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NEWS | March 14, 2008

The Little Blue Book

By Robert Sperling Air Force District of Washington Public Affairs

On my desk is a simple reminder of what it is that we, as members of this United States Air Force, are about. A small pamphlet titled, "United States Air Force Core Values, 1 January 1997." This is my technical order for providing Superior Service each and every day. On the first page it reads:

"The Core Values exist for all members of the Air Force family - officer, enlisted, and civilian; active, reserve, guard and retired; senior, junior, and middle management; civil servants, uniformed personnel; and contractors. They are for all of us to read, to understand, to live by, and to cherish.
The Core Values are much more than minimum standards. They remind us what it takes to get the mission done. They inspire us to do our very best at all times. They are the common bond among all comrades in arms, and they are the glue that unifies the force and ties us to the great warriors and public servants past."

This 25-page booklet was issued to me when I arrived late one evening to a strange and frightening place called Lackland Air Force Base, Texas. That evening, which all of us who have worn stripes on our sleeves will remember for the rest of our lives, poured the foundation of our careers with three small words: Integrity - Service - Excellence. Eleven-years later, as an Air Force leader, I rely on this set of values more than ever.

Integrity is that voice inside your head that asks the question, "Is this the right thing to do in this situation?" This value is the litmus test for the daily decisions that we make and ensures that the actions we take as Airmen will ultimately further the moral standards of our force.

Service is ensuring that the actions we take speak the words we want them to. When wearing the "uniform," we are the United States Air Force and not Bob or Jane. Our personal desires are left on the nightstand for us to pick up when we return home.

Excellence. This to me is self-explanatory, and I view it very simply as doing every task that I undertake to the best of my ability. It states that every Airman will strive to do their best and continually strive for personal and professional development in all aspects of their life: emotional, spiritual, professional and personal.

How do the Air Force's Core Values affect your daily life? Have you served under the umbrella of Integrity, Service, and Excellence? Revisit your "Little Blue Book," whatever that should be, and refresh your mind and soul.

Everyday our peers, subordinates, leaders and customers look to us for service, guidance and leadership. Are we good stewards of the Air Force Core Values as we provide them with Superior Service? I submit that the Air Force Core Values are the price of admission into the United States Air Force.