Command strengthens resilience through scenario-based stress inoculation training

  • Published
  • By Sean P. Houlihan
  • Headquarters Air Force Reserve Command


Air Force Reserve Command’s Develop Resilient Leaders team recently completed a stress inoculation scenario-based training workshop to develop scenarios and build a framework for policy, training plans and tracking processes across the command.

“One DRL line of effort is to build resilient leaders through stress inoculation interwoven into challenging, realistic training,” said Chief Master Sgt. Jonathan Rapelje, DRL operations chief in AFRC’s Directorate of Manpower, Personnel and Services (A1) here. “This will provide insight into the attributes associated with both resilience and the warrior ethos, and prepare members for the high-end fight.

“DRL will focus on the deliberate development of leadership skills without unnecessarily extending the length of training requirements. While training typically induces stressors, the impact of those stressors are rarely evaluated. DRL’s approach is to transition from simple stress induction to stress inoculation by focusing on stress response and engaged feedback.”

The chief went on to say that the DRL team is incorporating stress inoculation principles into job qualification standards training tasks. This will help promote competence, boost confidence in Airmen and their teams, and encourage a conscientious mindset for accomplishing the mission while caring for oneself and other people while not disturbing required training during a unit training assembly.

Stress inoculation principles are currently in phase two of field testing within five Air Force Specialty Codes in an effort to validate the information before the DRL team goes command-wide with the program. The five AFSCs are 2T2 – Air Transportation, 3E3 – Structural, 3F0 – Personnel, 3P0 – Security Forces and 4N0 – Aerospace Medicine.
Chief Master Sgt. Raymond Ross, Jr., AFRC’s Air Transportation functional area manager, said the 2T2 career field being included in the initial fielding is important since 2T2 Reservists maintain a high deployment tempo.

“We are building our aerial porters to be resilient leaders regardless of rank,” he said. “We need physically and mentally prepared Airmen who are ready to execute the mission when it is their time to deploy.”

Ross said the goal is to develop real-world scenarios for the more than 5,000 Airmen in the career field that will allow them to respond appropriately to stressful situations they may encounter while performing their duties.

The 32nd Aerial Port Squadron, Pittsburgh International Airport Air Reserve Station, Pennsylvania, the 70th APS, Homestead Air Reserve Base, Florida, and the 80th APS, Dobbins ARB, Georgia, are currently involved with phase two field testing.

Throughout 2022, new units will be added to each of the five career fields at the rate of three units per quarter until all wings have been added. This metered approach to beta testing will allow the DRL team to assess progress, make changes and face challenges head on.

Rapelje said group members have already identified three challenges they are working through: ensuring process education and buy-in, replicating scenario-building across the command, and attaining oversight and program maintenance to ensure sustainability.

“Ultimately, the stress inoculation program’s success centers on the growth of AFSCs, scenarios and units,” he said. “Working through the senior enlisted leaders, we are able to identify areas for improvement and work toward overcoming known challenges, bringing us closer to final sustainable and repeatable processes.

“Building Airmen with a strong warrior ethos and inoculating them to the operational and interpersonal stressors they will face both on and off the battlefield requires a framework capable of withstanding both the tests of time and budgetary constraints while retaining the flexibility needed for broad scale and scope application across our diverse mission sets.”