The mission of the 1st Combat Camera Squadron is to provide the President of the United States, Secretary of Defense, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Unified Combatant Commands, and the Air Force with a directed imagery capability in support of operations and planning requirements during worldwide crises, contingencies, exercises and war.


Active duty Public Affairs Airmen, ranks E-4 through E-7, may apply to join the 1st Combat Camera Squadron through Talent Marketplace, or U.S. Air Force - MyVector (af.mil).



The 1st Combat Camera Squadron is a tenant unit at Joint Base Charleston and is the only active duty Combat Camera unit in the Air Force. The squadron is aligned under the Air Force Public Affairs Agency, a Field Operating Agency of the Secretary of the Air Force Office of Public Affairs, headquartered at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph, Texas. 1 CTCS acquires still and motion imagery in support of classified and unclassified air, sea and ground military operations. Combat Camera imagery is a fundamental tool of commanders and decision-makers throughout the Department of Defense. Its imagery provides a visual record for use in operational analysis, training, public information, and as a permanent historical record. It is a timely, accurate information resource, providing a "you are there" perspective and is essential battlefield information in support of strategic, operational and tactical mission objectives. Combat Camera Airmen are an integral part of joint exercises, contingency operations, humanitarian relief efforts and disasters of every kind. The squadron consists of technical experts from Air Force public affairs in both ground and aerial photojournalism, broadcast and video documentation as well as dedicated support professionals. 1 CTCS imagery is also archived for historical purposes and can be accessed through the Defense Media Activity at Fort Meade, Maryland.  Products are also available for download through the Defense Visual Information Distribution Service, or DVIDS.


Military and combat photography has a long and storied history that began with early images of the American Civil War commissioned by President Lincoln. In World War I, American aerial photographers flew more than 35,000 hours over enemy lines and captured over 18,000 images of enemy positions, from which 585,000 prints were made by photographic sections attached to observation groups. A more organized visual communication capability emerged in World War II with the activation of the First Motion Picture Unit in Culver City, California, in July 1942 from which several Army Air Force Combat Camera units were born.  The 1 CTCS can trace its lineage to the 1st Army Air Forces Combat Camera Unit which was constituted on Feb. 4, 1943. The unit was deactivated, re-designated and activated several times throughout the 1940s. The 1st Combat Camera unit stood up on Sept. 2, 1950, at Bolling Air Force Base, Washington, D.C. The unit was subsequently moved to Alexandria, Virginia, in January 1951 and re-designated the 1st Photographic Squadron on April 16, 1951. The unit was again deactivated on June 8, 1954.

Modern day Combat Camera Airmen trace their roots to the activation of the Aerospace Audiovisual Service in January 1966. One of AAVS’s first missions was to manage all photographic functions, except reconnaissance, in Southeast Asia, especially during the Vietnam War. "Project Combat Pix" began in October 1966, expanding the AAVS mission to include all base photo labs, combat documentation and armament recording photography in Southeast Asia. AAVS headquarters was relocated to Norton Air Force Base, California, in July 1968. On July 1, 1971, the deactivated 1st Photographic Squadron was re-designated the 1361st Photographic Squadron in Arlington, Virginia, and later, the 1361st Audiovisual Squadron on June 1, 1976.  The squadron moved to Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland in October 1988.

By the late 1980's, AAVS adopted the unofficial name "Combat Camera," and on Feb. 1, 1990, the Andrews AFB squadron was re-designated 1361st Audiovisual Squadron (Combat Camera).

AAVS was deactivated on April 1, 1992 and re-designated Air Combat Camera Service. The 1361st Audiovisual Squadron (Combat Camera) was also deactivated on this date and re-designated the 1st Combat Camera Squadron at Charleston Air Force Base, South Carolina. In 1994, AirCCS was deactivated and the 1st CTCS was aligned under the 621st Air Mobility Operations Group. In 2005, the 21st Expeditionary Mobility Task Force was activated and the 1 CTCS was realigned under it. On Oct. 1, 2007, the Visual Information career fields and functions, including Combat Camera, were merged with the Public Affairs function under the single umbrella of the Secretary of the Air Force Office of Public Affairs. The following year, on Oct. 1, 2008, four Combat Camera squadrons, three active and one reserve, were aligned under the Air Force Public Affairs Agency.  On Oct. 1, 2014, only two Air Force Combat Camera squadrons remained -- the active-duty 1 CTCS and the Air Force Reserve 4 CTCS.

Whenever, wherever there is a worldwide crisis or disaster, a contingency or wartime operation or a military exercise involving Air Force, joint or multinational services, the highly skilled professional men and women of the 1st CTCS are capturing the imagery necessary to support operational needs, combat misinformation and disinformation, and provide invaluable visual historical records. Since the 1970s, 1 CTCS missions around the world include involvement in Vietnam, Panama, Grenada, the Jonestown massacre recovery in Guyana; humanitarian aid in Somalia; Desert Storm and Desert Shield in Kuwait, Iraq and Saudi Arabia; peacekeeping and Civil Affairs efforts in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, and Kosovo; combat operations in Southwest Asia supporting Operations Iraqi Freedom, Enduring Freedom, Inherent Resolve, Resolute Support and Freedom's Sentinel in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria; coverage of DoD's humanitarian assistance in the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Harvey, Maria and Michael, earthquakes and tsunamis in the Indian Ocean, Japan, Pakistan, and Haiti, the Air Force's largest non-combatant evacuation in history of 124,000 people from Hamid Karzai International Airport, Afghanistan; and ongoing aerial coverage of Bomber Task Force missions around the world.

AFPAA Operations: afpaa.readiness.readiness@us.af.mil

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