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Personal accountability: You’re in charge

  • Published
  • By Col. Steven Miller
  • 90th Security Forces Group commander
There are many enduring values we hold dear in our Air Force. As Airmen in Air Force Global Strike Command, we only have to look as far as our core values to find the three most common. Integrity First, Service Before Self and Excellence in All We Do. If we had a fourth core value, I believe it would be personal responsibility. After all, aren't we all responsible and accountable for our individual actions and decisions? It may seem obvious to most, but in my travels around our great Air Force, I reluctantly admit that the era of personal responsibility championed by General John Jumper, former Chief of Staff of the Air Force, may be going the way of total quality management.

Let me begin with a simple example. If you happen to show up few minutes late for work, do you accept responsibility for it, or do you offer an excuse? Based on my command experiences, an excuse is usually more likely. What happened to simply stating "I was late because I slept in?" When the simple excuse is given so readily, making an excuse for something more important gets easier. Let me put it more directly; if you can't tell the truth about something simple, how are you going to be truthful when the pressure's on? Think of all of the tough things we do as Airmen every day. From filling vital prescriptions in the pharmacy to rigidly following maintenance and operations tasking orders in the missile field, we depend on our Airmen's personal responsibility in everything we do.

I firmly believe the single best predictor of future performance is past performance. Let's explore this a little further. Are you the type of Airman who is reliable, dependable and hardworking? If you are, how did you get that way? Did your reputation happen overnight, or did you earn it day by day? My bet is you did it the old-fashioned way, one day at a time.
Personal responsibility works the same way. You build your personal credibility each day. You're not going to be considered a responsible Airman if you're responsible one day and not the next. Even though the consequences vary significantly with the choices you make each day, the decision to be personally responsible for those decisions never varies, it's always constant. Never forget, you're solely responsible for making those decisions.

What does personal responsibility mean to you? Are you personally responsible for your actions both on-and off-duty? Do you draw a line between duty-time and off-duty time? If you do, you might want to take a look at your Oath of Enlistment/Office or the Airman's Creed. From my perspective, we're on duty 24/7. Ask yourself these questions and answer them while you're staring at yourself in the mirror. Can you live with the answers, or better yet; can the nation live with your answers? Always remember, you're in charge when it comes to personal responsibility.