Creating an Air Force identity through pride

Lt. Col. Dale Larkin, 3rd Air Support Operations Squadron commander.

Lt. Col. Dale Larkin, 3rd Air Support Operations Squadron commander.

EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska -- Since the Army Air Corps split from the Army over 60-years ago to form the USAF, we have lived with many remnants from the Army, while at the same time trying to establish a unique "AF culture" for our Airmen.

In my opinion, change is good in creating an AF identity. A new PT uniform, a replacement for the BDU, a new service dress uniform, singing the Air Force Song, and an Airman's Creed are all steps in the right direction. Despite the turmoil of these changes, I think our Air Force will be much better off once we embrace them and make them part of who we are.

There are many reasons for each and every one of you to be proud of your service in the world's finest Air Force. Hopefully each of you could quickly rattle off a number of reasons. 

Our AF leadership has made the decision to launch these changes, and it is time for us to accept them and incorporate them into our daily lives. The time for discussion and complaint is past.

Those of us who work closely with the Army appreciate the differences between the services. We each have our own way of doing things, language and traditions. 

One unique thing is that the Army uses the phrase "HOOAH" as a general response to just about anything. The origin is thought to be from the term "Heard-Understood-Acknowledged."

From the same origin, in the Marine Corps you'll hear it sound more like "OORAH", and in the Navy you might hear "HOOYAH". 

The Air Force does not have a similar saying. But, in our effort to embrace more of a warrior culture, we need to make sure we don't blur the lines that separate Airmen from the other services.

We in the 3rd ASOS have to work close with the Army, but I do not want my Airmen to ever be confused with their Army counterparts. That was tough in the past when we deployed wearing the Army ACUs and some of my AF personnel looked and sounded like Soldiers whenever they said "HOOAH" to an Army officer. 

The ABUs are a great step in identifying an Airman from a Soldier. I also helped that process along by not letting my Airmen use that "H-word" anymore, and I encourage all Air Force personnel to do the same. I don't think anyone in the Air Force really wants to be in the Army instead; so why use a term that is so specific to the Army? None of us wants to be mistaken for a Soldier, Sailor, or Marine rather than the professional Airmen we are.

This may be one more change for some careerfields where the "H-word" is a regular occurrence, but in the end we'll instill a better Air Force identity across the entire service. 

Every time I hear it I immediately think there must be Army personnel in the room, as will anyone else who has spent time with our sister services. As for a replacement battle cry, that is an issue that still needs to be solved. Until a decision is made on a service standard saying, try using something uniquely Air Force, like "AIRPOWER" or "ROGER" or "BOMBS AWAY".

So my challenge to each of you is to embrace the uniqueness of the Air Force. Learn the Air Force Song and the Airman's Creed by heart. Wear your uniforms with pride, even if it is not what you would have picked out, and by all means don't say the "H-word". That will cost you a solid round of push ups!