It is everyone’s responsibility to enforce standards

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. John Lutes
  • 71st Medical Group first sergeant
Gen. George S. Patton Jr., once said, "If you can't get them to salute when they should salute -- and wear the clothes you tell them to wear -- how are you going to get them to die for their country?" 

What he was talking about are the standards that guide us in accomplishing our day-to-day mission. These standards include professional relationships, conduct on and off duty, military etiquette and dress and appearance to name just a few. 

The governing instruction for dress and appearance is Air Force Instruction 36-2903 "Dress and Personal Appearance of Air Force Personnel," and contains the minimum standards we must meet. At all times especially when in uniform, Air Force members are expected to maintain the standards of neatness, cleanliness, safety and military image. 

Uniforms are required to be in a serviceable condition and not torn, frayed or faded. When your battle dress uniforms start resembling desert camouflage uniforms, it is replacement time. 

The BDU should also be pressed and wrinkle free. Boots will be either the new green boots or black boots. If you wear black boots they will be clean and may have a high gloss. In other words, shine them. 

The Airman battle uniform will follow these same guidelines except they will not be pressed and you will either wear the green or brown boots. 

Personal grooming falls under cleanliness and includes haircuts, hairstyles, fingernail polish and how much and what kind of jewelry you are allowed to wear. 

You may have heard the question, "When does a good Airman need a haircut?" The answer to that question is, "never". Good Airmen get their hair cut before they need to or before they are out of standards. 

For women this means their hair will not go past the bottom edge of their collar or exceed 3 inches in bulk. Additionally, hairpins and bands must match their hair color. 

For men, hair will not exceed 1 1/4 inches in bulk and will have a tapered appearance on both sides and the back. Their sideburns will not go below the lowest part of the exterior ear opening. 

Eyeglasses and sunglasses must be conservative and can be black, brown, gold or silver. They may have a small logo on the frames or lens but must be the same color as the frame. Faddish styles and mirrored lenses are prohibited and you cannot wear them around your neck, on top of or on the back of the head or hanging from the uniform. 

Brief cases, gym bags and backpacks must be carried in the left hand, on the left shoulder or both shoulders. Only solid black backpacks may be worn with the blue uniform. Solid black, olive drab or woodland camouflage is authorized with the BDU. Solid black or ABU camouflage are authorized with the ABU. 

It is the responsibility of every Airman to maintain and enforce standards. As a first sergeant, I specifically hold the NCO corps responsible for maintaining standards as well as enforcing good order and discipline. 

General Patton also said, "It is absurd to believe that soldiers who cannot be made to wear the proper uniform can be induced to move forward in battle." 

Anyone who wears the uniform and fails to perform their duty by correcting small violations or enforcing proper conduct are incapable of leading. It is not just the first sergeant's or the commander's responsibility to enforce standards -- it is everyone's responsibility.