Integrity first

Kandahar, Afghanistan -- INTEGRITY FIRST:  The military profession has many codes, regulations, mottoes, and traditions that combine to form a military ethic on which integrity is based. When military professionals say they value integrity first, service before self, and excellence in all they do, they acknowledge that the essential nature of the military profession is to serve the parent society. They make specific their commitment to the concept that good Airmen are good persons. What we should mean when we commit ourselves to "integrity first" is that we understand the importance of how we best provide the crucial military function to our society. The American people have placed their trust in the professional judgment of military members. Society grants the military a great deal of autonomy because of its members' high ethical behavior and trust.

Integrity is a much used term but not always understood. The word "integrity" in a moral context refers to the whole moral character of a person and most frequently alludes to one's personal integrity. The statement, "don't compromise your integrity," usually means, "Act in accordance with your moral principles within your value system. Be consistent." There is a real sense in which integrity encompasses personal identity. Persons of integrity do not stray from acting according to strong moral principle even when it is personally advantageous to do so. Persons of integrity act like the ideal persons they are trying to be.

The Air Force core value of integrity directly relates to discipline. Today's Airmen are educated and disciplined to follow rules and guidelines set by leadership. Strict adherence to these guides and our customs and courtesies is what distinguishes us from others. It is this discipline that compels our society to entrust the defense of the nation to the military forces.

Everyday should be a personal challenge to go forth to be the ideal Airman. Do all the right things, especially when no one is watching.