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Back to Basics

BARNES AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Massachusetts -- Time to get "Back to Basics." I have been saying this for awhile now, as have many. What does this mean?

Well, we have been hearing for months, that our mission has changed. For some, not much has changed; they moved to Barnes, they are still flying the same jet, and they are still performing the same duties. Then for some of us, this is a brand new mission. It's a new aircraft, ergo a new way of business. All of us have to remember that. We need to be patient, we need to help each other out, and we need to work together.
But some things haven't changed. The basics haven't changed. The basics are the things we learned when we first put on this uniform; dress and appearance, customs and courtesies, following checklists, & AFIs just to name a few. Over the past few months, I have heard from our Command Chief, as well as other first sergeants and commanders things that we can all do to improve upon these matters, which will enhance the overall appearance and atmosphere on the base. The point I am trying to make is we joined the military knowing that there were basic standards that were to be followed. They might have evolved over the years, but they are still there. So, here are some of the basic things that we have seen that need attention:
  • Hats and BDU Shirts not being worn
  • Sunglasses being worn on top of head
  • Mustaches, sideburns too long
  • Hair length/style - male & female
  • Jewelry / fingernails not w/in standards
  • Smoking while walking
  • Hands in pockets
  • Avoiding salutes
  • Using first names in public situations (especially when there is a significant rank difference)
If you have any questions on these or would like me to explain more, please let me know, I would be happy to review what AFI 36-2903 has to say. Also keep in mind that it is every ones responsibility to correct each other. So if you see something wrong, correct it!

Now, let's talk about what to do when a Colonel or a General Officer enters your work area. All of this information is taken from AFPAM 34-1202 and AFI 34-1201.

Calling a Room to Attention. The first person to see an officer entering the room calls the room to attention. If an officer of equal or higher rank is already in the room, the room is not called to attention. When the officer departs, the room is called to attention again. If bringing the room to attention could cause an adverse safety or mission impact, it should not be done. When a senior officer enters an operations center, for example, it's customary for them to be announced, but operators remain seated at their consoles and politely acknowledge the superior's presence by sitting at attention and making eye contact, if doing so does not affect the performance of their job.

With all of that being said, here is the key point to protocols such as these. 1) They add to the good order and discipline of the military, an age old aspect that has a direct effect on missions if not practiced in our routine activities. 2) They allow us to maintain traditions of mutual respect. 3) These small things add up into our image, and this is something we should value. In a recent Gallup Poll, the military is the most respected carrier field in the country, more importantly; the Air Force was considered the service of choice. Reputations and image are critical to so much of what we do, and each one of us impacts that. So next time you think about the basics, remember that every action (no matter how basic) is important.