Air Force

April 24, 2014

See evil, hear evil, speak up

Sandra D. Hanway
90th Missile Wing deputy inspector general

F.E. WARREN AIR FORCE BASE, Wyo. (AFNS) – Everyone has met one or two Airmen who agree with their leaders’ decisions even though the decisions are against Air Force policies or directives.

They refuse to speak up about the violation and would rather follow orders because they don’t want to rock the boat. They may even think their input won’t matter, so why bother?

Following the orders of the officers appointed over them is what military members are trained to do. So why rock the boat?

Your decision to not address violations of Air Force instructions, policies or directives to your chain of command can come with consequences.

As cases have come across my desk, it is unfortunate to see that individuals truly felt they were doing the right thing by not rocking the boat. Their inaction has caused them to also be in violation of Air Force instructions and possibly abusing their authority.

Standing up for your Airmen, or even for yourself, when you see wrongdoings should not be viewed as defiance. We have the authority to speak out and we are expected to provide constructive inputs, support our leaders and report wrongdoing.

You may be saying it’s easier said than done. In a sense, you are correct. It seems that professionalism on both sides of the fence is sometimes not considered when addressing these concerns. Individuals may even take it personal because someone is questioning their authority. Some may be viewed as troublemakers, whiners, cry babies and sometimes may be called a whistleblower.

Tensions could surely run high and outbursts during heated discussions may even be perceived as disrespect to your superiors. Maintaining your military bearing should always be at the forefront when you are faced with these types of situations. Informing someone that they are in violation should not be a battle of wills, but a union to ensure that everyone is following all Air Force processes.

I’ve heard it a number of times, “You just don’t understand, it’s my career on the line.”

But what service members may not understand is that they’ve just become part of the problem. Not correcting violations can result with the possible failure of the mission. Ensuring everyone follows procedures and immediately corrects violations is what makes us professional Airmen and mission ready.

So, next time someone tells you to not rock the boat, do the right thing. Lead by example. Display strong leadership skills by not looking away. Always maintain your professionalism, provide appropriate guidance and be the best leader you can be. Airmen will respect you for it.




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(U.S. Air Force Illustration by Airman 1st Class Cheyenne Morigeau)

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