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NEWS | Oct. 11, 2007

Individual readiness

By Col. Paul Christianson 79th Medical WIng Vice Commander

We all talk a lot about readiness, but I'm not sure we really think about what that means. As I write this, thousands of Air Force personnel are deployed around the world away from their home stations. This makes the possibility YOU or I will be involved in a deployment very real. Readiness involves both personal and organizational issues. Some of us are very involved in ensuring our organizations are "ready" but we are ALL responsible for our personal readiness status. Personal readiness expected by our Chief of Staff, General Moseley and the senior leadership of all Services includes physical, mental, and spiritual aspects. Our leadership expects a capable, ready-to-go military unit or individual available when called. Our personal readiness is affected by such factors as physical fitness, leading a healthy lifestyle, remaining current on immunizations and maintaining dental health, keeping weapons-qualified, maintaining our personal affairs ready for "auto pilot", maintaining our personal equipment and uniforms, CBRNE training currency, and Self-Aid and Buddy Care. Units are additionally tasked with providing equipment, arranging and tracking training and UTCs, and working individual problems after an individual has exhausted personal avenues. As we become a smaller force, the importance of EVERYONE being involved in readiness is amplified. This means not just personnel assigned to deployable UTCs, but EVERYONE wearing the uniform has a role and responsibility. EVERYONE is important, EVERYONE is a player, and EVERYONE makes a difference, either positive or negative. When you deploy and are not ready and qualified, you denigrate the capability of in-place deployed forces already stretched thin. Non-qualified personnel can't be immediately replaced. This may cause the use of deployed resources to deal with or care for unqualified personnel and use of scarce transportation to move these personnel out of theater and qualified people in. Sounds like a lot to think about when you put it all together. It is! I think it's time we spend more time doing just that. Readiness is a mindset, a culture we must all adopt. It's OUR job to be mentally and physically ready to go at any time or to be ready to take up the slack if our co-workers deploy. In today's reality we can't get ready when it's time to go; we have to be ready all the time. This is "Service Before Self"; it's what we do.