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NEWS | April 14, 2011

Back to the Basics - "Diamond Compliance Corner" Apr.15 -Apr. 22

By Master Sgt. Christopher M. Williams 779th Surgical Operations Squadro first sergeant

Question: Have you ever said to yourself, "what's the problem with some of these young Airmen/officers today?" But, are we really asking if our military members today have very little or no respect? Each and every new Air Force member enters some form of basic military instruction at one point in their Air Force career. These instructions include, but are not limited to, what we call customs and courtesies. These courses teach the skills that are the foundation of our military to include military etiquette, saluting, and respect and recognition. First let's talk about military etiquette.

AFPAM 36-2241 The Professional Development Guide Section 8.7 defines etiquette as common everyday courtesy. The military world, like the civilian world, functions more smoothly and pleasantly when members practice good manners. Other aspects of good military etiquette are: being on time, saying please and thank you, no gossiping, and addressing civilian and military personnel with their appropriate title, i.e., sir, ma'am, Mr. or Mrs. and their last name. Can you name an Airman or officer, fresh from their respective basic military instruction unit, who has not practiced good manners? I personally, cannot. 

What I have experienced is a change in some of these servicemembers after being on station for roughly 6 months or so. I ask you all; is not practicing common courtesies a "learned" behavior? During initial training, good military behavior was instilled and enforced but somehow attitudes changed upon arrival to first duty stations--but why? My thought is that customs and courtesies were not reinforced. It is imperative that we continue to reinforce and build upon the foundation that was started in their initial instruction. This begins with how we act; monkey see, monkey do! This alludes to respect, saluting and recognition.

The salute is one of the most important traditions of military heritage. AFPAM 36-2241 The Professional Development Guide Section 8.6 states that a salute is a courteous exchange of military greetings with the junior member always saluting the senior member first. A salute is also rendered to the flag as a sign of respect. There are various situations where a salute is warranted: in formation, public gatherings, work details, and moving marked vehicles. I would like to focus on saluting when outdoors.

How many times have you been walking across a parking lot and a member in either the enlisted or officer tier acts like they don't see you or avoids you? This can be looked at as a sign of disrespect. The junior member should always initiate a salute and wait for a return salute or head nod if the ranking member is unable to render a salute. If the junior member is unable to render a salute, they should use good military etiquette and render a head nod and or verbal greeting. There isn't a prescribed distance, but always use good judgment to ensure there is enough time for the ranking member to return the salute. As a sign of respect, remember to always walk to the left of higher ranking members. When entering and exiting a vehicle the junior member must enter first and exit last. Remember, even in the vehicle, you must stay to the left. Unless told otherwise, always rise and stand at attention when a senior official enters or departs a room. This is also extremely important for those working in customer service positions.

These are all small, yet vital, parts of our military culture. As members of the United States Air Force (the greatest Air Force in the world!) we should always be faithful to a proud heritage, a tradition of honor, and a legacy of valor. It is our responsibility to uphold our Airmen and ourselves to the highest standards. Again, monkey see, monkey do! Remember our core values: Integrity, Service Before Self and last but not least Excellence in all we do! If we live and abide by our Air Force customs and courtesies, both in and out of uniform, the question that I posed in the beginning would be eliminated. I challenge every Airman, Non Commissioned Officer and officer to not just "talk the talk" but also "walk the walk."

AFPAM 36-2241 The Professional Development Guide Section 8.6 Saluting
AFPAM 36-2241 The Professional Development Guide Section 8.7 Etiquette
AFPAM 36-2241 The Professional Development Guide Section 8.9 Respect and Recognition