Fruits of victory

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Eric Roth
  • 4th Fighter Wing Staff Judge Advocate
"Upon the fields of friendly strife, are sown the seeds that, upon other fields, on other days, will bear the fruits of victory."

Who could ever forget those immortal words uttered by then Brig. General Douglas MacArthur while serving as Superintendent of West Point Military Academy? Those words are just as true today as they were more than 80 years ago. Athletics in the military have never just been about sports and physical fitness.

If you haven't noticed, the Air Force is finally beginning to take physical fitness seriously. For those of you who haven't become true believers yet, let me give you a few reasons to help bring you onboard.

First of all, being physically fit will give you more energy to do your job, play with your children and grandchildren, and even take Fido for a long walk.

Also, you will be healthier and less injury prone.

You will want to quit smoking and stop eating so much.
When you look at yourself in the mirror, you will feel good about yourself and others will notice.

Have I convinced you yet? No? Okay, let's up the ante.

The new evaluation forms have physical fitness on them as a performance rating. Right now they are only pass or fail, but it isn't too hard to imagine the day when the evaluation may include your individual fitness score. Those could also very easily fit into the Weighted Airman Promotion System. That's what the Army does.

Or perhaps as a leader, you recognize that setting the example is important. How can you set the example when your PT score is just meeting standards? Set the bar high for yourself and your subordinates.

If you are an NCO or officer and you are not scoring an excellent, you need to work towards that goal, not just for yourself, but the Airmen who look up to you and follow your lead. They are going to be leaders one day. Don't let them learn bad habits. Since when was just meeting the standard good enough?

Are you still not on board?

I'm going to have to borrow a few lines from Rudyard Kipling's poem, "If."

If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on!"
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man, my son!

The bottom line is pushing your body during physical training hurts. The only way you can get better is when your lungs feel like they are going to explode. When your muscles ache and can't give anymore, keep driving on. Keep pushing harder. Don't quit, don't give in, force your body to keep moving, pushing and giving. Drive on to the Ranger objective.

This is the crux of the warrior ethos. This ability to mentally and physically push yourself beyond what you thought was humanly possible and then some.

To succeed in combat you must have the warrior ethos. There is no way to truly replicate combat, but intense PT comes as close as anything else at home station. When you get the call to go, you better be ready. Your comrades and your country are counting on you.

Whether you are surrounded by the enemy and caught in a 48-hour firefight, having to turn aircraft nonstop day after day, flying physically demanding sorties day in and day out or working 18 hours a day writing legal opinions to prevent another Abu Ghraib incident. The key to victory is servicemembers who when called upon to serve in combat will push themselves harder than they have ever pushed and still will be able to function at the highest levels of performance.

Your siblings, parents and grandparents did it at Normandy, over the skies of Germany, at the Chosin reservoir, at the Ia Drang Valley and at Roberts Ridge and so can you.

So, what are you waiting for? Get down and knock out one hundred pushups because we're going for a five mile run.