Area Air Force Base Is a Finalist

In the past the Air Force didn't offer its airmen much basic training in weapons or ground combat, maybe a half day firing a rifle. That sort of fight was left to the Army and the Marines.

But faced with a different sort of war in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Air Force has started teaching its airmen how to fight off convoy ambushes and survive shootouts. To build on that effort, the Air Force plans to open its own Common Battlefield Airmen Training Program at one of three existing bases.

The finalists are Arnold Air Force Base near Manchester, Tn.; Moody Air Force Base at Valdosta, Ga.; and Barksdale Air Force Base at Bossier City, La.

The program would provide weapons training and survival skills to more than 14,400 airmen each year, and it would create 800 permanent jobs.