Airman 1st Class Elizabeth N. Jacobson, an Air Force, Security Forces police woman, has been killed in the line of duty. She was killed by a Muslim coward who detonated an improvised explosive devise as Airman Jacobson was traveling in a convoy. There is a politically incorrect joke floating around about a Muslim mother showing photos of her sons to a friend and telling how her boys were all martyred for Allah.  The other women said “I understand, they blow up so young now-a-days.” Sick joke, yes, but the sad part is there are many Muslims families who truly believe their fanatical children are doing right by their God.  Their God, the God of Abraham, who is the same Christian God most of the west prays too.  So who is God happy with; the Muslim who detonated the bomb or the young airman who died?  The families of the so-called martyrs get regular payments of money for the crimes of their children.  If you follow the beliefs of the two religions, both of the dead people will arrive in heaven about the same time.  I know which one I would let in the gates.  As far as I can tell from my research, Airman Jacobson was the first Air Force cop kill in a combat zone since Vietnam.  She is also the first female cop killed in action. I can not imagine these “firsts” will help her family get through this extremely difficult time.

We have had other “cops” seriously injured in this current conflict, to include one who lost both legs and an arm, and this pain and destruction is not going to end anytime soon. This is not a debate about the US presence in Iraq; it is about how my big Air Force is using Security Forces and other none flying troops in a ground combat roll.  A little bit of history: when the flying side of the Army broke off and created the Air Force, they forgot to bring any infantry with them the protect air bases.  So in the wisdom of someone who was not an Air Force cop, it was decided to make the Air Police of the day, temporary infantry in time of conflict.  During peace time the “cops” would do cop stuff.  They would learn their perishable infantry skills and then go back to patrolling a peace time air base.  The next time a shooting war came along and the powers-to-be got worried about airplanes, the “cops’ were handed a jeep and told to “be infantry.”  Even, if they had not trained or practiced infantry tactics in years.  You can not guard planes and man entry control gates 365 days a year round-the-clock and then magically become seasoned ground pounding infantry just because the Air Force deploys you to a shooting war. 

Back in the early 1980s the Air National Guard was building 44 man air base ground defense flights.  They were designed just like an Army 44 man infantry platoon.  We had almost 50 of these flights established.  They were to be trained as infantry and deployed to defend air bases in combat zones.  The Army stepped in and cried foul, so we did away with the air base ground defense flights and gave all the manning positions to the Army.  They were supposed to build Army Military Police companies whose sole mission was to be dedicated to defending forward located air bases.  The problem is, during the 1990s draw down in size of all the branches of the US military, these positions got “misplaced” in the shuffle.  So the Air Force lost its infantry trained “cops” who were dedicated to protect air bases and the Army never created the replacements in the form of dedicated Army, air base defending assets. Now we are in a shooting war where not only is the Army unable to defend Air Force bases, they have requested the Air Force take on traditional Army convoy rolls. 

Please do not get me wrong, I am an Army trained infantry officer and I have many Army friends.  I do not want them to get hurt either, but the Air Force is not trained or equipped to handle this ground combat war away from a defended air base.  And they should not do it from a vehicle that was never designed to fight from (and survive)--the Hummer.  My condolences to Airman Jacobson’s family, I am so sorry for their loss.   

3 Oct 2005
Major Van Harl USAF Ret.