Thoughts on the Air Force Core Values

  • Published
  • By Maj. Samuel Miller
  • 22nd Communications Squadron
Integrity First, Service Before Self, Excellence in All We Do.

Most of us have had the Air Force core values instilled in us since we came through basic military training or its officer equivalent. I still have my original copy of the "Little Blue Book" I was given in the Reserve Officer training Corps that provides a detailed breakdown of the core values, and for years I have strived to live accordingly. However, it was only recently that I put any significant thought into why we have the core values in the first place, and it came to me that these values provide answers to three very significant questions.

Who are we? Integrity First. Our ability as individuals to provide honest feedback is what allows us to grow as a force. Having the courage to live up to our responsibilities, being accountable for our actions and shortcomings, to provide true feedback when required, and then to have the humility to accept that feedback when given to us. This is how we solve the problems that hold us back as an institution. If we are not fundamentally Airmen of integrity, we stop growing, and stand to lose our edge as a highly capable fighting force.

What do we do? Service Before Self. As individuals, we must always remember that we serve a cause much greater than ourselves: the support and defense of the Constitution of the United States. The rules, standards, missions, and taskings given to us all lead, in the bigger picture, to the successful accomplishment of our service. It is incumbent upon each of us to ensure that we follow this guidance to the best of our ability. Additionally, we all work beside a number of other fellow servicemen and women who are working toward the same cause. Creating a respective, inclusive, and tolerant workplace climate despite our inherent differences is conducive to an environment where we can all successfully serve our nation.

How do we do it? Excellence in All We Do. We owe it to those taxpayers who provide our salaries to give them our best. This encompasses not only what we provide in terms of warfighting capability, but also how we maintain our bodies, minds, and the resources given to us to accomplish our mission. Additionally, we represent this nation both at home and abroad. How we carry ourselves in both of these communities reflects upon the Air Force as an institution; any one of us has the ability to leave a positive or a negative impression that can impact the success of those who follow.

Translating these Core Values into our day-to-day actions is always a challenge as we carry out our respective missions, but we must always strive to live up to the standards they imply. Fundamentally, these values are what allows us, and will continue to allow us, to be the most powerful Air Force this world has ever known.