New Air Force motto: 'Aim High ... Fly-Fight-Win'

Air Force Graphic

Air Force Graphic

WASHINGTON, D.C. (AFNS) -- Airmen from all ranks and career fields selected "Aim High ... Fly-Fight-Win" as the service's new motto, Air Force officials announced Oct. 7.

An enduring statement of Airmen's pride in their service, the motto is a two-part expression -- a call to action, with a response of commitment, said Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz.

"The call and the response are two sides of the same coin," General Schwartz said. "Airmen indicated 'Aim High' and the response 'Fly-Fight-Win' as indicative of their enduring commitment to do just that in defense of our nation."

When the Air Force motto team embarked on the project, they committed to Airmen buy-in in an inclusive, well-researched effort, rooted in Air Force culture and identity.

"Airmen recognize a motto should represent something enduring," General Schwartz said. "It must be bigger than any single person, something that gives voice to the pride of service of all who've worn this nation's Air Force uniform -- past, present, and future."

"We took the time to try to get this right," General Schwartz said. "A service motto belongs to those who serve, and we've done our best to give voice to how Airmen feel about serving this nation."

Assisting in the motto research effort were Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James Roy, Public Affairs Director Col. Les Kodlick, Force Management Policy Director Brig. Gen. Sharon Dunbar and Air Force Recruiting Service Commander Brig. Gen. Balan Ayar.

The motto team began nearly nine months of research in early 2010, meeting extensively with 300 Airmen from active-duty, Reserve and Air National Guard components in each major command who encompassed a wide variety of Air Force specialties. Airmen described to the team what they thought it means to be an Airman, to serve, and what they felt is unique about the Air Force.

"The exhaustive research process showed that Airmen share a core set of identity concepts that serve as a basis for an Air Force motto," said Gen. Stephen Lorenz, commander of Air Education and Training Command. "No matter what career field ... Airmen consistently told us they see themselves, and they see the heritage of the Air Force, as those entrusted by the nation to defend the modern, complex security domains -- first air, then space and now cyberspace. Airmen take this sense of mission very seriously."

An Air Force-wide survey to validate and quantify input from discussions indicated Airmen have a shared pride in their abilities to adapt to meet any threat and they feel empowered to bring innovation and excellence to the mission of national defense.

After understanding the shared identity, the motto team began transforming words and concepts into a unifying, enduring and credible motto, said Lt. Col. Clark Groves, lead scientist for the project.

"The research team held more meetings with nearly 250 Airmen on bases in each major command, discussing scores of identifying words and concepts tied to the core Airman identity," he explained. "These discussions, information from Air Force historical archives and input from total force Airmen, Air Force civilians, retired Airmen, and the public provided the basis for identifying the ideal motto candidates."

That led to an Air Force-wide survey. Five potential mottos emerged and were presented during CORONA at the Air Force Academy for final consideration.

"This really was a process grounded in inputs from Airmen," Colonel Groves said. "We went Air Force wide four times, including face-to-face discussions at bases in every major command twice and in two Air Force-wide surveys."

Airmen can expect to gradually hear and see more of the motto as it is included in Air Force presentations, correspondence and products. It will also be introduced in the coming year into basic military training, professional military education, ROTC and Academy courses.

"This motto encompasses what Airmen say about what it means to serve in this great Air Force," Chief Roy said. "'Aim High ... Fly-Fight-Win' gives our service a and lasting tradition for voicing our pride.

The chief noted an important distinction between slogans and mottos.

"Slogans and ad phrases come and go, but a motto is meant to be passed from one generation of Airmen to another," Chief Roy said. "This is for the hundreds of thousands of Airmen who now serve, who have served, and who will serve in the future."