What’s on your “not-to-do” list this year?

  • Published
  • By Chief Master Sgt. Margarita Overton
  • 36th Wing
"Back to the Basics!" "Re-bluing the Force!" "Be a better Airman!" As we march into 2012, these statements sound like wonderful New Year's resolutions to professionalize our force. As champion of a 36th Wing priority to "Develop a Culture of Professional Airmen," I must help our Airmen understand what professionalism looks like. I believe professionalism looks like people who are technical experts in their job, who display the highest personal conduct both on and off duty and who treat their customers and each other with dignity and respect.

So, how are we doing Team Andersen? Let's take the year 2011 in review. We began by receiving an "Outstanding" rating for the Secret Internet Protocol Router Network inspection and an "Excellent" rating for its Non-classified Internet Protocol Router Network operations during the Command Cyber Readiness Inspection, and that was due to efforts from the entire installation.

Next we launched EXERCISE COPE NORTH 11-1, a two-week bilateral flying training exercise with the goal of increasing combat readiness and interoperability between the U.S. and the Japan Air Self-Defense Force. It was the largest in scope to date with more than 1,000 U.S. and JASDF members, and more than 57 aircraft, to include JASDF F-2's, E-2C Hawkeyes and F-15J Eagles; we had zero mishaps.

Then the Pacific Command Compliance Inspection team showed up in May. We laid out all of our processes and asked the team to show us where we can do things better. We received feedback on areas we could touch up, but 92 percent of our critical compliance objectives were in compliance and the wing earned an overall "Excellent" rating. I've seen the Wing improve its war fighting capability and by October we accomplished a first.

The base as a whole donned their personal protective equipment and went through a series of mission oriented protective postures to show our ability to survive during a chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear attack. We maintained safety focus and showed a sense of urgency. Last year was also the first year we incorporated face-to-face boards in our Senior Airman-Below-the-Zone promotion process. The emerging supervisory involvement, support and coaching became evident with each board which led to Airmen who were well-prepared and ultimately successful during the personal interview.

We are doing the right things and we have a reputation for marked improvement in the professionalism of our Airmen compared to prior years. Because we do so many things right, perhaps we would be better served this year to resolve on what "not to do" as opposed to what "to do." This year we can take the opportunity to eliminate bad habits, which may not necessarily be a blatant violation of standards, but could detract from our professionalism. In keeping it real, I will share with you three things I've resolved "not to do," this year. First up is: I will not answer an officer's question without preceding the answer with a Sir, Ma'am, or their rank and last name. I interact with wing leadership on a daily basis and I have to admit I can do a better job of not creating a perception of too much familiarity.

If I neglect this simple courtesy, I set a permissive environment for Airmen who do not engage with officers as frequently as I do. Second: I will not use slang vernacular in place of proper terms of address. Its dining facility, boxed meals and fitness center not chow hall, box nasty's or gym. It's Senior Master Sgt or Sergeant and Lieutenant not Senior or L.T. It's Airmen not troops. Using the proper terms may seem like a little thing, but it's the little things that we condone that could lead to bigger things later. Third, I will not wear my personal physical training clothing if I'm working out during peak duty hours. Even though the Air Force Instruction states that we are only required to wear the Air Force PT uniform during organized PT, if fitness is part of my duty, why not wear my AFPTU while working out during the duty day? I see many of our Airmen wearing their AFPTU and as a leader I let them know, I'm part of them and I wear the same uniform they do.

Last month during his quarterly all call, Brig. Gen. John Doucette, 36th Wing commander, shared with us the results from the yearly Gallup poll where American society has consistently given the military the highest confidence ratings, since 1986, in comparison to the police, the presidency or even the U.S. Supreme court. I firmly believe it is because of the professionalism of our people. I've shared with you my three "not-to-do" items for this year to enhance my professionalism, which now makes you an accountability partner to help me to stay on track. I'm curious to know what three things you will resolve "not to do" in 2012. Feel free to use the comment option to share pet peeves or bad habits you've seen detract from military professionalism. I'm extremely proud to be a part of this great team and I look forward to what we will accomplish together as we continue to emphasize a culture of professional Airmen.