Expeditionary is our middle name

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Ronald L. Henry
  • 966th Airborne Air Control Squadron Commander
Expedition. "Sent on military service abroad..." -- Webster's Collegiate Dictionary 

   I know you are saying, "... great, more talk about the Airman's Manual."
   Ten years ago, "words" like "Manas" and "Bagram" were not part of our daily conversations. But, being expeditionary is an important part of our heritage. Ever since 1916 when Maj. Gen. Benjamin D. "Benny" Foulois led the first deployment of an air unit -- the 1st Aero Squadron -- into the field, the Air Force has deployed around the world supporting a variety of missions and operations, from those humanitarian in nature to combat.
   When we say "expeditionary", generally, we think in terms of Global Attack, Agile Combat Support, and Air Superiority.
   Think about it though ... is being expeditionary about the uniform you wear? Nope. Is being expeditionary about a particular Air Force Specialty Code? No way. Is being expeditionary about being a commissioned officer or enlisted? Security Forces or aviation? Definitely not.
   Being an Expeditionary Airman crosses major commands and the shifts we work. The basic fighting element of our military nature, it is a mindset and culture, like being a wingman; we live by the mentality of being expeditionary 24 hours a day. That same mentality can be justly captured with the three key principles of being an expeditionary Airman ... fitness, training and family readiness.
   Be physically fit. Worried about your PT test? You shouldn't be ... approach your level of fitness from the perspective of being prepared to handle and deal with stressors found on the ground or in the air while deployed in combat. The next time you take off around the nature trail or track, don't focus on just achieving another "75" on your annual test; set personal goals, be prepared, excel.
   Train like you are going to fight. Easier said than done, right? Best put, maintain the qualification and proficiency required to not only do your job, but to excel and to accomplish it to the best of your ability. Always look for innovative ways to improve tactics, training, and joint operations. Finally, train as though tomorrow you are going to be deployed and your wingman is counting on your very actions.
   Family readiness. Squadrons, deployments and missions come and go, but people and our families are always with us. We owe it to our families and extended families to ensure our personal affairs are in order ... always. Don't treat it as "just another checklist," but as a long term preparedness plan for your family; maintain a disciplined approach to financial readiness and solvency, long term health and family care plans, education, and legal documentation (power of attorney, will).
   With a force of more than 2.6 million active duty, Guard, and Reserve military members, personal and professional readiness is embodied in the core values of the US Air Force. From the early days of B-24 crews at Air Station 120, England to Balad Air Base, Iraq, being a diverse, expeditionary force is our culture. We are expeditionary Airmen ... and we are all AEF enablers. As a nation at war, our warrior ethos is centered on our round-the-clock expeditionary nature.
   Be ready ... prepare for the future.