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News | March 22, 2007

Air Force fosters "warrior ethos" in all Airmen

By Master Sgt. Mitch Gettle Air Force Print News

Whether it's the recent changes to basic military training, continual preparation for deployments, engaging in combat or new and better uniforms, Air Force leaders are instilling a warrior mindset in Airmen.

That warrior ethos -- the foundation of what it means to be an Airman -- traces its roots to the era when the Air Force first became an independent service. Since the days when bombers and fighters first soared into the wild blue yonder, Airmen have trained for or engaged in combat.

"The warrior ethos has always been a part of an Airman's character, but some people may have lost sight of it," said Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. T. Michael Moseley. "This warrior ethos exhibits a hardiness of spirit, and moral and physical courage."

FROM HERITAGE...

Understanding history is key to seeing the warrior ethos in Airmen today, General Moseley said.

"If we don't understand our history, we cannot understand the warfighting contribution that we make," General Moseley said. "During World War II, more 8th Air Force Airmen died than the total number of Marines killed in the war, and today a few people look at us as sideline watchers.

"In World War II it took hundreds of bombers to drop hundreds of thousands of bombs on a city, flying into harms way with a realization that the aircraft may not return," he explained. "Today, with the air supremacy we provide and the technology we use, we are far more lethal and effective."

The world and warfare have changed in the last 40 years and the Air Force has adapted and changed with it, he said.

"The role of the Air Force has expanded with the new domains in which we fly and fight," General Moseley said. "Precision air strikes against the enemy save American and coalition lives. Taking out a target with a precision-guided missile or bomb, versus sending troops in to take out the same target, saves valuable ground forces. We own the air that provides ground forces a measure of safety. Our Airmen use innovative measures to carry out the Air Force's mission. Our Airmen bring more to the fight today than ever in Air Force history, but we do it in a way that puts our people in less danger."

The Air Force has been in combat operations for more than 16 years, never leaving Iraqi airspace after Operation Desert Storm, and has provided continuous air superiority over that region. Airmen perform missions in the air, on the ground, in space and cyberspace that sometimes may be overlooked by the casual observer, General Moseley said.

...TO HORIZONS

Airmen "exemplify the warrior ethos in every Air Force specialty" by deploying to the corners of the Earth in support of the Air Force Mission: to fly and fight in air, space and cyberspace. Battlefield Airmen deliver expertise in ground combat environments. Space Airmen use surveillance and Global Positioning System technology to enhance warfighting capabilities. Operations Airmen carry out strategic air strikes, maintain the air bridge by moving millions of tons of cargo and thousands of personnel into and out of the AOR, and deliver fuel to the fight, all with aging equipment, he said.

"Sometimes we make it look easy, and some people ask why we need better aircraft when we make it look easy," General Moseley said. "It's really a compliment to our Airmen. Everything we accomplish revolves around educated, innovative and disciplined Airmen operating technology."

"Our Airmen's mission is global. Through our space assets we can see anything on the earth, we can conduct surveillance, we can fly there, we can hold an area at risk, and with command and control we can access situations and we can bring arms to bear if need be."

The warrior ethos is also tied to the Air Force priorities: fighting and winning the war on terrorism, developing and caring for Airmen, and recapitalizing and modernizing aging aircraft and space inventories.

"I'm frustrated that we have to fly missions using aircraft that were first delivered to us 40 or 50 years ago," General Moseley said. "So, I'm concerned about our crews flying missions in these airplanes 15 minutes from now and what they'll be flying in 15 years from now. They deserve the best equipment we can get our hands on to win our nation's wars."

General Moseley emphasized that recapitalization is about dissuading and deterring an enemy from starting the next war, as well as training Airmen for the future.

"We need to ensure that our Airmen have the best training and best equipment today and in 2020 to deter any enemy force from wanting to fight us," he said. "It is not about the machine, but about the desired effect to deter and dissuade. The point of having a far superior Air Force is to deter anyone from engaging us in combat because they know they will lose.

"If we cannot train the way we fight due to budgetary constraints or aging equipment, this can degrade the Air Force's operational and combat capability," he continued. "We have to be able to pull the trigger in training to ensure we can do it in combat."

General Moseley said it's imperative that Airmen understand that cultivating a warrior ethos drives the decisions of today's Air Force leaders.

The following are some brief examples of current and future initiatives which incorporate a Warrior Ethos:

Education and Training:
- The Air Force Academy, Officer Training School and basic military training have incorporated more warfighting skills training
- In-lieu-of training prepares Airmen for combat environments, supporting requirements where Airmen deploy to assist Army personnel

Uniform:
- A distinctive Airman Battle Uniform has been designed to help Airmen survive and win on the battlefield
- The "Heritage Jacket" has been developed as a new service dress uniform with a distinctive military design honoring Air Force heritage

Culture:
- The Air Force Memorial was dedicated as a permanent reminder of Airmen's courage, valor and sacrifice
- An Airman's Creed is being created to reinforce an Airman's service and conduct, fueled by a warrior ethos aimed at serving and defending the country, the Constitution and the people

Evaluations:
- Deployment history has been added to the officer selection brief, reinforcing the service's expeditionary nature
- Physical fitness blocks have been added to enlisted and officer performance reports stressing the importance of physical readiness

Other Initiatives:
- The Core Values Handbook is being revised to include aspects of courage, valor and sacrifice
- "Airmen's Perspective" is being added to Air Force basic doctrine, clarifying the warrior concept
- An Air Force Combat Action Medal is being created to recognize Airmen who performed honorably in combat