HPO summit maximizes battlefield Airman performance

  • Published
  • 93 AGOW

The 93d Air Ground Operations Wing hosted a Human Performance Optimization (HPO) summit at Moody Air Force Base, Georgia, Feb. 13-15, 2024.

HPO teams are comprised of physical therapists, strength and conditioning coaches, licensed clinical social workers and True North mental health and religious support specialists embedded within each 93d AGOW unit to maximize the physical and mental attributes of human weapon systems.

Throughout the summit, participants received career field instruction, shared best practices, standardized methods of support and collaborated to advance HPO programs.

“We’re really looking into how we increase the performance of our teams across all the pillars, so we can ensure their ability to perform outmatches the environment they’re in and the adversary they’re up against, because we’ve trained to a higher level,” said Lt. Col. Ronald Miller, 93d AGOW human performance director.

Increasing physical and cognitive performance provides Airmen battlefield advantages that build upon their tactical expertise enabling them to overcome even greater challenges.

“In a near-peer fight, we may not benefit from overt superiority in kinetic or electronic warfare as we did during much of GWOT; we’re going to need the most performance we can get out of all our capabilities, human talent most of all,” Miller said.

While mastering their specialties, these battlefield Airmen push their bodies to the limit, so HPO teams provide the expertise needed to prevent training injuries and recuperate Airmen when they need it.

“HPO helps improve their ability to train harder, perform their job duties at a higher level and decrease injuries to keep our teams fully mission capable for longer periods,” said Cody Ziegenfus, 818th Operations Support Squadron HPO physical therapist. “You have to take care of the human weapon systems to make sure that they’re operating at the highest level.”

These HPO teams specialize in combining fitness-based training with cognitive application to increase an operator’s ability to remain calm and think critically while under intense physical stress to enhance their battlefield effectiveness.

“I think that by training our operators how to best control their mindset and their attention focus, they’ll be able to withstand some of the more strenuous physical rigors that we put them under both during training and what they can expect to experience operationally,” said Lt. Col. Emily Grieser, 3rd Air Support Operations Group operational psychologist.

HPO teams have been developing techniques to move beyond their traditional functions to provide warfighters the advantages they need for future operations. During the Summit, blood flow restriction training was specifically utilized to demonstrate how to push training thresholds while minimizing risk of overuse.

“Our vision is to move beyond restore and protect, now we’re focusing on performance, because we’re going to have to be operating at the edge of our capabilities to succeed in the future fight,” Miller said. “We’re ready to wade into the unknown and start challenging ourselves to help our operators be better prepared for the next war.”