Compliance with standards (still) not optional

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. William C. Cannon
  • 45th Security Forces Squadron commander
In 2003, I wrote an article entitled "Compliance with Standards Not Optional," which highlighted misconduct that led to 27 Article 15 actions in the wing at Vance Air Force Base, Okla. My point was that misconduct was intolerable for military members and counterproductive, and that supervisors must hold subordinates accountable to ensure mission success.

Seven years later, it's necessary to remind ourselves that compliance with standards is still not optional. In fact, there seems to be an increasing emphasis on compliance, as evidenced by the removal of several wing commanders in the past six months for failing to maintain the standards of conduct and leadership expected of them. All were well publicized and certainly put all Airmen on notice that non-compliance with standards will
not be tolerated.

Regrettably, there are still some who are slow to understand or simply do not care about the standards. Status of Discipline briefs reflect 17 Article 15 actions on Patrick AFB during the same six months for incidents which violated established standards. This is extremely troubling, especially considering additional incidents of non-compliance
that didn't rise to the level of non-judicial punishment.

Fortunately, these are not representative of the Airmen who embody our Core Values of
"Integrity First, Service Before Self, and Excellence in All We Do," and work diligently to assure access to the high frontier and support global operations. Most of us realize that
the importance of the Air Force mission and inherent responsibility to the Nation requires us to adhere to higher standards than others; that we are accountable for our own
actions 24/7; and that supervisors must hold subordinates accountable and take corrective action, as appropriate.

We can tolerate mistakes and even learn valuable lessons from them, but we must meet and enforce the standards at all times. Gen. William M. Fraser III, commander of Air Combat Command, said "Our leaders must set and enforce the standards across all of our mission areas. The Nation expects and deserves nothing less." While not always easy or popular, remember that compliance with standards is still not optional - our Nation does, indeed, deserve our very best.