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Discipline is NCO Business

  • Published
  • By Command Chief Master Sgt. Dennis Vannorsdall
  • 45th SW command chief
This month, as part of the Air Force Space Command "Year of Leadership", we've been focusing on "Back to Basics and Heritage". Starting in October we'll turn our focus to another core competency of leadership...Discipline. In the Merriam-Webster dictionary, discipline is defined in three ways: Punishment, Instruction, and Self Control. The root word of discipline is disciplina which means "to teach."

In all of these definitions, the NCO and Senior NCO have an important role and responsibility. To assist NCOs with discipline, we have the authority to issue lawful orders appropriate for the completion of their assigned tasks. Failure to obey lawful orders violates Article 92 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

In accordance with Air Force Instruction 36-2618, The Enlisted Force Structure, NCOs primary purpose in the Air Force is to be a skilled technician in their assigned specialty and building and leading teams to accomplish the mission. SNCOs primary purpose in the Air Force is leading and managing teams to accomplish the mission. NCOs and SNCOs fulfill their primary purpose through discipline: Instructing and training Airmen, maintaining self control, and issuing lawful orders to accomplish the mission.

The basic leadership principles of being tough, getting out from behind your desk, not taking things for granted, and being honest with yourself and others, aid leaders with establishing discipline in themselves, and discipline in others. Having the courage to correct those who fail to meet standards takes discipline. But making corrections, and teaching Airmen how to succeed, is a fundamental responsibility of NCO and SNCO leadership. If we fail at the fundamental principal of maintaining discipline, our Airmen and our organization will suffer the consequences.

In the most recent CMSAF Perspective, CMSAF McKinley talks about Airmen serving "Outside the Wire." Working outside the wire in a combat situation takes discipline or Airmen get needlessly killed. It takes discipline to put on the proper personal protective equipment, it takes discipline to conduct pre-combat inspections of your equipment, communications, weapons, and vehicles. It's the NCO and SNCO who make sure these life and death tasks get done. Every Airmen is important and part of the joint team.

Let's not forget the importance discipline plays in our home station mission. Look at our DoD launch manifest for the next 60 days...Delta IV NROL-26, ATLAS V WGS SV2, Delta II GPS IIR 20 M. These spacecraft will have a direct impact on the joint team...increasing war fighting capability for the Navy, Army, Air Force, Marines, and the U.S. Coast Guard. Our Operations Group and Launch Group warriors are essential to insuring these systems get off the pad safely and into the correct orbit. There is no room for error, and a lack of discipline can have national security implications.

I'm proud of all the hard work this wing and our mission partners do each and every day. Maintaining discipline is fundamental to what we do everyday. In October, let's refocus our efforts to make sure we are enforcing standards and teaching our Airmen how to be successful. By doing this we will shape the attitudes and work ethic of the next generation of leaders.