As Airmen, we take pride in the quality work product and superior performance that naturally accompanies everything we set out to do. How is it though that these characteristics have become so deeply woven into the fabric of our existence as an organization?
“Excellence in all we do.” If we desire to satisfy this core value, we must establish a set of rules we can use to guide us to the success each of us hopes to achieve. It is for this reason the Air Force has set very specific standards to regulate not only our behavior but also the more inconsequential dealings of our day-to-day lives.
Using a word like regulate makes it seem so menacing. Some might think it makes the Air Force sound like an imposing stepmother who forces her frightened subjects to conform to her unreasonable demands. This is most certainly not the motive of the Air Force when it strives to set its members on the road to success. The standards the Air Force have established are in place to show members exactly what the Air Force expects, so there is no doubt about how to become a successful Airman.
Air Force Instruction 1-1 explains with exceptional clarity how it expects its members to live; the spectrum ranging from personal grooming to behavior on social media all the way to financial responsibility. It should come as no surprise that this instruction is so appropriately named the frontrunner among all other AFIs. Without the standards we’re expected to uphold, there would be nothing but a uniform to distinguish us from the rest of the world.
The Air Force prides itself in its professionalism. This reputation could never have been achieved, if not for the diligent adherence to the standards set by previous Air Force leaders. Through their vision they established the standards necessary to shape the outstanding force we have today. It is our responsibility to ensure we stand unwavering in the discipline required to maintain the high expectations of past and present Air Force leaders, and ultimately the American people.
The consequences of deviating from the standards set for Airmen can be severe. AFI 1-1 is directive in nature, meaning failure to adhere to the standards expected of Airmen can lead to punishment under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Perhaps worse than the individual consequences a member can receive for departing from standards is the damage those actions can have on the Air Force as a whole. Morale can be impacted, unit cohesion can suffer and the image of the Air Force can begin to dwindle in the eyes of the public if Airmen fall short of these expectations.
It is critical Airmen clearly understand what’s expected of them, and the standards they have a responsibility to meet. If Airmen fail in this respect, the core of our existence as an organization will be compromised, and we will ultimately fail in the end. However, if Airmen continue to live up to the standards set by past and present leaders they will be able to serve as a pivotal component of the world’s greatest Air Force.