Chief's View: Don't just meet, but exceed, standards

Chief Master Sgt. Dwight Badgett, command chief master sergeant, Air Force Reserve Command

Chief Master Sgt. Dwight Badgett, command chief master sergeant, Air Force Reserve Command

Citizen Airman/Oct 2009 -- Our Air Force leadership is constantly looking for ways to ensure we comply with certain standards in security, safety, performance, fitness, uniform wear, etc. Standards by themselves only give us minimum guidelines to strive for, but compliance with these benchmarks can determine mission accomplishment or, in some cases, can mean the difference between life and death.

Over the past few months, we have heard a lot about standards. Recent news reports have highlighted the instances where we have not met our own standards, but these are exceptions and not the rule. One of the main reasons we are the best Air Force in the world is we don't just settle for meeting standards, we exceed them every day.

You maintain an aging fleet of aircraft with amazing mission-capable rates, ensure our Airmen are trained and equipped to deploy, keep older facilities and infrastructure functioning well past their expected lifespan, provide exceptional care for patients, secure our bases, protect our lives, and accomplish much more at exceptional levels. America's Airmen set the standard for our coalition partners and brothers and sisters in arms to follow, but we can do better.

Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force Jim Roy recently told senior enlisted leaders that we talk a lot about getting back to basics but really shouldn't approach our challenges with this attitude. His comments reflect our expectations that, and I quote, "We should never go back to the basics." That implies we are failing on some level, and I know we are not. We should be executing "the basics," which is essential to a winning team."

As I travel to Air Force Reserve Command units, I am excited about the great things you are doing, but I am not surprised. You make "excellence in all we do" a way of life and not just a goal. We know we must follow technical orders, Air Force and Department of Defense instructions, and the orders of those appointed over us. You do just that the vast majority of the time. But, one incident of failure to comply can cost a life or a valuable piece of equipment. In these cases, just one is too many. We must shoot for perfection in every task.

Throughout the history of the Air Force, we have always strived for excellence and continuous process improvement. Current Air Force Smart Operations for the 21st Century and Lean initiatives are just the latest efforts to ensure we are working smarter with the limited resources we have been allocated. You have learned some great lessons on how we can constantly work to improve processes that lead to projecting air power around the world while maintaining the highest levels of professionalism and competence.

Our next task is to share these lessons with other Airmen to guarantee we are all performing efficiently and effectively. Our goal should be that all 68,000-plus proud members of this command are in total compliance and that we make every effort to perform well above the bar.

One of the hardest parts of being a good leader is correcting those who don't meet minimum standards. But that is what leaders are expected to do. We must train to the same standards as our regular Air Force partners, and we should never settle for being "just good enough."

The air reserve component has become a full partner in defending this great nation, and we are held to a higher standard. Don't ever settle for meeting standards most of the time. That is not good enough, and you, as our country's best, are better than that.
Standards are a part of our lives from the first day of basic training when we learn to wear the uniform correctly until the day we take off the uniform to start another phase in our lives. The American people rightfully demand that we exceed standards every day, and everyone who wears Air Force blue owes it to those who support us to expect that of ourselves. Thank you for being a critical part of the Air Force team.