10 April Los Angeles Times - Airmen Get New Skills for War.

... For a service usually stationed so far from the front lines that it has earned the sobriquet "Chair Force," some of the scenes now unfolding at the Air Force's primary training base almost seem blasphemous.

New recruits are being trained to use rifles. They are being taught hand-to-hand combat skills. They are being prepped as battlefield medics. The new regimen is part of a complete revamp of basic training ordered by Air Force commanders in somewhat belated recognition that their airmen, once sent to large isolated bases with hundreds of thousands of troops between them and enemy forces, are now regularly in harm's way.

In Iraq, the Air Force has taken over supply convoys to ease the burden on the Army and Marine Corps, and specialized forces have been used in Army-like combat patrols, conducting raids and seizing suspected insurgents outside such facilities as Balad air base, north of Baghdad. Commanders estimate that about a third of all Air Force personnel have been deployed to the Middle East and Central Asia since Sept. 11, 2001...