Core Values – A Reminder

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Pete Warner
  • 18th Mission Support Squadron commander
The United States Air Force adopted the core values of Integrity First, Service Before Self and Excellence In All We Do January 1, 1997 - barely 10 short years ago. 

At that time, Secretary of the Air Force Sheila Widnall wrote: "Core values make the military what it is; without them, we cannot succeed. They are the values that instill confidence, earn lasting respect, and create willing followers. They are the values that anchor resolve in the most difficult situations. They are the values that buttress mental and physical courage when we enter combat. In essence, they are the three pillars of professionalism that provide the foundation for military leadership at every level." 

One of our early pioneers and foremost strategic leaders, Gen. Curtis E. LeMay said:
"I hope that the United States of America has not yet passed the peak of honor and beauty, and that our people can still sustain certain simple philosophies at which some miserable souls feel it incumbent to sneer. I refer to some of the Psalms, and to the Gettysburg Address, and the Scout oath. I refer to the Lord's prayer, and to that other oath which a man must take when he stands with hand uplifted, and swears that he will defend his country. 

"None of those words described, or the beliefs behind them, can be sung to modern music. But they are there, like rocks and oaks, structurally sound and proven. They are more than rocks and oaks; they are the wing and the prayer of the future. "Whether we venture into realms of space in our latest vehicles, or whether we are concerned principally with overhauling our engines and loading our ordnance here on the ground, we will still be part of a vast proud mechanism which must function cleanly if it is to function at all." 

These two former leaders of our Air Force during two vastly different periods in our history should remind you that no matter how much change we go through - and we are going through some mighty big changes today (think transformation, Global War on Terror, Air Force Smart Operations 21, Program Budget Decision 720, new evals, new uniforms, new planes, etc.), our Air Force is built on a solid foundation of core values that allow us to get the job done - no one even comes close.