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NEWS | July 7, 2010

AMC unveils concept to strengthen force resilience

By 1st Lt. Kathleen Ferrero Air Mobility Command Public Affairs

"Each of us has a flame inside of us that, when made stronger, can help us withstand life's storms," said Gen. Raymond E. Johns Jr., commander of Air Mobility Command during a June 16 video teleconference with wing commanders.

To strengthen force resilience, Air Force civilians and family members, AMC launched Comprehensive Airman Fitness July 1 as a new approach to taking care of oneself and others.

"Comprehensive Airman Fitness is not a program, but an approach to better equip you to handle stress," General Johns said. "It's important to survive. But I want you to be able to thrive."

As operations tempo stays high across the Air Force, so do divorce rates, suicide rates and other negative trends. This demands more than just another program, but a new culture and way of thinking, AMC officials said. Comprehensive Airman Fitness answers that demand.

At the leadership level, changes will be made to the Community Action Information Boards and Integrated Delivery Systems, which are existing committees at every base and major command in which help agencies (such as the chapel and Airman and Family Readiness Center) already meet regularly to find better ways to address Airmen and their families' needs.

But the real change will take place among junior Airmen and their families - the bulk of the force. As people start thinking in terms of Comprehensive Airman Fitness, it will transform the culture. And cultural change is necessary to make the force more resilient.

Through Comprehensive Airman Fitness, the force can become more resilient through awareness of two principles. First, when a person behaves positively in everyday situations, it shapes how they react when tough times hit. Secondly, health is more than physical fitness: it includes mental, social and spiritual fitness.

The first Comprehensive Airman Fitness principle is based on the science of positive psychology, which shouldn't be confused with the science of positive thinking, according to Col. John Michel, who helped develop AMC Comprehensive Airman Fitness.

Positive psychology is sort of like prepping the battlefield of the mind. When tough times hit, a person's perception of what options there are at that point typically shrinks or expands, based on their outlook.

"During stressful times, it's not uncommon to face feelings of self-doubt, fear, anger and disappointment," Colonel Michel said. "When we're pushed to our own personal limits, we make a choice about how we interpret them and decide if we're going to let up or seek the possibilities in the situation."

But if that person regularly lives out positive behaviors - such as caring, committing, connecting, communicating and celebrating - then this sharpens their vision to see available options.

The second Comprehensive Airman Fitness principle is balancing mental, physical, social and spiritual fitness.

"We often view our health in compartments," said Lt. Col. John Jorgensen, AMC mental health consultant. "... But we're whole beings. To maintain or regain our health, we have to learn to become balanced as whole beings."

In today's Air Force, stress from operations tempo can quickly wear a person down. However, Comprehensive Airman Fitness helps people focus on two power factors that they can control: positive behavior and holistic fitness. It's a new approach to taking care of Airmen, civilians and family members.

"However, this isn't a new concept. The Air Force has a long-standing tradition for the quality of life it provides its members," said General Johns.

For more information about Comprehensive Airman Fitness, visit the Web site at