Chaplains lead the way to spiritual fitness

  • Published
  • By Maj. Mark Crumpton
  • 39th Air Base Wing Chaplain
In today's Air Force we are much more in tune with the "Warrior Ethos." The shift from launching sorties and returning to the relative safety of a base located far from the combat zone, to a forward operating base that puts us in the middle of the fight has dramatically increased the number of Airmen in harms way. Then, add to that the many Joint Expeditionary Taskings that take us "outside the wire" and put us in the thick of things has promoted a much more "Fit to Fight" culture. This has been seen in the increased emphasis placed on physical fitness. Does anyone remember the days of the bike test as the barometer of an Airman's physical fitness?

We have also seen a much more robust basic military training program which increased from six-and-a-half weeks to eight-and-a-half weeks in November, 2008, adding two weeks that will be used to enhance and reinforce BMT's current war skills training. We are also seeing more and more combat skills training prior to deployments. These increased training measures insure the war fighter is mentally prepared for the close-quarter combat of this generation's Air Force. As important as it is for this generation of warriors to be physically fit to fight and mentally prepared for the new tactics of this overseas contingency operation, we cannot loose sight of the importance of spiritual fitness in today's Air Force.

The newly updated Air Force Enlisted Force Structure states every Airman is to, "Be spiritually ready to accomplish the mission." Spiritual readiness is the development of those personal qualities needed to help a person through times of stress, hardship and tragedy. Spiritual readiness may or may not include religious activities.

This continued emphasis on spiritual fitness highlights the need to be prepared to endure times of stress, hardship and tragedy. As Chaplains, our role is to serve as spiritual fitness trainers and offer a variety of "fitness programs" to enhance spiritual fitness. As such, we are constantly looking for ways to bring spiritual fitness to the war fighter through flightline ministries, integrating into medical readiness exercises, and other functional areas' combat training opportunities.

Here at Incirlik we also have an Airman's ministry center near the dorms called "The Connection." This is a place where Airmen "connect" with other Airmen to visit, study and search the internet. It is also a place where Airmen "connect" with God and God "connects" with Airmen. This is another opportunity for spiritual fitness.

And of course there are a variety of fitness programs found in the Chapel itself. We offer a wide variety of worship services and religious education opportunities that enhance the overall spiritual fitness program.

As Chaplains, we emphasize spiritual fitness in all we do. We are not as concerned with what "workout program" Airmen use to develop their spiritual fitness, but that we do all we can to insure they are spiritually prepared for times of stress, hardship and tragedy.