CANNON AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. --
The 16th Special Operations Squadron and the Special Operations Command’s Preservation of the Force and Family team have introduced a human performance center for 27th Special Operations Wing aircrew at Cannon.
The introduction of this facility stems from the expansion of physical wellness improvements by POTFF across Air Force Special Operations Command.
According to the 16th SOS commander, Lt. Col. Michael Burton, the center helps aircrews strengthen areas of the body that are frequently prone to chronic injuries due to SOF-peculiar job requirements.
“We worked with the POTFF team to create a physical fitness human performance center, inside of our building, to get after the musculoskeletal issue we are having with our aircrew,” Burton said. “Specifically, we are attempting to preempt lower back injuries in our gunners and upper back and neck injuries in our pilots.”
Whether it’s due to constantly lifting heavy ammunition and objects, or long-term posture while wearing heavy specialized equipment, the strain of the mission has an impact on aircrew’s bodies.
“It’s too early to tell what the long-term impacts will be, especially since this is a small initiative that is just gaining traction, but aircrew feedback has been positive,” Burton said. “I’ve heard reports of pain relief, weight loss and more energy for daily routines. However, our long term goal is to see a downtick in Airmen put on Duties Not to Include Flying status and long term injuries on the job. We see our Airmen as an investment, and keeping them fit and healthy will retain their talent, ultimately leading to a more lethal force.”
One of the many Airmen who visit the center on a daily basis, Capt. Nathan Blair, 16th SOS combat systems officer, explained the center’s purpose and its positive impact on the aircrew in the 27 SOW.
“Having a center that focuses on our physical wellness specific to our jobs allows us to do our mission for longer durations without feeling as fatigued. I don’t see this as a replacement to the gym on the other side of base, but a supplement to it that gets after some of the mission-specific impacts to our bodies. Additionally, the fact that it is located in the unit makes us all far more likely to take advantage of it.”
The 16th SOS, like the rest of the 27th Special Operations Wing’s units, continues to refine what it means to build a better and more effective force.