Make readiness a personal experience

  • Published
  • By Maj. Tiffany A. Feet
  • 86th Maintenance Squadron commander
Recently the world watched in shock as U.S. embassies in multiple countries came under attack and we suffered the first death of a U.S. ambassador in office, in more than 20 years. These events serve as a reminder to Airmen everywhere on how quickly and unexpectedly the call for help can come and how often there is little time to prepare.

Airmen are no stranger to the term readiness, but how many of us have taken the time to understand what readiness requires from each of us individually? When you search for readiness on the internet, it comes up with these definitions; "The state of being fully prepared for something" or "A willingness to do something." Both of these are good definitions, but alone, they are too broad for personal application.

Understanding readiness is not difficult. Air Force readiness is simply the sum of each member's individual readiness and the availability of its equipment. The key to achieving readiness at the Air Force level is for each member to understand and monitor their individual requirements. So how do we take this broad term called "readiness" and break it down into something that is personally applicable and actionable?

Most Airmen can divide their individual readiness in to three categories: personal, professional and organizational. Imagine you receive a phone call early one morning. You are being recalled. Upon reporting you find out that you are required to deploy and you will be leaving the following morning. Keeping this scenario in mind, consider the following questions:

Personal Readiness:
Will you be scrambling to find someone to feed and care for your pets? Will you be frantically trying to set up automatic payments for your bills? Will you be standing at the legal table on the processing line updating the power of attorney you let lapse or the will you never updated after your marriage or the birth of a child?

Professional Readiness:
Will you be pulled from your primary duties to sit at a computer and complete an overdue training module? Are you rushing to immunizations to get that flu shot you have been receiving emails about for the last three weeks or to get that physical health assessment you are overdue for? As you prepare to leave your additional duties behind, are you quickly trying to bring your alternate up to speed to ensure nothing falls through the cracks during your absence? If you are the alternate and your primary is being deployed, are you digging through the AFIs to learn everything that needs to be done?

Organizational Readiness:
Is the unit scrambling to get waivers or replacements because members tasked in those packages have deployment availability codes against them? Is your section working around the clock to repair equipment so that you can deploy the correct amount and still maintain home station operations? Is your flight sending out runners to look for personnel because member's information was incorrect on the recall roster?

Did you answer yes to any of the questions above? If so, then you are not ready. If you did not answer yes to any of the questions, I would challenge you to come back in a month to ask them again. A lot can happen in one month; people take leave and get injured, recurring training and medical requirements come due, and additional duties can change ... in short, life happens.

Chances are that not all of the answers will be the same because readiness is not a box that can be checked and set aside. It is something that takes constant attention and updating.

These questions are not all encompassing and may not be applicable to all career fields. They are just a few examples that come from my personal and professional experience, but any Airmen can easily sit down and develop a list of questions that apply to their field or personal situation.

Readiness is not an option, it is essential to the mission. It is the linchpin that enables rapid, global mobility and ensures we can respond at a moment's notice when the call for help comes.

When that call does come, the question is simple. Are you ready?