In the fight against the Taliban and al-Qaeda, the U.S. Air Force is seekeng a few good men. Well, birds, really. Birds of prey are being sought. And that usually means falcons and the tough folks that manage them: falconers.
By Walter Pincus
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, November 3, 2008; Page A01
The U.S. Air Force, a high-tech wonder of precision missiles and pilotless surveillance drones, is looking for a few good falcons.
Live falcons, that is, ones with feathers and talons, the kind that hunt mice and small birds.
U.S. aircraft at the sprawling Bagram air base in Afghanistan are coming under increasing attack — not from al-Qaeda or Taliban fighters but from “many small songbirds, pigeons, Magpies, Hawks and Black Kites,” according to a bid request for a “bird control services” contract issued by the Army last month.
Previous attempts at controlling the birds have failed. Personnel have shot “bangers and screamers” at the birds — rockets that can travel hundreds of yards as they give off a siren-like noise, followed by a loud bang. Shotguns have been tried, too.
There were 125 bird strikes against aircraft taking off, landing or taxiing at Bagram from January through Nov. 1, a sharp increase from the 78 recorded in the same period last year, according to officials at the base. So now the military is seeking a private contractor to provide “personnel, equipment, tools, materials, supervision, falconry and other items and services necessary to perform Bird Control Services at Bagram.”