Warrior philosophy, pilot training -- attitude matters

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. James "Venom" Gifford
  • 8th Flying Training Squadron commander
I am absolutely sure that the Air Force produces warriors and not technicians. I am that sure because I have faith in my leaders and because I live by a certain warrior philosophy. This philosophy forms the bedrock of my behavior as an officer, and I truly believe that it was catalyzed during my time in pilot training. Simply put -- attitude matters.

Vance's instructor pilots and supporting Airmen are tasked with the solemn responsibility of training the nation's joint aviators, a responsibility that all personnel must take seriously. It is the real reason why this base exists.

But it's not just teaching the next generation of pilots how to fly. It is grooming the next generation of warrior Airmen who will someday be senior officers and senior NCOs who will have a profound effect on the Air Force as a whole.

And it all starts with attitude. And it starts here at Vance, with us, right now.
The Air Force, as a military culture, needs to live by the philosophy that it is the warrior Airmen, not the aircraft, which make the real difference on the battlefield. This belief needs to become part of our military culture as a whole.

Some might argue that such a philosophy is unnecessary, that we should simply let our superior technology speak for us. But I would counter by stating that such a course of action could only result in the end of the Air Force as an independent service.

Warrior attitude matters and it matters more now then ever before. If you disagree, you might be in the wrong line of work.

As the 8th Flying Training Squadron commander it is my duty and my pleasure to mentor students and instructors on a daily basis, a duty which I take very seriously. When I brief a new class on what to expect from Phase II training and Joint Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training as a whole, I always include the topic of proper attitude and the importance of the warrior mindset.

I specifically state that the desired result of JSUPT is not a set of wings and a specific aircraft assignment, but the opportunity to serve the nation in a time of war in an increased capacity.

In other words, I brief my personal philosophy that every Airman must want to engage and destroy the enemy whether by using an aircraft, an M-4 rifle, a keyboard or a remotely piloted aircraft.

Whatever function you perform, that function is important because it supports the joint fight and defeats the bad guy. Such a philosophy demands the idea that service really does come before self -- an idea that does not come easily and requires a tremendous amount of self-discipline.

In short, it requires a superior attitude.

So, whether you are an Airman working in the tower, running the scopes in radar approach control, providing security for the base or working administrative issues in the military personnel flight, your attitude matters.

If you are an instructor pilot in the T-6, the T-38 or the T-1, your attitude matters. Every single Airman here at Vance AFB wearing a uniform needs to remember that their personal attitude matters and it influences everybody around them -- especially the student pilots.

We need to culturally embrace the concept that it's the person, the warrior, the samurai, whatever nomenclature you like, that actually makes the difference.

Yes, we fly planes, we drop bombs, we defend our computer nets and we pilot RPAs. All of these things are absolutely essential to the joint fight. But it's our attitude and our martial spirit that matters most. It matters most because in the joint arena right now, it's the individual Marine, Airman, Soldier and Sailor that serves in harm's way.

Maintain your attitude, because someday, somebody, somewhere, will do something positive to protect our country because of the influence you had on them due to your martial spirit and positive attitude.