Internalize, operationalize our core values

col. kehl

Col. Brian Kehl, 50th Mission Support Group commander. (Courtesy photo)


Every day, Team Schriever defends the homeland, owns the high ground, and projects U.S. and allied power.  The Air Force exists to deter, and when necessary, fight our nation’s wars.  The tools of our trade are lethal, involve risk to human life, and cost great sums.  With great power comes great responsibility and the necessity for very high standards; which is why the Air Force requires each of us, active duty, civil servant, reserve member and contractors to exemplify three core values:  Integrity First, Service Before Self, and Excellence in All We Do.


The Air Force Core Values are more than minimum standards, they are beacons of professional conduct that remind us how we are to accomplish our mission and how we are to protect our way of life.  The core values are a bond among comrades in arms, the glue that connects us to the great American warriors of the past.  They form the foundation of how Arimen are expected to conduct themselves.


Integrity is associated with courage, honesty, responsibility, accountability, self-respect, humility and justice.  Conviction drives integrity; it is our moral compass and forms the basis of trust which is imperative in today’s military.  It is a character trait that drives us to do what is right, even when no one is looking.  It’s why we are asked and expected to do the right thing regardless of the situation.  I encourage you to think about circumstances where you might find yourself and to decide ahead of time what you will do.  I have found it’s significantly easier to make the right choice if you have previously thought through a decision and the associated consequences. 


Service before self consists of following the rules, showing respect for others and exercising discipline and self-control.  This core value helps us realize profession of arms duties often take precedence over personal desires.  It has its origins with the founding fathers who put the formation of the country ahead of their lives and their personal fortunes.  It’s an innate realization that the sum of the parts are greater than the individual pieces.  It’s why we sometimes are asked to work long hours, take care of a challenging wingman, deploy to foreign lands and possibly make the ultimate sacrifice.


Excellence in all we do applies to mission and support operations, staff products, resource management, interactions with others, and how we conduct our personal lives.  It directs us to develop a passion for continuous improvement and innovation regardless of the subject matter.  I saw a sign painted on the wall of a local car maintenance shop in Virginia that read, “Perfection – a frustrating waste of time because it is so elusive.  Excellence – a worthwhile pursuit because it is obtainable and honorable.”  Excellence is not easy to achieve, but unlike perfection, it is obtainable.  We should constantly strive to incorporate excellence in all we do.  I challenge you to work hard every day to become the best crew operator, the best mission support member, the best support contractor, the best reservist, the best wingman, the best family member.  If you struggle writing good staff packages, work hard to improve your writing abilities.  If you struggle to be a good wingman, invest the energy to change.  Excellence in any subject comes from practice and hard work, there are no shortcuts.   


I encourage every Team Schriever member to operationalize the Air Force Core Values.  I challenge you to invest some of your intellectual capital to determine for yourself how to incorporate Air Force Core Values in the missions you support, in your appearance, in your customs and courtesies and in how you interact with coworkers and family.  Discuss your plan with your wingman, supervisors, mentors and family members.  Ask for their support and guidance as you strive to operationalize and internalize the core values.


The profession of arms is a noble calling that demands our best.  We command space assets with phenomenal power that effect every part of the world.  With great power comes great responsibility; the basic Air Force directions for exercising great responsibility are the core values.  They are the price of admission to the greatest Air Force in the history of the world.