A challenge for past, present Airmen to uphold resiliency

  • Published
  • By Capt. Justin Billot
  • Pacific Air Forces Public Affairs
Editor's note: This is the second in a series of five articles about Pacific Air Forces Lines of Operation. LOOs guide near-term time, money and manpower investment to meet joint warfighter requirements associated with known and emerging threats and hazards.

The year was 1945. The U.S. had just concluded the two most significant military campaigns of the modern era. Following the significant reduction in military operations and in federal spending, Air Force leaders navigated the difficult necessity to reduce their personnel.

Though nearly 2 million Airmen left the Army Air Corps after the U.S. victory in World War II, bringing its total number of Airmen down to just more than 300,000, the Air Force remained committed to stability and security within the international community in spite of diminished forces and budget.

Airmen again face the distinct possibility of leaving the Air Force through voluntary programs or mandated reductions following two major conflicts.

Today's Airmen are challenged to remain resilient in the face of significant organizational changes.

"Now more than ever, we must focus on our resilient Airmen who are agonizing over tough career decisions," said Gen. Hawk Carlisle, Pacific Air Forces commander.

Resiliency is more than a buzzword, according to Col. Julie Boit, PACAF director of manpower, personnel and services.

"Airmen are the cornerstone to everything we do in this theater," she said. "Our obligation as an Air Force is to take care of our people while taking care of the mission. An important part of the job is for leaders to ensure their people are provided with timely and accurate information, and it is our duty to take personal steps to embody the traits of a resilient Airman."

According to Maria Barrows, PACAF Resilient Airmen lead, "One's personal resiliency is his or her ability to withstand, recover and grow in the face of adversity or stress."

"PACAF's Resilient Airmen Line of Operation is comprised of three broad themes: combat readiness, comprehensive fitness and awareness, and cross-cultural competency with a commitment to making responsible choices," she added.

Airmen must be combat ready, which requires Airmen to be personally and professionally prepared for operations anytime and anywhere. These operations also require a higher state of combat fitness.

Being comprehensively fit includes the mental, physical, social, and spiritual aspects of well-being.

A strong mind, healthy body and purpose are buffers to stress explained Barrows. "Moreover, the Air Force is a single community and Airmen should take care of one another to promote comprehensive fitness," she said.

The last trait, cultural competency and a commitment to responsible choices, is particularly vital to PACAF because Airmen interact with Pacific allies and partners every day. The Asia-Pacific region is a dynamic environment that includes host-nation partners, joint service members and the total force of Airmen.

"Diversity must be embraced. Everyone deserves respect and Airmen should be committed to that ideal," said Barrows.

There are specific actions all PACAF Airmen can take to prepare for organizational changes and to build personal resiliency.

"Many of our Airmen are worried about the upcoming force management programs. There will be reductions across many career fields and year groups. Nearly all of us are affected in some way. Airmen should prepare now for whatever the future may hold," said Boit.

Boit also recommends enhancing social-support networks. Family, friends, coworkers and even acquaintances help people face and overcome life's challenges. That is why it is so important for Airmen to take care of each other and be good wingmen throughout times of uncertainty, she added.

Gen. Carlisle has instructed PACAF commanders and supervisors to sit down with their Airmen to discuss career decisions, "I need you to do everything in your power to let your Airmen know where they stand, so they are able to make informed decisions," he said.

There are a number of support options available to Airmen and their families such as the Post 9/11 G.I. Bill, airmen and family readiness centers, mental health counselors, chaplains, first sergeants, health and wellness centers, family life consultants, school liaison officers and many others that can help.

"These resources are available to ensure our Airmen and their families get the help and support they need," said Boit.

Airmen from WWII to the present have answered the nation's call and faced the dynamic challenges of their time. Now is another opportunity to grow during a time of adversity and uncertainty.

"Being resilient will help ensure our people are at their absolute best to accomplish our mission in PACAF," said Boit. "I am so proud and very appreciative of our Airmen who, despite all the challenges ahead, continue to give their very best to our mission."

Airmen who remain in the Air Force beyond force management reductions will be charged with leading the best possible Air Force with fewer resources.

"We come from a long legacy of bold and innovative leaders ... we need your intelligence, leadership and innovation," said Carlisle. "At the end of the day, our asymmetric advantage over any adversary is our Airmen."