July 6, 2007:
recent movie has the most accurate depiction of military life, particularly in
the Air Force? The answer appears to be Transformers, a sci-fi film featuring
alien robots. Surprised? Not really. In essence, this movie not only provided a
positive portrayal of the U.S. Air Force, it showed parts of the Air Force that
have never received much press - or glory. The Air Force has, in essence,
managed to spotlight some of its lesser-known units - units valuable in the
global war on terror.
The film featured a
number of Air Force combat controllers. These personnel often work with special
operations units - calling in strikes from behind enemy lines. In essence, they
often make possible many of the videos featuring smart bombs hitting their
targets with spectacular results. It is a side of the Air Force not often
discussed among that service's inter-service rivals.
Another Air Force special
operations unit is the pararescuemen. The "PJs", as they are known,
assist in search-and-rescue missions, often carrying over 150 pounds of
equipment. These personnel have taken part in numerous missions in the years
since they were founded in 1943, including
rescuing victims of the 1989 earthquake in San Francisco.
Air Force Special
Operations Command also features some of the most advanced aircraft in the
world. This includes the CV-22 Osprey - a variant of the tilt-rotor aircraft
that was designed to supplement the MH-53 helicopters and MC-130 special
operations planes. Another aircraft that got some air time was the AC-130
Spectre, a gunship that carries 25mm, 40mm, and 105mm guns - and which is being
modernized with 30mm guns to replace the 25mm and 40mm guns.
So, why would the Air
Force detail 300 personnel and a number of its rare special operations aircraft
to the film? The answer lies in the public relations side - in essence, the Air
Force is displaying to the American people how it is relevant in the global war
on terror. This is going to give it a bit of a leg up in budget battles with
that service's real enemies (the Army, Navy, and Marines) as well, by showing
that the Air Force is relevant.
All in all, the success
of this film will not only make a lot of money for a movie studio, it will also
give the United States Air Force help when Congress starts deciding the Air
Force's budget. In essence, the Air Force has scored a public relations coup -
and will reap the rewards. - Harold C. Hutchison (firstname.lastname@example.org)