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"New Year's Resolution - Exercise Program"

Tinker AFB, Okla. --      The holidays have come and gone and some of us are already probably having problems sticking to our New Year's Resolutions. A lot us resolve to stick to a budget, volunteer more, eat better or exercise more. Exercising more is a particularly popular resolution a lot of us make. Whether it's to increase our physical fitness, enhance our mental outlook, improve our appearance or prepare for some event or competition, more frequent, intense exercise is probably at the top of many resolution lists.
     Exercising certainly provides all the benefits listed. Besides the physical exercise we're all familiar with, those of us who have chosen to serve our country, both in uniform and as civilians, have another opportunity to exercise. Collectively, we as an installation exercise as well and these exercises provide similar benefits to the personal exercise we engage in. Like our own personal exercise, a structured exercise regimen helps us to stay on schedule. At the Installation Exercise Program Office we've developed an exercise schedule. This schedule keeps us on track and helps us evaluate our progress and identify areas of improvement to work on. Like our own exercise program, a routine is important to ensure we not only complete the exercise, but also have an opportunity for immediate feedback to incorporate into our next exercise.
     In order to get the most out of our exercise routine we need to have the proper motivation. It can be difficult to fit exercise into our daily routine unless we understand the benefits to be gained. Similarly, if we are to benefit from a base exercise we need to get in the proper frame of mind. How do you view exercises? Do you see them as an intrusion into your "real" work or do you look at them as an opportunity to improve job performance and to ensure we're prepared for contingencies? When the base exercises, we're preparing for everything from a tornado or major accident to a production surge to support the war fighter to a major deployment of forces to a foreign country operating in austere, dangerous environments. If you think about it, this is our "real" work and why we are here.
    Similarly as our own personal exercise program sometimes prepares us for a competition such as a race or sporting event, our base exercise program helps us prepare for another competition which we call Operational Readiness Inspections. The ORI evaluates our ability to do our mission in a contingency or wartime environment. When we exercise, we are getting ready to display our readiness to perform under stressful conditions, as a runner would while running a race. Without the proper mental outlook we risk just going through the motions and "filling a square" and getting little benefit from the exercise.
     Notwithstanding the importance of exercises in preparation for an inspection, the ultimate purpose of exercising is to improve our ability and confidence when we respond to real world events. Deployments to wartime environments are a fact of life in today's military. We practice deployments continually to ensure we respond in a timely manner to the combatant commander' s request for forces. We exercise in the field to ensure we can survive and operate in a hostile environment, a particularly important competency because of the nature of today's battlefield. We practice our response to major accidents such as an aircraft accident because our business supports the inherently risky task of flying aircraft. In the past few years we have actually seen a couple minor (thankfully) aircraft accidents at Tinker. We exercise our response to natural disasters because, especially in the heart of Oklahoma, we know we face a real risk of such an event. In fact, Tinker has been hit by tornados twice in the past decade. During the response to each of the events listed, first responders and the rest of installation used skills and lessons learned from previous exercises to provide effective response to the incident. The success of the response was directly related to how well we exercised and implemented lessons learned.
     With the spring severe weather season approaching, on March 6 there will be a Natural Disaster Response Exercise focused around a simulated tornado event. We can approach this as just another exercise we have to endure or we can view it as opportunity to really prepare. Consider rededicating yourself to that "exercise" resolution you made and extending it to your work life as well.