Of all of the positive changes that have occurred since I entered the
Air Force, I’d have to say the recent overhaul of the Air Force’s
physical fitness program tops my list. As a lifelong fitness
enthusiast, one of the attractions of life in the military was the
emphasis on fitness, the physical nature of the job, and the emphasis
on teamwork whether on the fields of friendly strife or the
battlefield. Of all the visible signs that our Air Force has truly
transformed in recent years, the fitness program provides a wealth of
Through the Combat Fitness program, units across U.S. Air Forces in
Europe spend a lot of time looking at the numbers that measure the
fitness of their Airmen. When compared to the numbers a year ago, the
improvements are impressive.
Our leadership has raised their expectations of us as Airmen, and
rightfully so. The world’s most powerful Air Force should also be the
world’s most fit Air Force. But what’s even more impressive is what’s
behind the numbers.
All you have to do is go for a drive around Ramstein in the morning or
afternoon to see the transformation with your own eyes. At almost any
time of day you’ll see Airmen out running – some alone, some in small
teams and even some in formations. You’ll know they’re Airmen because
instead of wearing a random assortment of T-shirts and shorts they’ll
look like professionals in our new physical training uniform.
Perhaps the most meaningful transformation is at the level of the
individual Airman. By expecting more of our Airmen, we’re allowing them
to grow in ways they never thought possible.
I had an NCO, who grew up dreading high school gym class, come up to me
grinning ear to ear because she cut more than three minutes off her 1
1/2 mile run time. I’ve had Airmen with less than one year in the Air
Force, struggling to become proficient in their primary duties, find
the confidence they would otherwise lack, by leading their peers
through a PT session. And I’ve seen the concept of unit cohesion take
on new meaning as we eased the last Airman in our squadron out of the
poor fitness category – as much a team effort as an individual effort.
Our unit is not the exception, but the rule.
These measures of progress are happening all across the command.
So as we enter the holiday season and stare down the endless series of
potluck parties, buffet lines, long dark nights and cold dreary days,
take a moment to reflect on how far we’ve come and how far we can still
go. Don’t let your Wingman throw away a year of hard work over the
Take advantage of the fitness centers, get involved with outdoor
recreation activities coming up, and take the family on a volksmarch
through the beautiful German countryside. Be proud of the
progress we’ve made, but remember our expectations are rising – stay
fit to fight.