Information Warfare: Transformers Boost PJs

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July 6, 2007: Which 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 (haroldc.hutchison@gmail.com)

 


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