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Air Force suspends essential training in oil-marred Gulf

By Barbara Starr, CNN Pentagon correspondent

Washington (CNN) -- The oil disaster has prompted the Air Force to suspend its parachute water survival training in Florida, a spokesman said Tuesday.

The Air Force trains its air crews at the Naval Air Station in Pensacola, according to David Smith, spokesman for the Air Education and Training Command. The program, which trains 55 students for 48 weeks a year, was suspended June 4.

It is considered essential for Air Force personnel who need survival skills in case their aircraft malfunctions or is attacked over water.

Air Force personnel will now be sent to Fairchild Air Force base in Washington state for alternative water survival training, Smith said. But it will not include parachute survival.

It is not clear how long the suspension will last or how many Air Force personnel will be affected.