The US Air Force (USAF) has increased the number of airmen in Afghanistan, due to an increasing reliance on airstrikes with bombs and missiles.

In 2010, the number of joint terminal attack controllers – airmen that work with soldiers to coordinate airstrikes – more than doubled to 134 from 53 in 2009.

The increasing reliance on airstrikes with the use of bombs, missiles and strafing runs, and the troops that direct them, comes as the US military has raised its troop level in Afghanistan to 100,000, including 30,000 deployed last year.

The troops that control airstrikes serve as a go-between with army commanders and pilots, coordinating bomb drops or aerial surveillance of insurgents.