Infantry: July 23, 2004


Some U.S. Air Force troops have been given a crash course in infantry tactics and techniques before being sent to Iraq. The U.S. Air Force doesnt emphasize weapons training for most of its personnel, but M-16s, machine-guns and other weapons are regularly issued to air force units, and there is training. This is especially true for air force personnel assigned to expeditionary units that are sent to overseas assignments. But normally, air force bases, even in out of the way Central Asian locations, are not in what are considered combat zones. Iraq turned out to be different. Air force personnel found themselves moving around in a combat zone, and had to help defend themselves. The air force has a large security force, which is trained and equipped to fight as light infantry. But in Iraq, the security troops were fully occupied doing their regular job of protecting air force bases. The air force truck drivers and other support personnel who went out in armed convoys, usually with their army counterparts, found that they were not quite ready for this. Normally, most air force personnel get to fire their rifles once every 30 months. So the air force set up special training courses in the United States and Iraq to provide refresher training. At least three weeks of weapons and convoy defense operations training was provided. Most importantly, the air force men and women fired at least six hundred rounds each from their weapons. It made a difference, for when a convoy moves out, you have to look real close (to see air force type insignia and badges on the camouflage uniforms) to tell the army and air force troops apart. This is not a large effort by the air force, as only about three hundred air force troops will undergo the special training. Most air force personnel stay on their bases, only the air force transportation troops are on the road a lot, and have to be able to defend themselves out there. 


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