Tag Archives: integrity

Always an Airman

By 1st Lt. David Liapis
39th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

I am an Airman, but only from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday and occasionally on the weekend. The rest of the time, I am just a person trying to have a good time. What I do during my off duty time doesn’t have any bearing on my military career, nor should it.

“Say what?!” you might ask. And, rightfully so.
Airmen are Airmen whether in uniform or not, and should ensure their conduct always meets and exceeds the standards of the Air Force they represent

The truth is I don’t believe that statement one bit. However, there are a handful of Airmen who do.

“So, why write a commentary directed at a very small percentage of the Air Force population?” you might wonder.

I’ll tell you why. Because even if we’re not one of those few Airman, we may very well supervise, work with, or even for, one of those Airmen. We all have the opportunity and responsibility to promote a culture where we embrace an “Always an Airman” concept.

Being an Airman is not just a job, it’s a way of life. Serving in the United States Air Force is a privilege that is sometimes taken for granted. Yes, we all volunteered to be here; but the Air Force put us through basic military training and verified we could meet the standards required of those worthy of wearing the uniform. That training and evaluation continues throughout our careers, and the standards are never lowered to match the lowest common denominator.

Our conduct must meet these standards all the time, and not just while we are accomplishing duty-related tasks. We can joke all we want about the phrase, “there is no off duty” because for some Airmen that feels like the story of their lives working 12-16 hour days. All joking aside however, the responsibilities that come with being an Airman don’t have a start and finish time.

I’m sure you’ve heard someone say: “All Airmen are ambassadors,” especially in relation to overseas assignments. This cliche statement could not be truer and relates directly to our conduct. Take a look at the recent cheating and drug abuse scandals. Do you think the actions of a handful of Airmen who failed to meet the standards both on and off duty tarnishes the image of the entire force? Absolutely. Any time an Airman makes the news for doing something wrong, it’s a blow to the credibility of our team. It’s our responsibility to do all we can to not only meet, but exceed the standards. As we do so, we build trust, support and credibility at home and abroad.

We don’t claim to be the greatest Air Force in the world because someone suggested that might be true. We claim it because it is true. And why is it true? Because of the collective efforts of individual Airmen who strive to be the best Airmen we can be all the time and ensure the headlines proclaim all the good we do all over the world on a daily basis.

We have to Step Up 24/7 and seize every opportunity to excel through training, education and professional development. We must Step In 24/7 and eradicate sexual assault, alcohol abuse and misuse, and suicide from our Air Force. We have been empowered by our leadership to be a part of the solution, so let’s own it!

Here’s my personal Airman’s creed: I am always an Airman. This is MY Air Force. I represent it 24/7, and I will do everything within my power to ensure I and every Airman represents it well.

Will you join me?

PHOTO: Senior Airman Chase Hedrick, 39th Air Base Wing Public Affairs photojournalist, observes his reflection Feb. 3, 2013, at Incirlik Air Base Turkey. Airmen are Airmen whether in uniform or not, and should ensure their conduct always meets and exceeds the standards of the Air Force they represent. (U.S. Air Force photo illustration by Airman 1st Class Nicole Sikorski/Released)

Strengthening our core


 Integrity, Service, ExcellenceBy Col. Jim Dryjanski
National War College

The greatest threat to the United States Air Force right now is not external. It is from within. The allegations of sexual misconduct at Lackland Air Force Base splashed across the news will undoubtedly be fully investigated and criminal behavior will be prosecuted appropriately.

The victims will be heard and they will be cared for, but the bell cannot be unrung. The reverberations from “Jerry Springer-esque” moral failure can shake public trust.

Senior leaders of our Air Force and the Department of Defense will look deeply, far beyond the current trial, to see if there are any institutional root causes in climate, leadership, training and oversight that need to be addressed.

We can expect some necessary actions to be taken, but will disciplinary action or the implementation of recommendations from various independent top-down strategic reviews be sufficient? Probably not, if we as Airmen don’t recognize the moral battle being waged or fail to act from the grassroots-level to strengthen our core. The stakes are incredibly high–so should be our attention and urgency.

Lackland Air Force Base is known as the “Gateway to the Air Force.” Every enlisted trainee must pass through this training crucible in order to earn the title of “Airman.” The center of our identity as Airmen is found in our core values: Integrity first, Service before Self, and Excellence in all we do. Every Airmen can spout these core values…Integrity, Service, Excellence are easy to remember and easy to say, just as former Chief of Staff of the Air Force, General Fogleman designed them. So what’s the problem?

The words Integrity, Service, and Excellence are ubiquitous in our Air Force. Like the sound of a dripping faucet they can fade into the background over time. They are on power point slides, on wall-hangings in various offices, and they are all over the social media outlets of our Service. But, are they only words? Only words to be recited in speeches by commanders and enlisted leaders? Only words to be cited by those very same leaders when an Airmen breaks a rule or regulation?

Yes, they are…if we let them be. If we lose sight of the moral truth that our core values are grounded in, these mere words of Integrity, Service, and Excellence lose their true meaning and true power.

Sunshine is often the best antiseptic. Increasing transparency of our training and strengthening the accountability of our instructors at Basic Military Training in this light will help. But, more broadly, all Airmen in our Air Force should use this opportunity to illuminate why our Core Values are much more than mere words.

