Airman Up!

"Airman Up!" is a new campaign, lead by Col. Stephen Jost, 20th Fighter Wing commander, focused on empowering Airmen to improve themselves. Through resiliency and personal development, "Airman Up!" challenges Airmen to be better today than they were yesterday. (U.S. Air Force illustration by Senior Airman Jensen Stidham/Released)

"Airman Up!" is a new campaign, lead by Col. Stephen Jost, 20th Fighter Wing commander, focused on empowering Airmen to improve themselves. Through resiliency and personal development, "Airman Up!" challenges Airmen to be better today than they were yesterday. (U.S. Air Force illustration by Senior Airman Jensen Stidham/Released)

SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. -- So what's this "Airman Up!" thing all about? Well folks, it's probably easier to tell you what it's not than what it is because it is intended to mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people, but I'll give it a try. 

In short, Airman Up! is a campaign focused on empowering Airmen, with the help of their supervisors, to take responsibility for their personal improvement. It's also a campaign of resiliency aimed at combatting all the negativity we are bombarded with from all directions each day.

I use the term campaign because Airman Up! is not intended to be a short-term fad, but a long-term journey. When I say Airman, I'm talking about the big "A" Airmen - officers, enlisted and civilians.

Airman Up! is an all-inclusive effort without borders or fences. In other words, while initially targeted at 20th Fighter Wing personnel, it is ultimately intended for anyone who calls themselves an Airman at Shaw AFB regardless of rank, gender, race, religion, Air Force specialty code, or any other demographic you can think of.

Rest assured, Airman Up! is just as much for me as it is for anyone else. You see, apart from some eagles on my lapel, some badges on my left chest, my name on the right and a job title, I have many more important things in common with all Airmen, not the least of which are hopes, dreams, fears and regrets.

Airman Up! is about focusing on those things that bind all Airmen together, like prideful adherence to common standards of appearance and conduct, abiding by the same customs and courtesies, serving committedly to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, living by the same Airman's Creed, and upholding the same Air Force core values of integrity, service, and excellence.

Airman Up! is a call for action to all those virtuous things we have in common for individual and collective benefit. It is a charge to do the things that bind us together better than we already are - with pride, enthusiasm and passion - thus the exclamation point. 

Airman Up! is certainly not limited to professional development or Air Force career enhancement. It is just as much a call to action in personal aspects of our lives as well.

We don't cease being Airmen just because we leave work and return home. We are Airmen both in and out of uniform. Thus, it is also a call for Airmen to be better sons and daughters, mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, friends and wingmen.

Despite the important needs of our great Air Force, I desire for everyone to run out of career before they run out of family.

Airman Up! describes an ethos dedicated to personal improvement in any area of one's life that can be guided by a vision for future success. Quite simply, Airman Up! is grounded in the belief that focusing on and enhancing our most valuable resource, our Airmen, is the absolute best way to ultimately accomplish our mission.

In the 20th FW, that in turn means we improve combat readiness, our compliance culture, our communities on base and off, all while further deepening the Air Force core values within. 

The Airman Up! campaign is also meant to challenge supervisors at all levels to get to know and understand the Airmen they are responsible for better than they already do.

The Airman Comprehensive Assessment form that went into effect last July is an excellent tool to help formally facilitate the vital need in our Air Force to give Airmen the feedback they so much deserve and long for. In so doing, supervisors will be better armed to help their subordinates develop future-oriented goals and the detailed plans necessary to help them achieve those goals. Hopefully, supervisors will recognize that Airman Up! provides them a backdrop for consistent messaging to Airmen and a powerful tool in and of itself for facilitating focused mentoring.

One of the ultimate aims of the campaign is to spur all supervisors to tap into the intrinsic motivation I believe resides in every Airman to improve and succeed not only in the Air Force, but in life.

Ah life! It is certainly not without its challenges, especially for those serving in the U.S. Air Force. Operation tempos are high, budgets are low, and manning shortages are common. There are no shortages though of anxiety-causing challenges or change.

As a wing commander I battle many of those types of challenges on your behalf to make sure we can do our mission, but not on the backs of our Airmen. Unfortunately, I can't always control the environment we have to live and work in, and there are some challenges we need to simply turn into opportunities. That's why above all else, Airman Up! is a call to resiliency. 

You've heard the saying that life isn't so much what happens to you as how you react to it.
 
I happen to believe that to be very true. 

In anticipation of life's setbacks, Airman Up! is a drive for Airmen to take actions today to strengthen any or all of the four domains -  mental, physical, social, and spiritual - a that help define a comprehensively fit Airman. In so doing, Airman will be better equipped to positively react to life's twists and turns. "Cowboy Up!" is what cowboys say to other cowboys who get bucked off the bull to inspire the fallen to get up, dust off and ride again. Airman Up! is intended to send a similar reminder message.

When life or the Air Force beats you down, get up, shake it off and keep driving forward.

This cowboy analogy was actually the catalyst to my whole Airman Up! idea. The portrait of rugged, tough-minded individuals trying to accomplish what most cannot because of the skill required or the dangers involved is a powerful parallel to Airmen serving in defense of our nation.

The fact that you are accomplishing something others can't for themselves is a fact all Airmen should take great pride in because what our Air Force asks us to do is not easy and risky at best. It takes courage, sacrifice and an uncommon commitment to things larger than self from deep within.

Airman Up! - two simple words intended to mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people. The saying is a charge for all Airmen to identify areas in their lives for improvement and then establishing an executable path to succeed in those areas, for supervisors to invest the time and energy to be a positive influence in the lives of their Airmen, and for all Airmen to be more resilient in the face of tomorrow's inevitable challenges. I strongly believe if enthusiastically applied at all the subordinate levels in the 20th FW, with just the right emphasis and within the proper context, Airman Up! has the power to change lives and organizations across Shaw AFB, and even our Air Force.

Again, Airman Up! are just two simple words, absolutely nothing without action. I therefore call on all my fellow service men and women to actively engage, embrace this challenge for the benefit of many, and Airman Up!