JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Va. --
The 1st Fighter Wing at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, leads the way in combat capability and lethality in current operations worldwide, and serves as America's premier air dominance wing, led by next generation Airmen, integrated with its mission partners, and ready to fly, fight, and win...anytime, anyplace.
In order to operate at this capacity, the Ready Aircrew Program establishes the minimum number of live training events and simulator missions that aircrews must complete during the annual training cycle to maintain readiness. But that does not prepare against all enemies.
On December 13, the 1 FW kicked off RAP 2.0, or Ready Airmen Program, to take care of other areas of readiness that are not directly linked to the flightline.
“A lot of the things we taught had nothing to do with combat skills,” said U.S. Air Force Capt. Andrew Van Timmeren, 1 FW director of staff. “They had nothing to do with how to fight an enemy, other than a lot of the enemies we may be fighting at home psychologically.”
In September, the Air Force mandated a Resiliency Tactical Pause due to an increase in suicide rates this year. The 1 FW had various Airmen stand up during that time and speak on the impact suicide had on them and their families.
“In the feedback we received after the RTP in September, our Airmen expressed the desire to have time set aside to learn more about what they’re interested in and connect with others who are interested in similar things,” said U.S. Air Force Col. David Lopez, 1st Fighter Wing commander. “Our RAP 2.0 event was designed to do just that: provide Airmen the freedom to choose what class or classes they wanted to go to, as well as meet up with others who share their same interests. Through this event and future events, we hope to build a much more resilient ‘First’ team.”
A lot of the stressors the Airmen brought up were topics such as relationships, budgeting, finance, and lack of family time or hobbies because of 12-14 hour shifts. Therefore, the 1 FW leadership blocked off the day and brought in the resources needed to fill this gap.
In charge of their own time, Airmen were able to schedule their entire day with the classes they were interested in.
Hobby-related classes included the new innovation cell, hunter safety with the Fort Eustis federal game warden and the auto skills center. The 1 FW historian provided a class on wing and Air Force history, and Chief and Staff Sergeant panels were available to promote growth in the career fields. Financial management was addressed with classes on budgeting, retirement and investment planning.
More classes ranged from what to expect when deploying and how to prepare for it, to classes on nutrition, anger management and developing relationships.
The 1 FW even brought an outside resource to talk about the dangers and consequences of driving under the influence.
Kristen Mallory, founder of Mallory’s Movement Against Drunk Driving, now 22, was in a vehicle impacted by a drunk driver when she was 16 years old.
After the Airmen participated in various activities with goggles simulating the effects of being under the influence of alcohol, Mallory shared her story with them.
“The concept is simple,” Mallory said. “You don’t go to the pool without your swimsuit or sun screen, you wouldn’t go shopping at the mall without your wallet, you wouldn’t pull a hot pan out of the oven without a mitt, so why go out drinking without a safe ride home.”
Lopez presented Mallory with a token of appreciation for the time she took with the Airmen and commended her on her resilience and efforts against drunk driving.
Between RAP and RAP 2.0, the Airmen of the 1 FW are given the tools they need to maintain mission readiness.
“We hope that sends a powerful message from the 1st FW commander all the way down,” Van Timmeren said. “We care about [our Airmen] growing and developing to the point where we’re willing to not fly and bring instructors in in order to facilitate their growth.”