Right here, right now, are you all in for the mission?

HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah -- I still believe leadership matters. These are tough times we live in for sure, but I'm concerned about what's going on with many of our Airmen today. I've seen Airmen get into trouble with drugs, child pornography, child abuse, assault and battery, DUIs, drunk and disorderly conduct, sexual assault, obstruction of justice, domestic violence, tech order violations and well-below average customs and courtesies. I've seen senior noncommissioned officers who refuse to take their proper leadership role. I've seen field grade officers who allow their Airmen to commit numerous offenses without proper accountability. I try to get my arms around the reasons for the lack of professionalism and discipline -- maybe they're too absorbed in text messaging, video games and social media. Maybe they've checked out for a civilian job or retirement. Who knows? Something is wrong, and that I know.

Please don't get me wrong, most Airmen do get it, so I'm talking only about the minority, because the majority of Airmen are doing amazing things each and every day, much like the chief in the following vignette:

As the chief finished his second cup of coffee after reviewing the last of the morning messages, the commander stepped into his office.

"Chief," the colonel said, "I hate to ask you this, but you need to be in the desert six days from now for a 90-day rotation. Can you go?"

With no emotion in his voice or without even looking up, the chief replied, "I put on my uniform this morning, didn't I?" The wise old protector of the enlisted corps smiled and began to explain. "Sir, I made a promise to myself more than 20 years ago that I would only put this uniform on as long as I'm available and ready to do the duty it requires of me."

These are tough times for our nation. The facts are indisputable: We are more than $14.3 trillion in debt -- that's a "T," not a "B." Not to mention we have more than $60 trillion in unfunded liabilities. We have been at war nonstop for decades. We have near-peer competitors and radical Islamists who threaten our interests at home and abroad and who show no signs of slowing down. We need tough Airmen. What we do not need, and what our nation cannot afford, is soft, undisciplined Airmen.

So what do we do about it? We focus on the mission and do what we've been asked to do. We get ready to take the fight to the enemy with lethal, disciplined air power. We need to become a bona-fide team. We represent less than 1 percent of our population, so we're all in this together. It starts at home and in our communities. Strong family values are essential, especially when looming budget cuts force all of us to work even harder with less. If we do not rise above and maintain the highest of standards, we risk it all. We need to shed the entitlement mentality and realize that we have it good here at Hill Air Force Base. When we start feeling sorry for ourselves, we need to focus on the Airmen who are in harm's way in places like Bari Ali, Afghanistan, where they live for four months, getting shot at 24/7, only eating meals ready to eat, and geting two water bottles per week to bathe with.

Back to leadership. Our nation has seen perilous times before. Recall Bunker Hill, Gettysburg, Pearl Harbor, Sept. 11 -- to name a few. We face another crisis today, and only bold leadership and a strong sense of teamwork will see us through. The Airmen of the 388th Fighter Wing by and large are great Americans and "get it," but we're only as strong as our weakest link. We need to hold each other accountable to the highest of military standards. We need to be better than everyone else.

We need to work harder than everyone else. We need to rise to the occasion and be warriors. We need to have the moral courage to speak out in a tactful, but effective manner when things are not right. We need to work as an integrated team, taking care of the Airmen to the left and right of us. We need to strip away mental weakness and gain mental, physical and spiritual tenacity and clarity. We need to embrace our heritage and unabashedly articulate to our nation why air power is fundamental to its survival. We need to change our mindset before it's too late. We need to encourage bold leaders who can take the reins and secure what so many before us have given their lives for.

So are you in? If you are, join us in our worthwhile and valiant mission to keep this nation free.