Let’s be clear about one thing, the vast majority of our Airmen–like their joint brothers and sisters in arms, are honorably serving our nation at a very critical time in our history. They are among the very best our nation has to offer, and they are making the extraordinary look ordinary around the globe every single day. That said, no Airman is exempt from the temptation in life to do the easier wrong, rather than the harder right. We must be prepared to win this battle every single day..

It is up to Airmen–wingmen, leaders, warriors to calibrate our moral compasses to true north and give life to our Core Values where the rubber meets the road during our toughest times.. Lou Holtz, former head football coach at Notre Dame, had a great way of boiling complex ideas down to their essence. He has said there are three questions people have when they meet you.

Can I trust you?
Do you care about me?
Are you committed to excellence?

If “yes” is the answer to those questions, people want you on their team. How do you get to “yes?” Holtz has three rules to live by.

Do the right thing.
Care about people.
Do your best.

Simple and profound rules to live by and strengthen our core and our team: Integrity First, Service before Self, and Excellence in all we do.

Aim High…Fly, Fight and Win!

Photos: The Air Force core values are integrity first, service before self and excellence in all we do.  (U.S. Air Force graphic by Senior Airman Benjamin Stratton)

Hold the Line: We live in a fishbowl

by Chief Master Sgt. Cynthia M. Solomito
AFGLSC Command Chief

Have you ever walked through a store parking lot in uniform and had someone stop you to say, “Thank you for your service”? Have you walked through the airport in uniform while deploying and had other travelers stop and shake your hand? As military members we represent our units, our service and each other. Military members stand out in a crowd.

One day I experienced a different situation. I was driving to work and stopped at the local gas station to get gas. As I was standing by my SUV at the pumps, I saw a car pull into a parking spot by the store. An Airman jumped out of a car with just his t-shirt and ABU pants, no shirt and no hat. Before I could do anything, he came out with a cup of coffee and package of cigarettes, jumped in his car and took off. As fate would have it, he had a pretty recognizable car so I asked the first sergeants if any of them knew the Airman. He was attending Airman Leadership School. My plan was to stop by ALS and just talk to him for minute. It’s funny how we know when we have done something wrong (what is the definition of integrity?) because as soon as he saw me he knew what I was going to say. The conversation was short and I asked one question: why? Does the answer really matter? He knew it was wrong and made the choice to disregard our dress and appearance standards. Some Airmen would turn their head and not address the issue. Do two wrongs make a right?

I believe we live in a fishbowl and our behavior is watched where ever we go. Our country places high standards on the men and women of the United States military and they expect us to be above reproach at all times. You never know who is looking. Let’s face it — with technological advancements over the past years, nothing is secret. Look at the YouTube videos, cell phone pictures and Facebook conversations that find their way into the media. The military has been in the news quite a lot the past year with our people displaying some questionable behaviors. One bad act can completely ruin our image and overshadow all the wonderful things our men and women have accomplished. Are we ready to face the consequences of our actions?

So what is my point? We are an all volunteer force; no one can make us enlist. When we are at basic military training we learn standards and are taught the difference between acceptable and unacceptable behavior. When we have doubts, we even have an Airmen’s Owner’s Manual, otherwise known as AFI 36-2618, The Enlisted Force Structure. Beyond what we have been taught we need to do the right thing and hold the line. Ask yourself, “Would my actions make my mother, father, sister, brother, spouse or fellow Airmen happy?”

It takes Airmen from every specialty to get the job done

by Lt. Gen. David Goldfein
Commander, U.S. Air Forces Central Command

Recently, two of our U.S. Air Forces Central Command Airmen were criticized
online by other Airmen for receiving Bronze Star decorations after completion of their
deployments to Afghanistan.

I’d like to take this opportunity to explain the rigorous awards board process and emphasize the meticulous manner in which we ensure each award is justifiable and each recipient is worthy.

We recognize and honor our Airmen for their meritorious and heroic actions.

Lt. Gen. David Goldfein

My AFCENT staff oversees a thorough awards approval process to ensure medals
are presented to only the most commendable candidates. This 20-year
decoration process has a demonstrated history of consistency, and we work
hard to maintain its integrity.

Led by a general officer, the board of combat-experienced colonels and chief master sergeants carefully and deliberately guarantee our Airmen deserve the awards they receive.

I am the final approving authority for each medal.

Every day, our innovative Airmen excel in the deployed environment.

Consider the security forces Airman who helped protect his base from more than 2,500
disgruntled Afghan citizens. He stood his ground, despite suffering detached
retinas, body bruises from thrown rocks and face wounds from high-powered
pellet rifles.

Or the KC-135 maintainer who worked in minus-20-degree temperatures to
extend the range and flexibility of our combat aircraft, which provide close
air support to protect coalition ground forces battling insurgents.

Or the finance officer who worked alongside special operations forces. She
executed $160 million in operational funds across eight remote forward
operating bases in support of counterinsurgency operations.

Or the combat controller who faced enemy fire and placed himself at grave risk on four
occasions while controlling more than 30 aircraft and more than 40 airstrikes.

These are just a few examples of achievements that we reward in AFCENT.

No one Air Force specialty code is any more important than the next in this
theater — it takes the entire team working together to get the job done.

Airmen like Tech. Sgt. Christina Gamez and Tech Sgt. Sharma Haynes are the
bedrock of our organization.

While we face a determined enemy, he is no match for this combined arms
team. Together, with laser-like focus on our mission, with the knowledge
that no challenge we may face is too much for innovative Airmen, and
knowing that our cause is just … we will continue to deliver decisive
airpower for CENTCOM and America.