Maintaining 3-D vision

  • Published
  • By Command Chief Master Sgt. Kevin Vegas
  • Oklahoma City Air Logistics Center
If you've been to the movies in last year the chances are you've watched one in 3-D. This old-turned-new technology is designed to make movies come to life, enhancing our viewing experience. It used to be clunky, with ugly cardboard glasses. But, the entertainment industry went "back to basics," improved this technology in the theater, and even went a step further, bringing the 3-D experience to our home televisions.

In the same way 3-D technology has made advancements by going back to basics, so has the Air Force Material Command. Several months ago, Air Force Material Command leadership implemented a "back to basics" campaign called "Hold the Line" this focuses on reinvigorating basic military standards, customs and maintaining several traditional practices.

Tinker Air Force Base's 72nd Air Base Wing has embraced this back to basics campaign by applying the 3-Ds of Dedication, Development and Discipline.
Dedicated to the Air Force's traditions, the 72nd Air Base Wing has implemented monthly retreat ceremonies so groups and squadrons can render proper respect to the flag, formally end the duty day and instill this very patriotic principle into our Airmen. These retreat ceremonies are designed to resonate with our Airmen so that long after the ceremony is over, when they hear the music, they face the flag, salute and reflect on the freedom we defend.

The 72nd Air Base Wing has also instituted formation runs that bring the entire wing together under one guideon for organized physical training. These PT sessions do more than just promote fitness, they promote esprit-de-corp; from the command "fall-in" to running alongside fellow Airmen while singing "jodies." This PT session should remind us of the various institutions (BMTS, ROTC, and AF Academy) that brought us into the Air Force as well as the pride and professionalism we felt knowing we were "in it together."

The PT sessions also affords the wing commander an opportunity to communicate directly to his Airmen in person, not electronically. This face-to-face communication has even fostered flight, branch and squadron commanders to dedicate time with their Airmen through Airmen's time, team huddles, and guardmount. These two examples of dedication to AF tradition speak volumes to the Airmen who participate and have come to understand their importance.

The enlisted force serves as the backbone of the United States Air Force and it is imperative we spend the resources developing leaders who are dedicated to our principles. Some of the ways we are developing our leaders to "Hold the Line" is by restructuring the curriculum at our First Term Airmen's Center (FTAC) and NCO Professional Enhancement Seminars (NCOPES). The five-day FTAC program is designed to aid all first-duty-stationed Airmen with their transition into the operational Air Force. We want to offer Airmen an opportunity to resolve any issues before they start their jobs so they can be focused on the mission. However, we have also included daily roll calls in the morning, uniform inspections and instruction outside of the class room on customs and courtesies. This is done in an effort to re-enforce the skills, knowledge, and training our Airmen gained from technical school and basic training.

This type of institutionalized development carries over into the other enlisted levels by means of the NCOPES where, not only are leadership and management taught, but military heritage, customs/ courtesies, and the enlisted force structure. The focus of this seminar is to "re-blue" staff sergeants and technical sergeants who haven't attended formal Professional Military Education within the last three years. I have often been a part of these seminars and the feedback I have received has been overwhelmingly positive.

After one of the seminars, a staff sergeant of eight years made a very profound statement, "Chief, after attending this seminar, I realize that I've never joined the AF." I asked him to elaborate, he said, "Even though I had enlisted I never really joined the AF. I never committed to its traditions and its principles." This NCO got exactly what we were hoping to achieve with this seminar - a renewed sense of confidence and commitment to the Air Force.

An additional development method used to reinvigorate military standards is the return of face-to-face boards. The 72nd ABW's recognition awards and Below-the-Zone promotion selection requires each Airman to appear before a panel of senior enlisted leaders who evaluate the nominee's dress/appearance, bearing, communication skills and knowledge of Air Force leadership. This critical evaluation process prompts Airmen to spend time self-improving by studying AFP 36-2241, The Professional Development Guide, and fosters interaction between supervisors and subordinates as they prepare for the board. The involvement of the supervisor in preparing their Airman for the board is critical and directly correlates to the Airman's success. This type of supervisor commitment in their subordinate's development is one of the many attributes of this back to basics initiative.

When it came do discipline, General George Patton Jr. said, "You cannot be disciplined in great things and undisciplined in the small things. Brave undisciplined men have no chance against the discipline and valor of other men." General Patton's words still ring true today. Discipline is a cornerstone of the foundation from which we, the military as an institution, operate. We can provide the most advanced weaponry and latest technology, but without discipline we are doomed to failure.

Self-Discipline is the most fundamental component of getting back to basics to "Hold the Line." It means holding ourselves accountable and doing what needs to be done even when we may not be motivated. For example, getting up at "O dark-thirty" for PT, making sure our uniform is squared and completing our professional military education. Another form of discipline, as I learned from First Sergeant, Master Sgt. Jeffrey Baxter is progressive discipline. Progressive discipline is corrective in nature and designed to get Airmen back on the right path before they are on the road outside of the gate.

Progressive discipline can be applied as a preventive tool - first, by establishing and communicating the standards to your Airmen. Letting them know what your expectations are and then striving to gain credibility by leading by example and "walking the walk."

Second, you need to monitor their behavior and performance to ensure your Airmen do not cross the line. Feedback can be used to explain when your Airman fails to meet or exceed the standards. This can also decrease the need to administer punishment. The third step is to apply discipline. It is safe to say that none of us joined the Air Force to fail. We joined to fulfill a personal goal a commitment to something much larger than ourselves. No matter the reason, we each took this obligation knowing it came with a level of responsibility not only to ourselves but, our fellow Airmen.

The 3-Ds of Dedication, Development and Discipline assist us in getting "back to the basics" so we may build on our great foundation as we advance forward as an Air Force. It is the professional Airmen, under our charge, who will carry on this proud heritage we must dedicate time developing and disciplining them so they can "Hold the Line."