NCO reviews Creed and Charge, develops answers

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Glenn Mitchell
  • 380th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron
[Editors' note: Staff Sgt. Glenn Mitchell, deployed from Andersen, was tasked by the 380th Air Expeditionary Wing Commander to provide a written review of areas of the NCO Creed and the NCO Charge after he created a PowerPoint slideshow making fun of the new Airman Battle Uniform and e-mailed it to his friends. 

While all Airmen entering the NCO ranks now swear by the Airman's Creed, Sergeant Mitchell orignally swore by the NCO Creed and was tasked to revew his original oath.

The following is an excerpt from the 380th Air Expeditionary Wing Command Chief Master Sgt. Angelo Wilson's commentary: "At first, it seemed that Sergeant Mitchell really did not understand the consequences and the impact of his actions as well as what the Air Force expects and demands of its NCOs. After reading his review, I think you will agree Sergeant Mitchell now understands."]

I am a member of the greatest Air Force in the world today. Early in July, I made a mistake that undermined the Air Force. If I had stopped and thought about the NCO Creed and the NCO Charge, I would have determined that my actions did nothing but go against what I have been taught and value as an Airman. 

The NCO Creed and NCO Charge were made so an NCO would have a precise understanding of his responsibilities in the Air Force. I neglected those responsibilities and disrespected the backbone of the United States Air Force. Below is my understanding of how the NCO Creed and NCO Charge apply to this situation.

No one is more professional than I. I am a Noncommissioned Officer; a leader of people. I am proud of the Noncommissioned Officer corps and will, at all times, conduct myself so as to bring credit upon it.

A leader is someone who inspires others to make the right decisions when it may not be popular or easy. A leader does not commit intentional acts that make it difficult for subordinates to respect someone that has clearly humiliated himself and his position. A proud NCO does not make fun of the very corps he is honored to be a part. My actions in July were deplorable when measured against this standard; flying directly in the face of what any professional or leader strives to be.

Competence is my watchword. I will always be aware of my role as a Noncommissioned Officer. I will fulfill my responsibilities and display professionalism at all times.

The second paragraph of the creed contains the sentences, "Competence is my watchword.", and "I will always be aware of my role as a Noncommissioned Officer. I will fulfill my responsibilities and display professionalism at all times." Competence, in this case, means moral competence. I relate to this as an internal compass showing each and every person what is right and what is wrong. I temporarily lost sight of my moral compass, and as a result, I discredited myself and more importantly my Air Force family. I became the weak link in the chain, not fulfilling my responsibilities. Other members of the Air Force, above and below me, now doubt what I am and what I stand for. They have every right to question my competence and my professionalism.

I will lead by example. 

The sentence in the third paragraph, "I will lead by example", means the most to me. I have always thought of myself as someone who sets a solid example for others to follow up until this point. The example I chose to express is that it is okay to be "one of the guys" or a heckler of leadership and their policies. Being a leader means doing what is right despite the risk or ridicule needed to complete the task. Mocking the decisions of my superiors was taking the easy path and solidly against what every NCO in the Air Force stands for. In doing so, I crossed the uncrossable line placing my short sighted entertainment above the damage I would inflict against the NCO corps.

I will give all officers my maximum support to ensure mission accomplishment. I will earn their respect, obey their orders, and establish a high degree of integrity with them. I will exercise initiative in the absence of orders and will make decisive and accurate decisions. I will never compromise my integrity, nor my moral courage.

In a few minutes of fun and jest, I compromised my integrity wiping out all respect that my superiors had for me. I did not see the larger implications of what my pompous attitude put forth. Every Officer, NCO and Airmen now has ample reason to second guess my integrity, actions and morality when they are not directly there to supervise me. This will unquestionably effect mission accomplishment. It will take me working 10 times as hard and 10 times as long as any other Airman to gain a fraction of these qualities back, if they are to be gained back at all.

I will not forget that I am a Professional, a Leader, but above all a Noncommissioned Officer.

A professional does not waste his or anyone else's time spreading discontent and questioning leadership. Leaders do not put themselves in positions to have their professionalism, integrity or respect questioned. They become something larger that does not need the support of others to do what is right. Most importantly, a non-commissioned officer does not lose sight of or let something influence his moral compass.

I am charged with ensuring that personnel and resources under my control are effectively used. 

The NCO Charge is the additional responsibilities and authorities willingly accepted by every NCO. Each of the eight charges is a building block forming the pillars that support the non-commissioned officer corps and the U.S. Air Force. The NCO Charges intertwine with the NCO Creed to reinforce the concepts of integrity, duty, leadership and professionalism. It is these core tenants which I selfishly disregarded.

I am charged with remaining alert to detecting adverse morale trends and initiating corrective action within your control, providing appropriate feedback to supervisors. 

This charge drives home the basic duties of an NCO to get the mission accomplished while effectively using the tools they are given. I did not adhere to this charge when I misused a government computer and the time of the personnel under my control. I willfully wasted precious resources by asking my fellow Airman to participate in the act. I lost my integrity by not making the right decisions with the resources in my control.

I am charged with always wearing the uniform properly and insuring compliance from subordinates. 

Instead of reversing an adverse moral trend, I actively participated in one. I dropped the ball and created something that I can not correct. Instead of being a leader, as every NCO should be, I have become the person that leadership detests. 

Listening to one's moral compass will lead you away from wrong decisions. That compass must always point in the right direction for an NCO. My short sightedness clouded my judgment and prevented me from seeing my duty as highlighted in the NCO Charge: "... always wearing the uniform properly and insuring compliance from subordinates." 

Our whole purpose as NCOs is duty. Without knowing what your duty is, ensuring compliance from subordinates is difficult at best. In my case, enforcing this NCO Charge will be seen as hypocrisy by all.

I am charged with at all times presenting an image of competence, integrity, and pride -- The Image of a Professional NCO. 

I neglected one of the key ties bringing both the NCO Charge and the NCO Creed together. The charge, "I am charged at all times with presenting an image of competency, integrity, and pride - The image of a Professional NCO," is very similar to the last paragraph of the NCO Creed. Both highlight professionalism which I directly link to personal honor. My honor is damaged beyond repair but more importantly, I have damaged the honor of thousands of people whom I have never met and that do not deserve to be treated as I have treated them. 

The bulk of the NCO Charge brings together concepts necessary in the rounding out of an NCO. 

I've come to realize the charge's standards of esprit' de corps, empathy and education are complex. In writing this letter, I have realized the Air Force and being an NCO, is very complex and has many aspects to learn. 

Over the past weeks, other Airmen have offered their support and advice in this situation. Relying on the concepts in the NCO Charge provide a simple path even when outsiders do not understand. As a member of the Air Force, remembering ones core principals is critical. 

This is even truer with a NCO as we are charged with guiding the Air Force. I regret that my mistake has had such a negative impact on the enlisted corps in the Air Force, and I hope to one day make it up.