United States Air Force Office of Special Investigations

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Air Force Office of Special Investigations
Air Force Office of Special Investigations.png
Air Force Office of Special Investigations emblem
USA - AF OSI Badge.png
AFOSI special agent badge
AbbreviationAFOSI or OSI
Agency overview
FormedAugust 1, 1948
Employees2,738 total (311 officers, 1,253 enlisted, 785 civilians, and 389 reservists)
Jurisdictional structure
Federal agencyUnited States
Operations jurisdictionUnited States
General nature
HeadquartersRussell-Knox Building,

Quantico, Virginia

Marine Corps Base, Quantico

Special Agents2,029
Unsworn members529
Agency executive
  • * Kirk B. Stabler (Commander)
    • Jeffrey D. Specht (Executive Director)
    • Terry L. Bullard (Vice Commander)
    • Karen F. Beirne-Flint (Command Chief)
Parent agencyDepartment of the Air Force

The United States Air Force Office of Special Investigations (AFOSI or OSI) is a U.S. federal law enforcement agency that reports directly to the Office of the Secretary of the Air Force. Operating worldwide, AFOSI provides independent criminal investigative, counterintelligence and protective service operations 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 U.S. Air Force and the Department of Defense, thereby protecting the national security of the United States.


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 Carroll, a senior FBI official and assistant to FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, as the first AFOSI commander 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.[1] As of 2007, the AFOSI has 2,900 employees.[1] After pilot training, AFOSI remains the second-most requested career choice in the U.S. Air Force for officers.[1]

AFOSI capabilities:[2]

  • 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.[clarification needed][2] 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 U.S. Air Force or the Department of Defense.


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

In addition, AFOSI has two specialized investigative divisions:

  • Office of Special Projects (PJ)
  • Office of Procurement Fraud (PF)

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 counter-intelligence 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.[3]


Several OSI agents at a US Air Force base

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.

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.[4]

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 DOD resources.

An AFOSI interview

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.

Technology protection

The desires of potential adversaries to acquire or mimic the technological advances of the U.S. 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.

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.

Defense Cyber Crime Center

The Defense Cyber Crime Center (DC3) was established as an organic entity within the Air Force Office of Special Investigations in 1998. The formation of the DC3 expanded the operational scope of the AFOSI Computer Forensic Lab, established in 1995 as the first of it's kind within the Department of Defense. 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).

Training and physical requirements[edit]

All new AFOSI special agent recruits—whether officer, enlisted, or civilian—receive their entry-level training at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Glynco, Georgia. The training requires that each recruit meet physical requirements that are located on the FLETC web site at www.fletc.gov. 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 United States 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 DOD course.[5]

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.


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[edit]

Rosario Dawson fires a M11 pistol at the firing range at Andrews Air Force Base, while researching her role in Eagle Eye.
  • In the 2008 film Eagle Eye, actress Rosario Dawson played AFOSI Special Agent Zoe Perez.[6]
  • 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.[7]

Air Force Informant Program[edit]

In December 2013, The Colorado Springs Gazette[8] reported that the OSI was operating a Confidential Informant Program at the Air Force Academy 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 OSI 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."[9]

In response, the Air Force Academy Superintendent will now have oversight of the program at the Academy. Though the Superintendent will be aware of the operations, the Office of Special Investigations will still have command and control of the program.[10]

See also[edit]

Military Criminal Investigative Organizations

Air Force

Federal law enforcement


  1. ^ a b c "Andrews AFB Website". Osi.andrews.af.mil. Archived from the original on 2013-04-24. Retrieved 2013-04-29.
  2. ^ a b "OSI Webpage". Osi.andrews.af.mil. Archived from the original on 2013-07-13. Retrieved 2013-07-04.
  3. ^ "Factsheets : Air Force Office of Special Investigations". Osi.andrews.af.mil. Archived from the original on 2010-06-13. Retrieved 2010-05-09.
  4. ^ Adam Lowther. A year later: Responding to problems in the ICBM force, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 12 February 2015.
  5. ^ "Factsheets : Air Force Special Investigations Academy". Osi.andrews.af.mil. 2007-11-08. Retrieved 2013-04-29.
  6. ^ "Airmen support new Hollywood movie 'Eagle Eye'". USAF. 2009-09-26.
  7. ^ Mirage Men (2013), retrieved 2018-09-28
  8. ^ "Honor and deception". December 1, 2013. Retrieved 2 December 2013.
  9. ^ "Stealth bombers: Air Force allegedly using snitches to catch rule-breaking cadets". Fox News. December 2, 2013. Retrieved 2 December 2013.
  10. ^ "Academy superintendent to oversee use of cadets as informants". December 5, 2013. Retrieved 9 December 2013.

External links[edit]