COLUMBUS AIR FORCEB BASE, Miss. — When I think about our Core Values of Integrity First, Service Before Self, Excellence in All We Do, I can’t help but think there is one word that sums all of these up: credibility.
Merriam Webster defines credibility as the quality of being believed or accepted as true, real, or honest. We use our core values to inspire and challenge us to be our very best, but its our credibility from their practical application that ultimately defines mission success.
Integrity first: Everyday we carry out our unit’s mission in a way that is honest and morally right. At the end of the day when we take time to reflect, we know whether or not we did all that we could do and if we put in an honest day’s work. We also know that, despite our best efforts to do the right thing, a part of life is making mistakes. As a T-6 Instructor Pilot in the 41stFlying Training Squadron I see and debrief students on common mistakes daily.
Learning to become a pilot is challenging and mistakes are part of that process. Successful students are able to admit and recognize mistakes made during training sorties and then apply the lessons learned to future flights. Instructors make mistakes too, and whether or not the student flying with the instructor says something, you can bet they are aware of the mistake and are watching to see how the instructor handles it. Having the personal integrity and being humble enough to admit your own mistake is just as important because it reflects on the credibility of our instructor force.
Service before self: In the military we have the sworn responsibility to serve. We sacrifice a lot in the defense of this great nation and often times we are called upon to put our work and the mission before personal satisfaction. This means occasionally being away from home on weekends, birthdays, holidays and other significant events because it is what each of us has volunteered to do. While not always easy, we must keep the service aspect in perspective and have faith in the system.
Credibility comes into play as we also have the responsibility to serve the people we command and or supervise. We should never ask our people to do something we are not willing to do or participate in ourselves because if we do that, our people will see that we are putting ourselves first or using others to advance our own personal agenda. When this happens, not only do we jeopardize our personal credibility, we also create a toxic environment that is not conducive to effectively executing the mission.
Excellence in all we do: Every Airman and organization that makes up Team BLAZE shares in the responsibility of carrying out the wing’s mission to “Produce Pilots, Advance Airmen and Feed the Fight.” Regardless of rank, Air Force Specialty Code, or duty title, it is everyone’s responsibility to be competent and credible in his or her respective craft. This means being the subject matter expert and adhering to Air Force Instructions, technical orders, regulations and procedures. There is always someone else either in your unit or from another that is depending on you to provide them with accurate information, service or instruction. Being personally accountable and credible enhances excellence, which directly correlates to mission success.
It amazes me the credibility the uniform of the United States Air Force carries with it around the world. On my first day as a forward deployed Director of Operations at an Air Operations Center in the Central Command Area of Responsibility, I was asked by the Host Nation leadership to assist with a time critical issue. I had not even logged into the computer or had a chance to meet everyone, but within minutes I was making phone calls and working with other Air Force personnel and assets to remedy a situation. When I presented a recommended course of action to the Host Nation leadership they did not hesitate to act on it.
Later on after things had calmed down they made it a point to let my team and myself know that they trusted us because as they put it, “the Air Force knows what they are doing.” That show of faith is a huge testament to the integrity, service and excellence of the Airmen that filled that role before us and is what makes our Air Force a credible commodity around the world.