Compliance begins with basics

  • Published
  • By Chief Master Sgt. Glen Usherwood
  • 81st Training Group command chief
When does a good Airman need a haircut?

Now before you answer, let me say, the answer may seem very obvious, but I will tell you the only correct answer is one word and five letters long. That being said, if you don't know the answer, read on, I'm talking to you. If you think you know, or definitely know, read on, I need your help.

As we draw closer to the Consolidated Unit Inspection, you are going to hear more and more about compliance in all areas. Of course we know about the myriad of job-related checklists, but what about things we don't necessarily have a checklist for like customs and courtesies and appearance standards. These are both easy kills, but for some reason we can experience difficulty with them at times. We shouldn't need to make this about inspection preparation; these are things we should make sure we are in compliance with 24/7.

Just like I tell the new Keesler student arrivals each week, we need to make dress and apperance a point of discussion because people just don't seem to get it -- they keep eating the hemorrhoid cream. The precautions on the tube actually tell the consumer that it is for external use only, and go on to say "DO NOT EAT." The only reason they have to tell you not to eat it is because people keep doing it. Every time you turn around, there's another article in the paper about adhering to standards we all know we should follow. Just like that tube of cream, our very own Air Force Instruction that governs dress and personal appearance of Air Force personnel, AFI 36-2903. The AFI has a very important instruction -- right on the first page at the very top, it reads, "Compliance with this publication is MANDATORY." Note that it doesn't say compliance with portions, or parts that you agree with, or think are important, it says "this publication," meaning all of it.

So what can you do to help? First, look in the mirror, literally and figuratively. If you are one of those folks who know right, but make a conscious decision not to do right...stop it, do the right thing and follow the guidance. The fact is, we should all know the rules that apply, if you don't, spend your next social media break doing something constructive and get in the instruction. Second, if you see something that needs to be corrected, be a team player, and make the correction. If you are the one on the receiving end of someone trying to help you out, lose the attitude, and in the words of Jack Nicholson in A Few Good Men, just say "Thank You" and go on your way, no discussion, excuses, arguments, attitude necessary. The majority of the time the reason people walk by issues is because they don't want the confrontation associated with trying to do the right thing. When helping others out, utilize some tact, sometimes we really are educating and learning is good, we are all on the same team, and although it sounds cliché, we are only as strong as our weakest link...One Team, One Fight.

So back to the original question, when does a good Airman need a haircut, the answer of course is, never, a good Airman never NEEDS a haircut. If we all get on board, and decide to be part of the solution instead of the problem, I can quit telling people not to eat the Preparation-H and we can focus on what's really important, keeping our Air Force the most powerful on the planet and enabling our mission to Fly, Fight and Win.