If you were accused of being an Airman, could you be convicted?

  • Published
  • By Col. Tim Gibson
  • 71st Mission Support Group commander
If you were accused of being an Airman, would there be enough evidence to convict you?

Since we just celebrated the Air Force's 63rd birthday, now is a good time to reflect on the message our actions send and how those actions are judged. Our behavior reveals more about our core beliefs than we sometimes realize.

Is there enough evidence to convict you of being an Airman? Sure, you cut your hair and wear the Air Force uniform, so you are recognizable as an Airman. While it is a good starting point, it is not enough.

First, those things are on the surface. Being an Airman must go deeper. Second, the requirement for haircuts and uniforms would exclude our government civilians, and they too are Airmen.

With apologies to the staff judge advocate, in layman's terms, to be convicted in a criminal case, the accused's actions must link them to the charge "beyond a reasonable doubt." That means no other logical explanation is possible based on the facts at hand.

This is a pretty high burden of proof. Much higher than a "preponderance of the evidence," which only requires the slimmest of margins in favor of one side or the other. When it comes to being an Airman, 51 percent isn't good enough. Our actions must convict us as Airmen beyond a reasonable doubt.

So what proof is needed for you to be convicted of being an Airman? Two good starting points are the Airman's Creed and the Air Force Core Values. Together, they capture what it means to be an American Airman. The challenge lies in living them out.

The Airman's Creed is a simple, four paragraph statement that frames what it means to be an Airman. The first paragraph is a statement of our ethos, the distinguishing character of our institution. We are warfighters in service to our nation.

The second paragraph places that ethos into an Air context, capturing both our mission today and highlighting the great legacy we inherited. The third paragraph covers our roles as Airmen. The final paragraph is a declaration of our unyielding commitment.

The Air Force Core Values are an indispensable benchmark for our behavior. Values are shared, enduring beliefs about what is good and what is not. Integrity, Service and Excellence are broad guidelines for all situations. They should influence our behavior -- the very behavior that is on trial each day.

So how about it? If someone were watching you, would your actions measure up? Do you hone your craft to a fine edge, whether as a pilot, a health professional or a mission supporter? Do you know our heritage as Airmen? Are you committed to what our nation is asking of you today, regardless of whether anyone around is watching or following suit?

Are your actions characterized by excellence, or do you find yourself allowing things to slide, accepting less than your best from yourself and others? Are you driven by the welfare of others or do you focus attention on yourself?

Does integrity really influence your behavior? I'm not talking about being honest here. I'm using integrity the way it's defined in the Air Force's "Little Blue Book." Air Force integrity includes courage, responsibility, accountability, justice, openness, self-respect and humility.

Every week, we see great examples of people who could clearly be convicted of being Airmen. We call them Warriors of the Week. Vance Warriors of the Week have been selected from every group on base. They've been chosen from the ranks of our active duty, reservists, officers, enlisted and civilians.

So what's the rhyme or reason behind their selections? Their behavior has been consistent with the ideals that make the Air Force the remarkable organization it is. In short, they have all been convicted of being Airmen.

So what about the rest of us? Have you ever been accused of being an Airman? Was there evidence to support the charge? Now is the perfect time to move forward in building your case. Start stacking up the evidence for your "conviction."

Being convicted of being an American Airman is high praise indeed.