2008: While the U.S. Air Force likes to
project a macho image, mainly by featuring their 13,000 pilots, over 95 percent
of air force personnel are in support jobs, and nearly 20 percent of airmen are
female (both male and female air force troops are called "airmen.") That's over
63,000 women wearing air force blue. But over half (56 percent) of them are
officers, and about three percent of them are air crew (585 female pilots, 231
navigators, and 147 battle managers).
some 30,000 air force personnel that train with weapons regularly, and are
ready to do dangerous jobs. Most of these are security troops, but the elite of
this group are the operators that work for SOCOM, the air controllers who serve
with the infantry, and the EOD (bomb disposal) teams.
addition, over 50,000 air force personnel have served on the ground in Iraq and
Afghanistan, and hundreds have been killed or wounded. Most of those, and many
more who were unhurt, earned the new air force Combat Badge. There are
currently more enlisted personnel in the air force with combat experience, than
there are officers. This hasn't happened since World War II (when most of the
crews on bombers were sergeants.) Fighter pilots in Iraq and Afghanistan are
not happy about their orders to stay at high altitude (20,000 feet) to avoid
ground fire, while air force truck drivers and EOD technicians are down there
getting shot at.