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Commentary | Aug. 18, 2006

Air Force develops warrior ethos to combat GWOT

By Senior Master Sgt. Jeffrey Martin 1st Contracting Squadron

The Global War on Terrorism's effect on the Air Force has been dramatic.
We transformed from a garrison force trained to turn back the tide of communism to an expeditionary force trained for missions ranging from humanitarian aid and natural disasters to fighting terrorism across the globe. 

Explosive ordnance disposal Airmen are de-arming improvised explosive devices; security forces Airmen are engaging the enemy outside the wire, and vehicle operators are driving and defending convoys. These are just a few examples of Airmen on the front lines of the GWOT. 

To prepare our warriors for these expeditionary missions, the Air Force has made drastic changes to our basic training, physical training and professional military education programs. These changes are part of an overall effort to develop a warrior ethos within the Air Force. 

What is warrior ethos? A warrior is "one who is engaged aggressively or energetically in an activity, cause or conflict;" ethos is "the distinguishing character, sentiment, moral nature, or guiding beliefs of a person or institution." The warrior ethos is a guiding principle by which we live. It guides more than just our professional life as Airmen. By dedicating ourselves to the warrior ethos, we become better people overall. 

The warrior ethos is first developed during Basic Military Training, when our new Airmen warriors are issued rifles and the duration of training has been extended from six to eight weeks for more realistic combat training. In BMT, our new warrior Airmen are being taught that regardless of your Air Force Specialty Code, you are an Airman first, and that you are required to defend yourself and your fellow Airman. 

These changes, along with a more robust physical training program and an increased emphasis on joint and expeditionary concepts in our professional military education courses, will provide the foundation necessary to hone our warrior culture. 

The warrior ethos is not limited to battlefield skills picked up during training courses - it is a mindset that, in some respect, requires Airmen to change how they think about our Air Force. It is changing the notion that pilots and aircrew members are the only ones who engage with the enemy. It is changing the mindset that only security forces Airmen defend the base. 

Perhaps the most important aspect of the warrior ethos is to understand and apply our core values of integrity, service and excellence. Do what is right every time, even when nobody is watching. Get out of those traditional functional stovepipes and understand that the needs of the Air Force and our nation outweigh your own. Do your best at whatever task you are assigned regardless of your AFSC. 

The reality of the GWOT is that Airmen are being asked to do tasks that 10 years ago were not conceivable. Cultivating warrior skills and developing our warrior ethos will guide our Airmen through the changes our Air Force is experiencing and provide them with the correct tools to fight and win the GWOT.