624th RSG builds resilient Airmen through Stress Inoculation training

  • Published
  • By James Bowman
  • 624th Regional Support Group

Senior noncommissioned officers from the 624th Regional Support Group attended a one-day Stress Inoculation workshop. The training provided the framework for leaders to assist Airmen in performing more effectively under stressful conditions.

The Stress Inoculation program incorporates routine and limited exposure to mission stressors during normal proficiency and readiness training. “We want to train like we fight, and we know stressors like these are common in real-world situations,” said Chief Master Sgt. Christina Bicknell, Stress Inoculation program manager for the Air Force Reserve Command. “Our hope is that through appropriate exposure to stressors like these and training on ways to deal with stress, Reservists will develop the confidence to handle even greater levels of stress in the future.”

The Stress Inoculation program focuses on shifting the training mindset to align with mission command’s five C’s: character, competence, capability, cohesion and capacity. “To help incorporate Stress Inoculation, the MAJCOM and functional managers develop scenarios introducing purposefully degrading conditions, which are assessed by trained evaluators and recorded anonymously,” said Bicknell. Tailored and deliberate feedback immediately after the training scenario is a key part of Stress Inoculation to develop Airmen with the leadership qualities needed to execute mission requirements.

According to Chief Master Sgt. Bicknell, “What’s different with this style of feedback, following proficiency training is the evaluators don’t come in after the scenario and say, ‘this is what you did right,’ ‘this is what you did wrong,’ or ‘this is what you should have done differently.’ It’s important to let the participants work through what just happened and how they possibly could have handled the scenario better.” This generates critical thought, better preparing the Airmen for the high-end fight.

“The most important part of the training was combining classwork concepts with tactile learning. This allowed senior noncommissioned officers to understand Stress Inoculation material better so they can implement and empower Airmen to develop and become more combat-resilient,” said Chief Master Sgt. Fernando Canez, senior enlisted leader for the 624th Civil Engineer Squadron. “I accept responsibility and fully support the commander in ensuring the success of the Stress Inoculation program by providing positive feedback, measuring Airmen’s leadership qualities in a safe environment, and yielding metrics to identify areas of improvement and ensure mission success.”

When team members train together, they develop the essential skills and mindset, with improved communication, trust, and teamwork in a high-pressure environment.

“The crux of the matter revolves around debriefing, providing feedback, and allowing others to learn in an individual and team environment. This program is a modest yet impactful avenue through which we deliberately develop our Airmen,” said Master Sgt. Tiana Corpuz, 624th CES member. “We are empowering our Airmen by allowing them to exercise initiative, nurture creativity, and cultivate critical thinking through Stress Inoculation scenarios. It is imperative that we, as senior noncommissioned officers, fulfill our responsibility to mentor our subordinates.” Ultimately, it’s about deliberately developing our greatest asset...our Airmen.

Leaders are encouraged to develop readiness exercises at the local level to create a Stress Inoculation program that provides the commanders with the tools to build mission-ready Airmen.