [3]
Unsworn members1,000 [3]
Agency executives
  • Brig. Gen. Terry L. Bullard, Commander
  • Vacant, Executive Director
  • Karen F. Beirne-Flint, Command Chief
Parent agencyDepartment of the Air Force


AFOSI was founded August 1, 1948, at the suggestion of Congress to consolidate investigative activities in the Air Force. Secretary of the Air Force W. Stuart Symington created AFOSI and patterned it after the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). He appointed Special Agent Joseph F. Carroll, a senior FBI official and assistant to FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, as the first Commander of AFOSI and charged him with providing independent, unbiased and centrally directed investigations of criminal activity in the Air Force. Carroll later became the first Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency. As of 2007, AFOSI has 2,900 employees. After pilot training, AFOSI remains the second-most requested career choice in the Air Force for officers.[8]

AFOSI capabilities:[9]

  • Protect critical technologies and information
  • Detect and mitigate threats
  • Provide global specialized services
  • Conduct major criminal investigations
  • Engage foreign adversaries and threats offensively

AFOSI's Cornerstone is to vigorously solve crime, protect secrets, warn of threats, exploit intelligence opportunities, and operate in cyber.[9] AFOSI investigates a wide variety of serious offenses - espionage, terrorism, crimes against property, violence against people, larceny, computer hacking, acquisition fraud, drug use and distribution, financial misdeeds, military desertion, corruption of the contracting process, and any other illegal activity that undermines the mission of the Air Force or the DoD.

The AFOSI was the only military investigative service not to be designated a law enforcement agency when it was created in 1948.  It was not until 1976 when an AFOSI reservist noted the discrepancy and called it to the attention of command, and AFOSI quickly sought and received an official recognition and designation as an official law enforcement agency.


In addition to the AFOSI headquarters at Quantico, VA, AFOSI has eight field investigations regions. Seven of the Regions are aligned with Air Force major commands:[3]

In addition, AFOSI has several specialized investigative, training, or supporting units:[3]

  • Office of Special Projects (PJ)
  • Office of Procurement Fraud (PF)
  • Force Support Squadron (FSS)
  • U.S. Air Force Special Investigations Academy (USAFSIA)
  • Investigations, Collections, Operations Nexus (ICON) Center

While the regions serve the investigative needs of those aligned major commands, all AFOSI units and personnel remain independent of those commands. In the AFOSI chains of command each region is directly under the AFOSI headquarters. Such organizational independence is intended to ensure unbiased investigations.

The single region not aligned with a major command is Region 7, the mission of which is to provide counterintelligence and security-program management for special access programs under the Office of the Secretary of the Air Force.

At the regional level are subordinate units called field investigations squadrons, detachments, and operating locations. There are more than 255 AFOSI units worldwide including, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Iraq, Afghanistan and other Middle East locations.[10]


Threat detection

AFOSI manages offensive and defensive activities to detect, counter and destroy the effectiveness of hostile intelligence services and terrorist groups that target the Air Force. These efforts include investigating the crimes of espionage, terrorism, technology transfer and computer infiltration. This mission aspect also includes providing personal protection to senior Air Force leaders and other officials, as well as supervising an extensive antiterrorism program in geographic areas of heightened terrorist activity.[3]

Criminal investigations

The vast majority of AFOSI's investigative activities pertain to felony crimes including murder, robbery, rape, assault, major burglaries, drug use and trafficking, sex offenses, arson, black market activities, and other serious criminal activities. In January 2014, while investigating synthetic drugs abuse, AFOSI uncovered the facts of cheating on monthly proficiency exams at the 341st Missile Wing at Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana involving 79 officers.[3][11]

Economic crime investigations

A significant amount of AFOSI investigative resources are assigned to fraud (or economic crime) investigations. These include violations of the public trust involving Air Force contracting matters, appropriated and nonappropriated funds activities, computer systems, pay and allowance matters, environmental matters, acquiring and disposing of Air Force property, and major administrative irregularities. AFOSI uses fraud surveys to determine the existence, location and extent of fraud in Air Force operations or programs. It also provides briefings to base and command-level resource managers to help identify and prevent fraud involving Air Force or Department of Defense (DoD) resources.[3]

