Infantry: February 28, 2005


The U.S. Army is not the only American military service with airborne infantry. The U.S. Air Force has found that, increasingly, it has had to send armed escorts aboard aircraft landing in remote, or unguarded, air fields. These air force security force troops look like army infantrymen, except that some of them are women. They are equipped like army infantry, with helmets, body armor and assault rifles. The air force security forces are more like army military police, which also have females in the ranks. The aircraft security teams are providing fly-away protection. This means that when the aircraft lands, at least two of the security troops get out and stand guard while the aircraft is unloaded and loaded. If the aircraft (usually a C-130) is going to stay there for a while, the security team will maintain armed guard of the aircraft around the clock. The main function of the fly-away protection is to prevent light-fingered locals from stealing cargo, or equipment, from the aircraft. This is not a new problem. As far back as World War II, when cargo aircraft first began landing in remote airfields, there were problems with local civilians helping themselves. Today, you have to be careful in Afghanistan, where outsiders are commonly sized up for their potential as easily lifted loot. In peacekeeping and disaster relief operations, theft is also a problem, with lots of desperate locals willing to grab what they can. The fly-away protection teams consist of two, four or more troops. The transport crews are also armed, and can help guard, or defend, their aircraft if needed. By being diligent about providing guards for the aircraft, the word quickly gets around that its not worth the hassle going after American transports.




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