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Air Force Core Values: more than just words

PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- October's "Year of Leadership" focus has been "Discipline." For November, the focus shifts to our Core Values, the very principles that are the backbone of discipline.

Former Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Michael Ryan said, "our Core Values, Integrity First, Service Before Self and Excellence In All We Do set the common standard for conduct across the Air Force. 

These values inspire the trust which provides the unbreakable bond that unifies the force. We must practice them ourselves and expect no less from those with whom we serve."

Integrity, service and excellence. Integrity, fortified by a commitment to the service of our country, and fueled by a drive in excellence in all that we do. 

These are values every Airman must believe in, and more importantly, values they must live by. They are absolutely critical to the success of the Air Force mission.

Integrity, simply put, is the willingness to do what is right even when no one is looking. It is the "moral compass" - the inner voice, the voice of self-control; the basis for the trust imperative in today's military.

A person of integrity is honest, responsible, accountable and humble. It is the first core value because it's the bedrock of all our military activities.

Next is our military service, an uncommon profession that calls for people with an enduring commitment and dedication to the mission. 

It requires us to have a keen sense of service before self. Each of us must realize that our professional duties take precedence over our personal desires. 

This is a 24-hour-a-day commitment that includes, at the very least, the following behaviors: rule following, respect for others, discipline and self-control and faith in the system. 

As Airmen, we are entrusted with the security of the nation, the protection of its citizens, and the preservation of its way of life. These responsibilities require us to place the needs of service and country before personal concerns.

Our final core value, "Excellence In All We Do", can be thought of as the tactic that drives how we operate. It is the development of a sustained passion for continuous improvement and innovation that will propel the Air Force into a long-term, upward spiral of accomplishment and performance. 

It encompasses themes of excellence in the areas of service, personal, community, resources and operational endeavors.

Our core values serve to remind us of the importance of our chosen profession, the oath we took, and the demands placed upon us as members of the profession of arms.