Information operations

The Air Force is now countering a global security threat to information systems. AFOSI's role in support of Information Operations recognizes future threats to the Air Force, and its response to these threats will occur in cyberspace. AFOSI's support to information operations comes in many forms. AFOSI's computer crime investigators provide rapid worldwide response to intrusions into Air Force systems.[10]

Technology protection

The desires of potential adversaries to acquire or mimic the technological advances of the Air Force have heightened the need to protect critical Air Force technologies and collateral data. The AFOSI Research and Technology Protection Program provides focused, comprehensive counterintelligence and core mission investigative services to safeguard Air Force technologies, programs, critical program information, personnel and facilities.[10]

Specialized services

AFOSI has numerous specialists who are invaluable in the successful resolution of investigations. They include technical specialists, polygraphers, behavioral scientists, computer experts and forensic advisers.[3]

Defense Cyber Crime Center

The Department of Defense Cyber Crime Center (DC3) was established as an organic entity within AFOSI in 1998. The formation of the DC3 expanded the operational scope of the AFOSI Computer Forensic Lab, established in 1995 as the first of its kind within the DoD. DC3 provides digital and multimedia forensics, cyber investigative training, research, development, test and evaluation, and cyber analytics for the following DoD mission areas: information assurance and critical infrastructure protection, law enforcement and counterintelligence, document and media exploitation, and counterterrorism. DC3 is a national cyber center and serves as the operational focal point for the Defense Industrial Base Cybersecurity and Information Assurance Program (DIB CS/IA Program).[3]

Training and physical requirements

All new AFOSI special agent recruits—whether officer, enlisted, or civilian—receive their entry-level training at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) in Glynco, Georgia. The training requires that each recruit meet various physical requirements. The candidates attend the 12-week Criminal Investigator Training Program with other federal law enforcement trainees. That course is followed by eight weeks of AFOSI agency-specific coursework, at the U.S. Air Force Special Investigations Academy (USAFSIA), co-located at FLETC. Both courses offer new agents training in firearms and other weapons, defensive tactics, forensics, surveillance and surveillance detection, antiterrorism techniques, crime scene processing, interrogations and interviews, court testimony, and military and federal law. Upon graduation, new AFOSI special agents spend a one-year probationary period in the field. Upon successful completion, some agents receive specialized training in economic crime, antiterrorism service, counterintelligence, computer crimes and other sophisticated criminal investigative capabilities. Others attend 12 weeks of technical training to acquire electronic, photographic and other skills required to perform technical surveillance countermeasures. Experienced agents selected for polygraph duties attend a 14-week Department of Defense course.[8]

Each recruit is expected to participate in each of the following exercises: flexibility, bench press, 1.5-mile (2.4 km) run/walk and agility run. All students are tested to determine their fitness level, and each test is age and gender normed. AFOSI special agents are expected to remain physically fit throughout their employment and must maintain Air Force physical fitness standards as defined by Air Force Instruction (AFI) 36-2905.[8]


AFOSI agents' primary firearm is the 9×19mm SIG Sauer P228, though other weapons are available for use depending on the needs of the mission, including the M4 and MP5. Agents may also qualify with a weapon from an approved list of manufacturers in 9mm.

In the media

  • In the 2008 film Eagle Eye, actress Rosario Dawson played AFOSI Special Agent Zoe Perez.[12]
  • In the 2013 film Mirage Men, Richard Doty, a retired AFOSI special agent, played himself in a documentary about the AFOSI investigation into UFOs between 1952 and 1969.[13]

Air Force Informant Program

In December 2013, The Colorado Springs Gazette[14] reported that AFOSI was operating a Confidential Informant Program at the U.S. Air Force Academy (USAFA), Colorado Springs, CO, which recruited cadets to gather information about other rule breakers and criminals. The program left the recruits to take responsibility for both the initial incident that got them into trouble and any subsequent rule-breaking behavior resulting from the directions of AFOSI agents. One of the cadets who participated said, "...it was effective. We got 15 convictions of drugs, two convictions of sexual assault. We were making a difference. It was motivating, especially with the sexual assaults. You could see the victims have a sense of peace."[15]

