Commentary by Master Sgt. Vincent Brass
8th Operations Group first sergeant
6/7/2013 - KUNSAN AIR BASE, South Korea (AFNS) -- In
the military we constantly refer to "the standard." Most standards are
developed within Air Force instructions or technical orders. They are
what sets us apart from our civilian counterparts.
Webster's dictionary defines a standard as "something established by
authority, custom, or general consent as a model, or example." We weigh
our performance reports and sometimes administrative actions off of our
ability to meet the standard.
As a first sergeant, I consistently find myself reminding Air Force
members from all Air Force specialty codes of the standards. Most times I
get a similar response; the member corrects the action and continues
Sometimes I get asked, "Shirt, is it really that big of a deal to have my hands in my pockets?" I ask you, is it?
What or whom will be impacted by the staff sergeant or captain with their hands in their pockets? Honestly, probably no one.
Ultimately, what it comes down to is, which standard is OK to deviate
from? The Air Force uniform standard, Air Force instruction 36-2903, was
developed to provide us with guidance on how to maintain a professional
image at all times.
How we wear our uniform is not only important to how the population of
our great nation views us, but also how we pay respect to the men and
women who have worn it before us and will continue to wear it long after
we are all gone.
In my humble opinion, there should be no standard too small to enforce.
Whether it is in a uniform standard, a security forces instruction, or a
technical order that tells our maintainers the correct torque
specification to prevent catastrophic failure while our pilots are in
flight; all standards are developed to ensure mission success.
One of my mentors in the Air Force, retired Chief Master Sgt. Atticus
Smith, used to put it to me in a manner that has stuck with me ever
"When we begin to pick and choose what standards we will enforce, we
begin to accept mediocrity as the standard," Smith said. "When
mediocrity becomes the standard is when the mission will fail."
I ask you now, why is it a big deal to enforce the standard?