Murphy's Law: Fighter Pilots Soar and Seethe


June 25, 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).

There are 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.

In 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.



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