In today’s Air Force we are smaller in numbers and expected to do great work in support of the warfighting mission. Commanders and supervisors deal with personnel issue’s on a daily basis and expect everyone to have the integrity to do what is right to ensure the mission succeeds.
Why then do commanders and supervisors have the duty to perform counseling sessions? What is the duty of the member that was counseled, and why is it so important to the supervisor? This responsibility has never been more important than now for both the counselor and the counselee.
In accordance with Air Force Instruction 36-2907, Unfavorable Information File Program, the intended purpose of counseling, admonitions and reprimands is “to improve, correct and instruct subordinates who depart from standards of performance, conduct, bearing and integrity, on or off duty, and whose actions degrade the individual and unit’s mission.”
So, it is the duty of commanders and supervisors to assist their Airmen in changing negative behavior to ensure the unit meets the mission.
AFI 36-2907 also states, “Counseling helps people use good judgment, assume responsibility, and face and solve problems. Counselors assist subordinates in developing skills, attitudes and behaviors that are consistent with maintaining the Air Force’s readiness.” Supervisors do not have the time to deal with negative behavior; I am sure we would all rather be reinforcing positive behavior, but we have a responsibility, as supervisors, to help our Airmen. We should not only help them change negative behavior but help them understand the importance of the rebuttal.
It amazes me as a flight chief, supervisor, mentor and fellow Airman that no matter how many times I brief my Airmen on the importance of completing a rebuttal that probably 25 percent will not take the three days to write one out. The rebuttal does not have to be a novel, it can be as simply saying, “I accept full responsibility for my behavior and this will never happen again.”
Presenting this type of rebuttal speaks to your values, character and credibility, and implies you care about your career, the standards you are expected to uphold and the Air Force. Not supplying a rebuttal in writing implies you don’t care or don’t support the standards. Future supervisors who may review your derogatory file might assume that you don’t care about your career, standards and maybe you have not fully corrected your negative behavior. Also, your rebuttal may be taken into consideration later on when other pending actions may arise or if the commander and supervisor want to remove the counseling from the file.
To all counselors, continue to correct negative and reinforce positive behaviors with the tools provided. Continue to mentor your Airmen to submit rebuttals. To counselees, complete rebuttals in writing, and change your behavior — it is your career.