There are several air forces providing support for the ground troops
in Iraq. In addition to the U.S. Air Force (which carries out 25-30 close air
support missions a day), there are also the U.S. Army helicopter gunships, U.S.
Marine Corps gunships and jets, as well as jets from the U.S. Navy. These non-
USAF warplanes apparently supply over a hundred close air support missions a
day to the ground troops. Note that the air force only dropped 177 smart bombs
in Iraq last year, and only fired 52 Hellfire or Maverick missiles. The only
air force plane that fires the Hellfire is the Predator. Meanwhile, army and
marine helicopters fired ten times as many missiles, as well as over 10,000
70mm unguided rockets and over 10 million rounds of cannon and machine-gun
relative paucity of aerial firepower has everything to do with the rules of
engagement and the desire to minimize civilian casualties. On the ground this
pays off, although foreign media use any civilian casualty (or imagined
casualties, if they cannot find any real ones) as an indictment of trigger
happy American troops. No good deed goes unpunished.