Project Warrior: Challenges put being Airman first, push limits

Wednesday , July 21, 2010 - 3:20 PM

Lee Anne Hensley - Hilltop Times staff

The 388th Fighter Wing recently launched a program to sharpen its Airmen, called Project Warrior.

"It's easy for people to completely focus on being a good specialist, or worker, and lose sight of what's truly expected," said Chief Master Sgt. Atticus Smith, 388th FW command chief and developer of Project Warrior, "but we must be Airmen first and specialists second."

To help specialists refocus on being Airmen first, Smith said Project Warrior includes a series of challenges that "are really nothing more than what is expected of Airmen, such as leading fitness sessions, knowing the Airman's Creed, professionally developing oneself, being fit and helping the base or community."

The program was inspired by a Chief's Challenge that Smith designed while he served as commandant of Kirtland Noncommissioned Officer Academy in New Mexico.

"That challenge revolved all around fitness," Smith explained. "I used that as a backdrop but bumped it up a few notches with Project Warrior. At the heart of Project Warrior is servant leadership, professional development and fitness ... areas all Airmen should focus closely on, and it takes desire, dedication and determination to do so."

More specifically, the challenges include: Achieve 90 points or higher on official fitness assessment; become CPR certified, if not already; memorize the Airman's Creed, Air Force mission and Air Force top priorities, as well as be able to explain the significance behind the design of the Air Force symbol; complete at least 38.8 hours of base-level or community volunteer work; read, in its entirety, any book from the Air Force Chief of Staff Professional Reading List, current or past years, or other Air Force leadership development guides; lead several fitness sessions for base professional organizations and one's flight, unit or squadron; and complete 10,388 pushups and sit-ups as well as other fitness challenges with one's command leadership. The candidates of the Project Warrior program have six months or less to complete these challenges.

Upon successful completion, Airmen receive a two-day pass and civilians receive eight hours of time off, a Project Warrior Coin and the candidate's name permanently engraved on a commemorative plaque located in the 388th FW headquarters building.

Plus, Smith adds the candidate will also get "a sense of accomplishment after dedicating oneself to a series of goals and completing them."

"I think it is aggressive and challenging, but doable," said Lt. Col. Dwight Hintz, 388th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron commander who began the Project Warrior program Feb. 1. "I believe that if a squadron commander can make the time to do it, then others can as well. I also believe it will make me a better Airman."

Regarding the 10,388 pushup challenge, Hintz said "others should know that if you do the math, this is less than 60 pushups a day ... very doable."

Although "doable," Smith said the program is designed to challenge Airmen beyond what they believe they can do. "In the end, the program is focused on pushing people outside their comfort zone, pushing them past their perceived limits or getting them to do something they normally wouldn't have done."

To learn more about the program or to volunteer for the challenges, contact Smith at (801) 777-3654.

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