Wing CC: Stay on course with fitness regimen

  • Published
  • By Col. Tim Cahoon
  • 459th Air Refueling Wing commander
A topic of interest to me, particularly since completing two tours in the area of responsibility, is fitness. Now I am no Olympic athlete, but I have always personally thought being relatively fit was important. I try to keep my weight under control and exercise when able. I have to admit I was very pleased when Gen. John P. Jumper, our former Air Force Chief of Staff, re-invigorated our Air Force fitness program a few years ago. Prior to that, I was concerned we might be sending the wrong message not only to our own people, but to our sister service members as well.

Fitness can be defined many ways. Like it or not, if we want to continue to serve successfully in the Air Force, we must accept the Air Force's definition of being fit. At a minimum, that means scoring a total of at least 75 points on the annual fitness exam. Of course, that means that the combination of your running, sit-up, push-up and waist measurement scores must be 75 points or higher. For some that may be easy even if they do not work out regularly, or watch what they eat. For others it is a continual challenge.

Bottom line, you can't make a good argument against not being fit. In the AOR being fit increases one's ability to endure the climate, the long hours, the work pace for what sometimes seems like endless days. Fit and healthy team members make for a strong team. That is what is required to get the mission done, and for your fellow Airmen to be able to count on you. At home your family needs you to be healthy. At work for the Air Force being fit reduces current medical costs for the Air Force, and during retirement it reduces the overall cost of medical care both for you and our government. Lastly, the taxpayer has a right to look at you and have confidence that you can get the job done, particularly when they are paying for it!

Overall, I think the vast majority of the members of the 459th ARW are fit. They have passed their test, many work out regularly, and they look fit. However, I am concerned on two fronts. First, I want to ensure that we have a consistent wing policy and instructions to make sure we are applying the testing, tracking, and reaction to test failures. As such, I have tasked our new vice wing commander, Col. Mike Allman, to work with our commanders, chiefs and first sergeants to review our guidance. 

He will ensure we are fair, consistent and accurate in how we run our program, maintain results, and encourage fitness success. I have tasked him to draft a wing instruction that will summarize Air Force guidance that is specific to the Reserve and to incorporate any wing guidance that we want to live by. Second, I am concerned by those I know who have not passed their fitness test or don't look fit and present a poor image of the Air Force to our public.

I know it is a challenge to find time to work out. I, too, am encountering that same challenge. I also know that we have limited means of directing our Traditional Reservists to exercise on non-duty days. However, it is important and we all have to commit ourselves to a more fit lifestyle, otherwise we put the mission at risk, our team members at risk, and our families at risk. 

If you work out regularly I applaud you, if you don't, then I ask you to begin and to devote yourself to a better future. The last thing I want to do is to send you packing due to multiple fitness test failures, but I will if you make me. My goal is that we are 100-percent testing current and 100-percent testing successful with no fitness exemptions. If we all work together, we can meet that goal.