ACC plans to improve squadron readiness

Gen. Mike Holmes, commander of Air Combat Command, discusses the importance of squadron revitalization during an all call at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va., June 20, 2017. In a recent letter to Airmen, Holmes stressed that squadron readiness, his first priority, begins with putting Airmen and families first. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Nick Wilson)

Gen. Mike Holmes, commander of Air Combat Command, discusses the importance of squadron revitalization during an all call at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va., June 20, 2017. In a recent letter to Airmen, Holmes stressed that squadron readiness, his first priority, begins with putting Airmen and families first. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Nick Wilson)

Command staff members from Air Combat Command listen to Gen. Mike Holmes, commander of ACC, during his speech about Airmen and family support programs at an all call at Joint Base Langley-Eustis Va., June 20, 2017. During Holmes’ presentation, he also emphasized the importance of communication up and down each squadron’s chain of command. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Nick Wilson)

Command staff members from Air Combat Command listen to Gen. Mike Holmes, commander of ACC, during his speech about Airmen and family support programs at an all call at Joint Base Langley-Eustis Va., June 20, 2017. During Holmes’ presentation, he also emphasized the importance of communication up and down each squadron’s chain of command. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Nick Wilson)

Gen. Mike Holmes, commander of Air Combat Command, speaks about his priorities during an all call at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va., June 20, 2017. The three priorities Holmes listed are improving squadron readiness, building leaders and bringing the future faster. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Nick Wilson)

Gen. Mike Holmes, commander of Air Combat Command, speaks about his priorities during an all call at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va., June 20, 2017. The three priorities Holmes listed are improving squadron readiness, building leaders and bringing the future faster. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Nick Wilson)

Gen. Mike Holmes, commander of Air Combat Command, discusses deployments, readiness, and training at an all call at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va., June 20, 2017. He highlighted a program called Preservation of the Force and Families, which is designed to address the physical, mental, social and spiritual needs of deployed Service members and their families. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Nick Wilson)

Gen. Mike Holmes, commander of Air Combat Command, discusses deployments, readiness, and training at an all call at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va., June 20, 2017. He highlighted a program called Preservation of the Force and Families, which is designed to address the physical, mental, social and spiritual needs of deployed Service members and their families. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Nick Wilson)

JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Va. --

Gen. Mike Holmes, commander of Air Combat Command, stressed the importance of squadron revitalization during an All Call at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, June 20.

Holmes mentioned in a recent readiness letter that squadron readiness requires improvement in “the readiness of our Airmen, their families, and our weapons systems.”  

“I expect leaders to be aware of specific needs of each Airman’s family and help them acquire access to the programs they need,” he said.

Comprehensive Airman Fitness is a key component of Holmes’ plan.

“It has four pillars: mental, physical, social and spiritual,” Holmes said. “We try to work through and provide tools in each one of those areas.”

Holmes challenged supervisors at all levels to get to know the families of their Airmen.

Additionally, Holmes gave an example of what he personally experienced with squadron readiness during his time as a wing commander.

“I could stand up and (say), ‘Don’t drive drunk. Don’t get killed on the highway. Let’s wear our seatbelts and let’s look out for each other,’” Holmes explained. “(What I’ve seen that) makes a difference is when folks sitting next to you that know you say, ‘Hey, something doesn’t seem right. Is there something going on? Is there something in your life that you need some help with?’ and we work it at that level.”

Demonstrating and supporting a healthy work-life balance helps build and support healthy families, he said.

Holmes also emphasized the necessity to foster open lines of communication, both up and down the chain of command.

“Be an active part of the solution,” he said. “Do not hesitate to speak up if something warrants attention.”

In areas such as risk taking and leadership development, the ACC Commander empowered leaders at all levels to employ ingenuity and manage risk to work smarter.

Holmes also highlighted deployments He focused on Airmen readiness, training and the readiness of weapon systems.

“Air Force Special Operations Command has created a program called Preservation of the Force and Families (POTFF),” Holmes said. “They looked at the stress they had put (on) their deployed members (and the toll taken on families) after 16 years of war.”

POTFF is a United States SOCOM program designed to ensure a holistic approach to battle readiness. The program addresses physical, mental, social and spiritual needs of Service members and their families as part of an effort to preserve the force.

From an operational perspective, Holmes explained what sometimes happens to Airmen in combat and remotely piloted aircraft career fields based on the POTFF.

“When they reach the peak of their skills and experience, they are a broken person either physically, mentally, spiritually or socially,” Holmes said.

The way to remedy these issues is by giving stress management tools to Airmen and families, Holmes said.

“In the meantime, I want supervisors to make sure we use the tools we have. We’ll continue to work toward finding a more robust program,” Holmes said. “Success rests on the determination of ACC Airmen – in every kind of unit.”