The US Air Force has always been viewed as an elite service. Even in it’s infancy as the US Army Air Corps this branch has collected the most educated recruits and transformed them into hig-tech warriors.
But with the Army and Marines over-deployment in Iraq Air Force personnel are being fed into the meat grinder.
In an effort to augment a U.S. Army strained for manpower, the Air Force has begun assigning thousands of ground personnel in combat roles to support Army operations.
The Los Angeles Times reports that some of the new roles for airmen include acting as interrogators, prison sentries and gunners on supply trucks.
In all, some 3,000 Air Force personnel are being assigned these new roles, and some are being deployed for as long as 12 months rather than four.
Air Force officials told the Times they expect to deploy another 1,000 ground personnel in combat- and combat-support roles over the next few years, but they don’t plan to make these jobs “core competencies” within the Air Force.
The U.S. Navy is also undertaking non-traditional roles. The paper said by summer the Navy expects to have retrained 3,000 to 4,000 sailors as prison guards, cargo handlers and for other jobs that have traditionally fallen to the Army.