Personal readiness: What does it mean to you?

AVIANO AIR BASE, Italy -- Great wine, great food, amazing travel opportunities and friendly people. All are key aspects of being assigned to the 31st Fighter Wing. But is that why our country maintains this base in northern Italy?

In 1999, the 31st Fighter Wing executed combat operations from Aviano Air Base, Italy, in support of Operation Allied Force. The base population swelled with thousands of people and many different kinds of aircraft. The world watched as NATO and its allies used force to stop atrocities in Kosovo. When you received notification of your Aviano assignment did you think it could happen again? Prior to March 2011, did you think about what your role would be or how your home station job would change if we had to conduct a similar operation from home station?

The 31st FW recently executed Operation Odyssey Dawn with precision and discipline. Once again we successfully received and bedded down people and aircraft and conducted 24/7 combat operations from home station. It was an incredible team effort by people from many organizations and of many talents. Our nation and our Air Force are proud of what we accomplished. Could we have done better?

We can always improve and learn from what we have done. Debriefing ourselves after any operation ensures that we get even better the next time around. It is this culture that has led our Air Force to be the best in the world. One aspect of this concept is personal readiness. Each of us needs to look at ourselves and assess our own personal readiness - where we are and where we know we need to be, both personally and professionally. If you aligned your concept of personal readiness with whichever Air Expeditionary Force bucket you are assigned to, then Odyssey Dawn may have shaken your paradigm. We owe it to ourselves and the Air Force to maintain a high readiness posture. Here are a few key personal readiness items for you to consider:

Take care of yourself. This means physically, emotionally and spiritually. Take a look in the mirror and do an honest assessment. Identify what you need to do to establish and maintain a healthy balance in your life. You will need this foundation to maintain your personal readiness and by doing so you will be a more productive Airman. It starts with you.

Know your job and how to do it well. It might seem like I am stating the obvious, but we need to take advantage of our training and become experts. Here are a few questions:
- Where are you in your upgrade training?
- What are your personal weak spots and what actions are you taking to remedy those?
- What knowledge gaps do you have and how do you fix them?
- How does your job fit into the bigger picture?

Maintain order in your personal affairs. Legal documents and financial responsibilities and commitments quickly come to mind. Legal assistance is readily available and the Airman and Family Readiness Center or personal research can help you plan for your financial future. Do not forget about your personal relationships -- your spouse or significant other, kids, siblings, parents, grandparents and friends. By nurturing the relationships with people who are important to you, you will have less to think about and be better supported if and when you are called upon for contingency operations.

Finally, thank you for your dedication, service and sacrifice to our country. I hope that you will consider what you can do now to be ready for the next time your nation calls.

Remember, it starts with you!