Consilium, Virtus, Justicia: Guiding principles for living the core values

  • Published
  • By Maj. Jim Annexstad
  • 71st Flying Training Wing Staff Judge Advocate
This will be my last commentary as the Staff Judge Advocate at Vance. It seems like only yesterday I was trying to come up with the first one.

Over the last two years, I have written commentary about leading by example, true leadership and finally about working smarter. In this last commentary, I want to share the JAG Corps guiding principles: Consilium, Virtus, and Justicia - Wisdom, Valor and Justice.

We are all familiar with our Air Force core values: Integrity First, Service Before Self, and Excellence in All We Do. We use these values as cornerstones for a distinguished and honorable career.

Much has been written about these three values, but where do we go from there? How do we implement these values? I suggest using the JAG Corps guiding principles to help you take the next step. Although these principles are formally applied by the JAG Corps, they are also principles each of us apply on a daily basis, whether realizing it or not.

Wisdom - Wisdom is the key to all we do. Whether you are working as a judge advocate or leading a flying squadron, we are all required to logically analyze facts, identify issues and communicate the right information at the right time to accomplish the mission.

All of our jobs require this analytical process. When you receive training in your area of expertise, mix it with your experience and then apply it with common sense - you have just used the principle of wisdom. Without wisdom, there cannot be Excellence in All We Do.

Valor - In a time of war, physical courage rightfully comes to mind when we think of individual valor. But valor is much more than that. Valor is strength of character and the ability to overcome fear. It is also courage of one's conviction and perseverance in the face of obstacles and, during wartime, in the face of danger.

In the JAG Corps, we view valor as stepping up to decisions and the courses of actions that involve risk, opposition, adversity and difficulty. Valor is when "doing the right thing" does not come easily or naturally. It's also the reporting and handling of misconduct, the delivery of bad news and, if necessary, the respectful disagreement with the boss.

Just like wisdom, valor applies to each Airman as well. In some cases, telling the boss "no" or reporting a criminal act of a coworker is tougher to do and arguably more heroic than securing a facility during a mortar attack. Without Valor, in its most simplistic form, one cannot put Integrity First.

Justice - Justice demands that we uphold what is right and fair, balanced and tempered. It's doing the right thing and getting the right result for the right reason. For most, the first thing people think of when it comes to justice, especially from a JAG, is discipline.

As George Washington said, "Discipline is the soul of the Army." But it is more than discipline. It's the fair treatment of those we work with daily. Justice includes upholding the rule of law, promoting constitutional ideals such as due process and equal protection and respecting the dignity of all people.

This is not just a JAG responsibility. Each of us has the duty to ensure justice prevails. Justice, be it through the disciplinary process or our daily interactions with others, begins with each of us, from airman basic to general.

Consilium, Virtus, and Justicia. Think about adding these principles to your daily thought process. It will help you live our Air Force core values.