In response, the USAFA Superintendent will now have oversight of the program at the Academy. Though the Superintendent will be aware of the operations, AFOSI will still have command and control of the program.[16]

Failure to report information to the FBI

In 2017, former Airman Devin Kelley shot and killed 26 people and wounded 22 others at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, TX. According to media and a Department of Defense Inspector General report, Kelly was convicted of assault and discharged from the Air Force. This information was supposed to be reported by AFOSI to the FBI's Criminal Justice Information Services Division. Had this occurred, Kelley would have been unable to purchase a firearm legally through a Federal Firearms License (FFL). AFOSI failed to send the data four times. According to the SECAF, "the failure in reporting Kelley's criminal history was not an isolated event unique to this case or to Holloman AFB, NM, where the investigation unfolded.”[17]

  AFOSI Fallen Heroes

  • On 21 Dec 2015, four AFOSI special agents and two U.S. Air Force Security Forces members were killed by a suicide bomber near Bagram, Afghanistan, who were the following: SA Adrianna M. Vorderbruggen, SA Michael A. Cinco, SA Peter W. Taub, SA Chester J. McBride, TSgt Joseph G. Lemm, and SSgt Louis M. Bonacasa.[20][21][22][23][24][25][26]
  • On 27 Apr 2011, a single gunman opened fired, killing eight Air Force military members and an Air Force civilian contract employee at Kabul Int'l Airport, Afghanistan, which included AFOSI professional staff member MSgt Tara R. Brown.[27][28]
  • On 1 Nov 2007, three AFOSI special agents were killed when their vehicle was struck by an IED near Balad AB, Iraq, who were the following: SA Thomas Crowell, SA Nathan Schuldheiss, and SA David Wieger.[29][30][31][32]
  • On 5 Jun 2007, two AFOSI special agents were killed when their vehicle was struck by an IED near Kirkuk AB, Iraq, who were the following: SA Matthew J. Kuglics and SA Ryan A. Balmer.[33][34][35]
  • On 20 Feb 2006, SA Daniel J. Kuhlmeier was killed when his vehicle was struck by an IED near Baghdad, Iraq.[36][37]
  • On 8 Aug 04, SA Rick A. Ulbright was wounded and later died from the injuries of a rocket attack near Kirkuk AB, Iraq.[38][39]
  • On 12 Sep 1970, SA Raymond R. Round was killed by gunshots for disrupting a criminal network near U-Tapao Airfield, Thailand.[40]
  • On 10 Nov 1967, SA Lee C. Hitchcock was killed by a rocket attack near Pleiku, Vietnam.[41][42]

