32nd FTS commander defines commitment, loyalty in military

  • Published
  • By Lt Col Roger Johnson
  • 32nd Flying Training Squadron
Commitment and loyalty, these are two words that always come up around promotion recommendation, or PRF, season.
Currently we're working on the major to lieutenant colonel products, but the discussion of commitment and loyalty, I would argue, applies to all promotions, ranks and day-to-day activities.
With the PRF season in full swing and since I was "asked" to provide an editorial for the paper, I've done a little reflecting on what commitment and loyalty really mean to me and how we measure one's commitment and loyalty. Does rank or time in grade determine how much commitment and loyalty we have to the Air Force, or how about Professional Military Education, or even after-duty event participation?
But before I could attempt to answer these questions I wanted to get an expert's definition of commitment and loyalty, or C and L. Webster defines commitment as "the state of being bound emotionally or intellectually to an ideal or course of action." Webster goes on to define loyalty as "feelings of devoted attachment and affection." The question I have now is how does an individual display these traits to a measurable level?
After some thought, I found that quantifying C and L can be very dependent on the environment one finds him or herself in. For instance, young troops of any U.S. military service over in Afghanistan, Pakistan or Iraq may be displaying more C and L than any top military leader is or has in more than 20 years of service. These young Americans are seeing their friends and comrades die on a daily basis, yet they continue to pick up arms and proceed to be "bound to an ideal and course of action" as bullets, bombs and rockets threaten their life. These great warriors are truly committed and loyal to the noblest cause of defending our nation and way of life. But as I sit in Enid, Okla., the ability to identify C and L becomes a little more blurry.
My belief is that C and L is not dependent on rank, time in grade, PME completed or after-duty participation. C and L is what you do and how you do it 24/7. If you are the newest Airman standing guard in front of Vance Air Force Base at 2 a.m. on a weekday and performing as you've been told and trained, I salute you for your distinguished commitment and loyalty to the safety of this base and its mission. If you're the student pilot in the dorms over the weekend studying and preparing for the upcoming week's sorties and tests, I salute you for your commitment and loyalty to becoming the best aviator you can be in the world's best military.
It boils down to giving 100 percent, 100 percent of the time and many times at the expense of your own desires. Giving 100 percent also includes down time (weekends, leave, after duty, etc...) to recharge the batteries in order to continue the pursuit of excellence in all we do. How do I give 100 percent on my leisure time? By getting proper exercise, diet, adequate rest, family time and by playing hard, yet safe and taking care of my "buds" by following Operational Risk Management.
Not everyone will reach the top enlisted rank or officer rank, but we are all still a vital part of our nation's military and can be as committed and loyal as anyone else. To an Airman who serves three days or 30 years in any rank and can go home at night and be proud of what he or she did that day ... I salute the person for his or her commitment and loyalty!
In closing, I believe promotion boards do not and cannot measure commitment or loyalty. Discriminators such as PME do prepare and provide people with skills and knowledge to succeed in higher ranks and as such are used by boards to help determine if Airmen will be promoted or not.
However, if a person chooses not to participate in the discriminator arenas, and accepts the likely promotion outcome with continued commitment and loyalty ... I thank him or her for serving and salute the person for his or her commitment and loyalty.