Loyalty: A personal commitment to the organization

EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska -- Loyalty is a pillar of organizational strength. I believe it is vitally important to the military enterprise, and I assert that we find it throughout our military organizations. We should expect to give it and to receive it daily, and we can rely on its powerful effects to bolster our military effectiveness in peacetime and in combat.

You may be asking, "Why write about loyalty? Why discuss it now?" The Iceman Team has had a recent changeover in the wing, in which the top officer and top enlisted leaders are both new to the base. If you believe loyalty is only about one person being loyal to another person, then you might think your loyalty would be shifting right now. However, I want to show you how loyalty is also - in a very important way - about your being loyal to the whole organization and the legacy we have built from the past, up through today, and continuing into the future.

But what is loyalty in our day-to-day events? How does it work for us, and where does it apply to the ordinary things we do? Why is it so important?

Webster's dictionary defines loyalty as, "the quality of being loyal" and defines loyal as "unswerving in allegiance." This is further explained as "faithful in allegiance to one's government" and "faithful to a cause, ideal, custom, institution." That list reminds me of the themes that run throughout our Air Force Core Values. Truly, I believe loyalty has a place in how we live out all of the Core Values.

It is important to recognize this: when we show loyalty through our attitudes, decisions and behaviors, we elevate ourselves and reinforce the highest qualities in our moral character; we demonstrate that we deserve the trust which is given to us in supporting and defending the Constitution. In addition, we uphold our commitment to the oaths we took when we entered our great Air Force, and we serve as role models to those around us, raising the ethical quality of the entire unit.

To begin, loyalty is an essential part of "Integrity First." When we act with integrity, we show loyalty to the organization by exemplifying attention to the rules, regulations and instructions which govern our daily business. We also accept responsibility for our own decisions and act courageously to "Do what's right, even when no one is looking." In this way, we show a sense of loyalty to our own reputation, both as an individual member and as a military unit. Our reputation gains the trust of our citizens to defend our nation.

Loyalty is also a facet of "Service Before Self." Our loyalty to the goals and mission of the unit drive us to make self-sacrifices when required to achieve the mission. Our loyalty makes us a force multiplier when needed. Sometimes it demands heroics to the point of "giving the fullest measure of devotion" ... giving our life in defense of our country. But we must also balance that drive against loyalty to our families and loved ones. We must also give time and attention to our physical, spiritual and emotional health. In any given moment, we must assess what our spirit of loyalty calls us to do. The Core Values ask us to make that choice for a higher cause, and not merely for our own luxury or relaxation.

Finally, loyalty creates "Excellence in All We Do" as a result of the first two Core Values. When we make daily choices to be honest, sincere and morally upright -- when we take care to keep ourselves healthy, educated, trained, and ready -- and when we put the needs of the mission above our own, while keeping a healthy balance between work, family faith, and friends, then excellence "just happens." All of the things listed above deserve your loyalty, and you should devote time to all of them. The satisfaction you get from "a good job done well" will energize you. The self-esteem that you gain from your own loyalty and the reward you feel when others show loyalty to you will make the sense of fatigue fade away.

Feel motivated. Stay active. Be loyal. Thank you for your service to our team! You have my loyalty.