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Every unit needs a 'gung ho' reminder of why were here

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Sean White
  • 6th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs
Whether you've been in the Air Force for 6 months or 25 years, everyone has come across "that guy or girl." You know, the one who everyone thinks is too "gung-ho" and always corrects people for not wearing the uniform correctly or never let's anyone go unchecked for violating standards. You know the type. The one who everyone thinks takes things a little too seriously. If you haven't met that person, then let me introduce myself....I'm TSgt Sean White and I'm "that guy."

I didn't earn this title because I wanted people to think I was a jerk or heartless. No, this prestigious honor was placed upon me because I've always maintained and enforced standards. Believe it or not, every unit needs someone like me who is not afraid to call it how he sees it. In order to be an "enforcer" you must know your regulations and clearly establish standards by providing feedback to people.

Without providing extensive feedback sessions how are Airmen supposed to know what is expected of them? All supervisors should conduct thorough feedback with their subordinates and then set and enforce standards. The enlisted force structure takes it one step further by stating "NCO's must exceed the standards and expectations levied upon their Airman."

Too often, organizations don't have individuals willing to take a hard stance and be the "bad guy" every day. Instead, we worry about office conflicts and how others will perceive us and choose to only enforce the rules and regulations we deem critical. Whether we avoid the conflict of addressing standards because the standard seems trivial, or we aren't confident in our position to correct other Airmen, or because we fear that "bad-guy reputation," the end result is always the same...mission degradation.

Before long, your supervisor starts asking questions that have no definitive answer like "What happened" or "What's going on?" Then the blame game begins and it's the fault of the next generation of Airmen who is identified as undisciplined and unfocused. Unfortunately, all along it was the supervisor who failed to set, enforce or live by the standard who us at fault.

Don't believe me? The last time you saw an Airman with their hair out of regulations, did you correct them? What about the last time you saw someone running on a base road with headphones on? Or someone who was not wearing a reflective belt when it was dark outside? To some extent we're all to blame.

If you saw an Airman pull someone aside to point out a uniform violation how would you perceive that Airman? Are they "that guy or girl?" If a younger troop pulls you aside and points out you are out of standards, would you be upset? You shouldn't....a tad embarrassed maybe, but you should be appreciative that the Airman knows and enforces standards no matter who violates them.
In the past year, the Air Force had some major incidents that negatively affected the way the public views us. A slew of incidents, highlighted by several high-visibility mistakes, have identified underlying issues such as a lack of leadership involvement, a failure to hold people accountable, and a failure to follow written procedures.

The tail end of the United States Air Force Aerial Demonstration Team "Thunderbirds" mission statement is, 'An almost unbelievable attention to detail that touches and inspires everything that is done here.' Embrace it, we all need to focus on the details and correct minor infractions before they become bad habits. Lack of attention to detail, in some cases, can lead to safety mishaps and ultimately loss of life.

I'd like to challenge everyone to correct violations of standards on the spot and provide immediate feedback if need be. All of our problems can be easily fixed by focusing on instilling discipline and refusing to walk by problems. Essentially, we all need to get a little more comfortable being "that guy or girl."