The 317th Airlift Group moved from Pope AFB, North Carolina to Dyess AFB on April 1, 1997. Made up of the 39th and 40th Airlift Squadrons, 317th Operations Support Squadron, 317th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, 317th Maintenance Squadron and the 317th Maintenance Operations Squadron, the group is in the process of converting from 33 1970 era C-130H aircraft to 28 new C-130J-30 stretch version Super Hercules transport aircraft. The conversion is expected to be complete in August 2013.

The 317th was one of the first troop carrier groups formed in World War II and saw extensive service in the Pacific. A few of the group's more noteworthy achievements during the war included: the dropping of 1,800 paratroopers on Nadzab, New Guinea, in the first mass airborne assault in the Pacific theater; two paradrops during the Philippine campaign; and being assigned to the Occupation Force of Japan. These efforts earned the group two Presidential Unit Citations.

During the Berlin Airlift, the 317th transferred to Weisbaden, Germany, and made 28,830 trips into the blockaded city carrying 290,000 tons of supplies. In 1952, the group was equipped with C-119 flying Boxcars and became the first U.S. Air Force unit to be assigned to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. During one NATO exercise, the 317th flew 1,350 hours in four days, airdropping 1,450 troops into Denmark. In 1957 the group moved to Evreux-Fauville Air Base, France and began its conversion to the C-130A Hercules.

In 1964, the 317th returned to the United States for the first time since World War II. The group moved 4,042 miles in the 52 assigned C-130As with 2,722 people and 1,853 tons of equipment to Lockborne AFB, Ohio. In 1965, the group earned the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award for its participation in the Dominican Republic Airlift. The group's squadrons began rotational tours to Southeast Asia and took part in numerous combat actions, including the resupply of U.S. Marines during the siege of Khe Sanh.

From 1971 through 1993 the 317th operated out of Pope AFB, North Carolina. The 317th was the lead C-130 unit that developed and tested the Adverse Weather Delivery System (AWADS) equipment in combat operations in Southeast Asia. In 1983, the 317th led the airborne invasion of Grenada during Operation URGENT FURY inserting US Army Rangers onto the heavily defended airport. The 317th flew airdrop missions during the 1989 Operation JUST CAUSE invasion of Panama and deployed for eight months to the Middle East in 1990-1991 for Operations DESERT SHIELD, STORM and CALM, the liberation of Kuwait. In 1992, the 317th flew humanitarian airlift missions to Bosnia for Operation PROVIDE PROMISE and Somalia for Operation PROVIDE RELIEF.

At Dyess, the 317th's tradition of excellence continues. On a daily basis, the personnel of the 317th fly men and women, equipment and supplies all over the world to support the far-flung military obligations of the United States. They also take part in numerous Joint Chiefs of Staff exercises to develop and refine the skills required to respond rapidly to any contingency. In addition, the group is often involved in humanitarian disaster relief and emergency evacuation of American nationals from troubled areas of the world.

Following the terrorist attacks against the United States in September 2001 the 317th deployed to combat operations in Afghanistan in October 2001. After a brief return to Dyess AFB in October 2003 the 317th again deployed on 20 December 2003 to support Operations IRAQI and ENDURING FREEDOM operations. On 7 March 2012, the 317th surpassed 3,000 of continuous deployment in support of USCENTCOM combat operations. The 317th continued its deployment schedule in the midst of its aircraft conversion from the C-130H to C-130J as well as responding to humanitarian crisis around the world such as the Haiti earthquake of 2010.