Spirit mission

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Steven M. Beattie
  • 29 Attack Squadron commander

In this time of sequestration, force reduction boards and various other uncertainties amidst a relatively consistent high operations tempo, we continually demand more of our Airmen in order to ensure mission accomplishment. Situations like these often come with the challenge of sustaining unit morale. As we ask our Airmen to do more with less, we must recognize that their hard work cannot be sustained without preserving their desire to succeed.


Vocabulary.com describes morale as "the spirit a group has that makes them want to succeed."  The website synonymously describes esprit de corps as "when a group or team gives its members a sense of cohesion and support."


How do you build and maintain that "sense of cohesion" and "spirit" within your unit? One approach that has been used for generations across all branches of service and collegiate academia is the "spirit mission". 


Generally groups conduct spirit missions to show pride for their class, fraternity, company or squadron and are sometimes directed toward another group in an effort to create some competition between the groups. Spirit missions often occur under the cover of night, involve accomplishing something challenging, and have an heir of humor for the outside observer. The spiritedness should be creative, evident, non-destructive and not easily misconstrued as disrespectful. They should never hurt anyone or destroy property and should always be cleaned up by the initiating group in short time following discovery. Whether it be painting the rock or kidnapping another unit's mascot, a good spirit mission can really bring together members of a group and promote esprit de corps within a unit.


This week our unit detained one of the Knight's cherished suits of armor we affectionately call "Rusty". Pictures of his detention were taken and have slowly been distributed along with thoughtful ransom notes to the riled 9ATKS members. To further prod our competitors, a brandishing of 29ATKS emblems on their turf promptly ensued. The Knights did of course retaliate in kind by filling my entire office with balloons this morning. As this spirited exchange proceeds, unit pride and cohesion on both sides are thriving.


The next time your unit needs a little morale boost, find an activity outside the daily routine that focuses on teamwork and strengthening your unit's cohesion. CAF day off-sights, sports days, the ropes course and of course good old fashioned spirit missions are all good options to accomplish this. Whatever you do, raise their spirits and you will renew their desire to succeed at your unit's mission.