WHY THESE CORE VALUES?
There are four reasons why we recognize the Core Values and have developed a strategy to implement them.
The first reason is that the Core Values tell us the price of admission to the Air Force itself. Air Force personnelwhether officer, enlisted, civil servant, or contractor must display honesty, courage, responsibility, open ness, self-respect, and humility in the face of the mission. All of us must accept accountability and practice justice, which means that all Air Force personnel must possess Integrity first. At the same time, a person's "self" must take a back seat to Air Force service: rules must be acknowledged and followed faithfully; other personnel must be respected as persons of fundamental worth; discipline and self-control must be in effect always; and there must be faith in the system. In other words, the price of admission to the Air Force demands that each of us places Service before self. And it is imperative that we all seek Excellence in all we dowhether it be product/service excellence, resources excellence, community excellence, or operations excellence.
The second reason for recognizing the Core Values is that they point to what is universal and unchanging in the profession of arms. Some persons are bothered by the fact that different branches of the service recognize different values; other persons are bothered by the fact that the Air Force once recognized six values and has now reduced them to three. But these persons need not worry. It is impossible for three or six or nine Core Values to capture the richness that is at the heart of the profession of arms. The values are road signs inviting us to consider key features of the requirements of professional service, but they cannot hope to point to or pick out everything. By examining integrity, service, and excellence, we also eventually discover the importance of duty, honor, country, dedication, fidelity, competence, and a host of other professional requirements and attributes. The important thing is not the three road signs our leaders choose. The important thing is that they have selected road signs, and it is our obligation to understand the ethical demands these road signs pick out.
The third reason for recognizing the Core Values is that they help us get a fix on the ethical climate of the or ganization. How successful are we in trying to live by the Core Values? Our answer to this question may not be the one we'd like to give. All of us have heard about the sensational scandals--senior officers and NCOs engaged in adulterous fraternization; the tragic and senseless crashes of the Ramstein CT-43 and the Fairchild B-52; contractor fraud and cost overruns; and the shootdown of the two Blackhawk helicopters over Iraq. We all have read about these incidents and experienced the shame associated with them. But these big ticket scandals don't just happen in a vacuum, and they aren't always caused by evil people acting on impulse. The people involved knew the difference between right and wrong, and they knew what professionalism demands in these situations.
These big ticket scandals grew out of a climate of ethical corrosion. Because we believe our operating procedures or the requirements levied upon us from above are absurd, we tend to 'cut corners', 'skate by', and 'get over'. As time goes by, these actions become easier and they become habitual until one morning we wake up and can no longer distinguish between the `important' taskings or rules and the 'stupid' ones. Lying on official forms becomes second nature. Placing personal interests ahead of the mission seems sensible. And we develop a 'good enough for government work' mentality.
In such a climate of corrosion the Core Values are like a slap in the face. How far have you strayed from integrity, service, and excellence? What about the folks with whom you work?
Fortunately, there is a fourth reason for recognizing the Core Values: just as they help us to evaluate the climate of our organization, they also serve as beacons vectoring us back to the path of professional conduct; the Core Values allow us to transform a climate of corrosion into a climate of ethical commitment. That is why we have developed the Core Values Strategy.