Few Americans think of Air Force "Special Tactics" Commandos as trained and equipped to fight in a ground combat environment, when in fact, airmen are often first on the ground during airborne and special operations.
When most Americans think of the U.S. Air Force, the first images that come to mind are of supersonic fighters like the F-15 Eagle or the new F-22 Raptor. Perhaps they think of B-2 stealth bombers, the big lumbering B-52 Stratofortresses, or C-130 and C-141 cargo planes. Some may think of nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missiles, reconnaissance satellites, or super-secret subterranean command posts like the one beneath Colorado's Cheyenne Mountain. After all, aircraft, crews, and ICBMs have been the service's raison d'être since breaking free from the U.S. Army and becoming a separate branch of the U.S. armed forces on September 18, 1947.