GOODFELLOW AIR FORCE BASE, Texas --
“The time is always right to do what is right.” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Growing up in small town Arkansas, the response to the many challenges of troubled youths was often “you need to join the military to get some discipline.” While the military does give us the training and regimen to act in accordance with rules and norms, I would offer it is the practice of holding members accountable for their actions that drives our success and promotes discipline. We hold our leaders, peers and subordinates accountable for their actions for mission or task accomplishment and personal behavior.
As a young Airman 1st Class many years ago, I learned a valuable lesson about accountability in the military. I was an aircraft fuels system mechanic at the time and had the honor to work with some of the best civilian maintainers in our shop. We went out on a job to repair a component but forgot to accomplish a step which caused a significant fuel leak. Everyone that went out on the job was held accountable for the mistake to include three of our most experienced civilians that had well over twenty years of individual experience each and myself, with less than two. We were all decertified on the task and had to re-accomplish training.
The lesson from that incident wasn’t learned from the decertification on the task. The lesson was that even our top performers are held responsible for their actions. Our leaders on that shift owned up to the mistake took responsibility for the team’s failure. We held each other accountable and were better for it as we were all empowered to speak up and do what’s right.
Lt. Gen. VeraLinn Jamieson, deputy chief of staff for Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, recently visited Goodfellow and stated that we were not only training cryptologic professionals but that we are building our future leaders. Accountability equates to leadership. That resonates with a quote from former NBA coach and analyst Doug Collins, where he stated “When your teammate looks you in the eye and holds you accountable, that’s the greatest kind of leadership there is.”
Military success depends on holding all members accountable for their actions. Our Profession of Arms depends on each member of the team to do their job to ensure mission success and we maintain the moral high ground in the world because we hold our members to a higher standard. The legendary Tennessee Women’s Basketball Coach Pat Summitt said, “Responsibility equals accountability equals ownership. And a sense of ownership is the most powerful weapon a team or organization can have.”
We have a responsibility to our nation and our joint team’s success depends on holding teammates accountable for actions and behaviors. We own this. The time is always right to do what is right!