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Discipline: An unwavering trait

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- We are taught about discipline from our early childhood. I was recently reading my daughter the fairy tale of the Little Red Hen and realized that, while entertaining, it actually teaches about discipline; specifically self-discipline. 

The Little Red Hen and her baby chicks are the only ones with the discipline to plant, harvest, and mill the wheat for bread, while the dog, the cat and the duck sit by and watch. In the end, the Little Red Hen and her baby chicks had plenty of food to eat because of their discipline. But the other animals did not have any food because of their laziness and lack of discipline. 

Discipline is the cornerstone of military success. Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen. Norton A. Schwartz recently expressed that, "Our disciplined combat focus has served the nation exceptionally well throughout our 60 years as an independent service." It is a fact that our disciplined focus has lead to the success of the U.S. Air Force. Loss of focus can lead to failure; an undisciplined military force is a losing military force. In order to maintain our success, every Airman must execute his or her mission in a disciplined and accountable manner. 

We must discipline ourselves as we carry out our primary duties; execute our unit budget; conserve our natural resources and assets; follow through with our checklists and technical orders; pay proper respect to our nation and superiors; and taking care of our Airmen. As Gen. George S. Patton once said, "If you can't get them to salute when they should salute and wear the clothes you tell them to wear, how are you going to get them to die for their country?" Discipline starts with the small, trivial matters and leads to important, mission critical steps. But discipline does not stop with your duty at work. It extends beyond to your personal and family life. 

We must all discipline ourselves to maintain a healthy lifestyle, exercise regularly, eat a healthy diet, and take care of our families. Once again I will quote General Patton, "You cannot be disciplined in great things and indisciplined in small things. Brave undisciplined men have no chance against the discipline and valor of other men." 

Therefore, to aid us in maintaining our disciplined combat focus, all Airmen should remember our Air Force core values:

Integrity First - be responsible, be accountable, and have self-respect. 

Service Before Self - adhere to sandards and rules, respect others, and serve as wingmen. 

Excellence in All We Do - continue improvement, reinforce standards, and focus on mission success. 

We can never lose our combat focus -- it defines us as well as guides us. We are entrusted with the protection of our nation and it requires no less than our complete dedication to our mission. 

It's funny that we can all learn a similar lesson from the such dissimilar sources as the nursery story and great World War II hero -- discipline is an unwavering trait and essential for us to not only bring home the bread, but also maintain our combat focus.