Fighter readiness was very much present during the cold war era. In the earstwhile Soviet Republic Readiness 1 will mean that the pilot will sit in the cockpit all night, readiness 2 will mean that the pilot will be dressed in the usual G equipment etc and ready to go, readiness 3 would mean that the pilot will be in the usual uniform only. They used to have atleast 1 man in the readiness 1 position.
I guess this is the case in most of the air forces...but as Jwenting said, after the cold war the USAF squads within the US became a bit too complacent (after all there was no war like situation in the country), who would dare to attack them in their country...sadly they were wrong.
Anyway Kudos to the Italian airforce