[Excerpt]CAMP BULLIS, Texas - A row of rumbling flatbed trucks and Humvees outfitted with
gun turrets lurches toward a mock village of cinderblock buildings where
instructors posing as insurgents wait to test the trainees' convoy protection
The training range is Army, as is the duty itself — one of the most dangerous in
Iraq these days. But the young men and women clad in camouflage and helmets
training to run and protect convoys are not Army; they're Air Force. They are
part of a small but steady stream of airmen being trained to do Army duty under
the Army chain of command, a tangible sign the Pentagon was scouring the
military to aid an Iraq force that was stretched long before President Bush
ordered 21,500 additional U.S. troops there.
"What we've seen is the Department of Defense continues to find ways to meet the
Photo: Air Force Tech Sgt.
Shawn Foust and other members
of the 424 Medium Truck Division...
requirements imposed by the commander in chief," said retired
Brig. Gen. Kevin Ryan, a senior fellow at Harvard University's Belfer Center in
the John F. Kennedy School of Government.
No plans to expand the Air Force's role in convoy operations have been announced
since Bush ordered the troop surge in Iraq, but Ryan said the Army and other
branches of service have been looking at every possible job that can be shifted
— from the Air Force performing convoy duty to the Navy setting up medical
facilities far from waterfronts.
"I can't imagine there are any jobs that they could be doing that
they aren't doing, but certainly, that doesn't mean they're not continuing to
look to find every possible instance where we can use the full military to solve
this problem and not just have this be an Army and Marine Corps issue," he
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