See also

Military Criminal Investigative Organizations

Air Force



  1. "Fact Sheets: The AFOSI Shield Emblem". U.S. Air Force. 8 Jan 2008. Retrieved 30 Dec 2018.
  2. "Fact Sheets: The AFOSI Badge". U.S. Air Force. 8 Jan 2008. Retrieved 30 Dec 2018.
  3. "Fact Sheets: Air Force Office of Special Investigations". U.S. Air Force. 4 Aug 2017. Retrieved 30 Dec 2018.
  4. "Air Force Office of Special Investigations: Units". U.S. Air Force. Retrieved 30 Dec 2018.
  5. "DOD Instruction 5505.16 Investigations by DoD Components" (PDF). Department of Defense. 23 June 2017. Retrieved 30 Dec 2018.
  6. "10 U.S.C. 2672 - Protection of buildings, grounds, property, and persons" (PDF). U.S. Government Publishing Office. 6 Jan 2006. Retrieved 30 Dec 2018.
  7. "10 U.S.C. 9027 - Civilian special agents of the Office of Special Investigations: authority to execute warrants and make arrests" (PDF). U.S. Government Publishing Office. 30 Oct 2000. Retrieved 30 Dec 2018.
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  9. "Air Force Office of Special Investigations". U.S. Air Force. Archived from the original on 13 Jul 2013. Retrieved 4 Jul 2013.
  10. "Fact Sheets: Air Force Office of Special Investigations". U.S. Air Force. Archived from the original on 13 June 2010. Retrieved 9 May 2010.
  11. Adam Lowther. A year later: Responding to problems in the ICBM force, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 12 Feb 2015.
  12. "Airmen support new Hollywood movie 'Eagle Eye'". U.S. Air Force. 26 Sep 2008.
  13. Mirage Men (2013), 22 Sep 2013, retrieved 28 Sep 2018
  14. "Air Force Academy defends use of student informants, challenges reliability of ex-cadet". Dave Philipps. 3 Dec 2013. Retrieved 3 Dec 2013.
  15. "Stealth bombers: Air Force allegedly using snitches to catch rule-breaking cadets". Fox News. 2 Dec 2013. Retrieved 2 Dec 2013.
  16. "Academy superintendent to oversee use of cadets as informants". 5 Dec 2013. Retrieved 9 Dec 2013.
  17. "Air Force failed four times to prevent the Texas church shooting; DoD IG now reviewing other services". Fox News. 7 Dec 2018. Retrieved 30 Dec 2018.
  18. "In Remembrance of Fallen AFOSI Heroes". U.S. Air Force. Retrieved 1 Jan 2019.
  19. "AFOSI Fallen Heroes". U.S. Air Force. 4 May 2017. Retrieved 1 Jan 2019.
  20. "Fallen Heroes legacy lives on at AFOSI HQ". U.S. Air Force. 16 May 2016. Retrieved 1 Jan 2019.
  21. "SA Adrianna M. Vorderbruggen" (PDF). U.S. Air Force. Retrieved 1 Jan 2019.
  22. "SA Michael A. Cinco" (PDF). U.S. Air Force. Retrieved 1 Jan 2019.
  23. "SA Peter W. Taub" (PDF). U.S. Air Force. Retrieved 1 Jan 2019.
  24. "SA Chester J. McBride" (PDF). U.S. Air Force. Retrieved 1 Jan 2019.
  25. "TSgt Joseph G. Lemm" (PDF). U.S. Air Force. Retrieved 1 Jan 2019.
  26. "SSgt Louis M. Bonacasa" (PDF). U.S. Air Force. Retrieved 1 Jan 2019.
  27. "Report: Afghan pilot wanted to 'kill Americans'". Washington Post. 17 Jan 2012. Retrieved 7 Jan 2019.
  28. "MSgt Tara R. Brown". U.S. Air Force. Retrieved 1 Jan 2019.
  29. "Air Force identifies three OSI agents killed in bombing". Stars and Stripes. 4 Nov 2007. Retrieved 7 Jan 2019.
  30. "SA Thomas Crowell" (PDF). U.S. Air Force. Retrieved 1 Jan 2019.
  31. "SA Nathan Schuldheiss". U.S. Air Force. Retrieved 1 Jan 2019.
  32. "SA David Wieger". U.S. Air Force. Retrieved 1 Jan 2019.
  33. "Final tributes paid to Airmen killed in Iraq". U.S. Air Force. 12 Jun 2007.
  34. "SA Matthew J. Kuglics". U.S. Air Force. Retrieved 1 Jan 2019.
  35. "SA Ryan A. Balmer". U.S. Air Force. Retrieved 1 Jan 2019.
  36. "Forces: U.S. & Coalition/Casualties - Special Reports". CNN. 27 Feb 2006.
  37. "SA Daniel J. Kuhlmeier". U.S. Air Force. Retrieved 1 Jan 2019.
  38. "Md. Civilian Dies in Iraqi Mortar Attack". Washington Post. 13 Aug 2004.
  39. "SA Rick A. Ulbright". U.S. Air Force. Retrieved 1 Jan 2019.
  40. "SA Raymond R. Round". U.S. Air Force. Retrieved 1 Jan 2019.
  41. "Tucson Daily Citizen: Tucson war dead". Washington Post. 24 Jan 1973.
  42. "SA Lee C. Hitcock". U.S. Air Force. Retrieved 1 Jan 2019.
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