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March Chief's Perspective

Portrait of U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Isaac Carr, assigned to the 169th Mission Support Group at McEntire Joint National Guard Base, S.C., February 7, 2020.

Portrait of U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Isaac Carr, assigned to the 169th Mission Support Group at McEntire Joint National Guard Base, S.C., February 7, 2020. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Master Sgt. Edward Snyder, 169th Fighter Wing Public Affairs)

MCENTIRE JOINT NATIONAL GUARD BASE, S.C. --

As we enter the March RSD, I want to challenge everyone to take a look at their individual readiness and make sure you are taking care of everything within your control of being a mission-ready, 21st Century Airman prepared to deliver agile combat airpower worldwide. In order to accomplish our mission, everyone must take personal responsibility for the things they can control when it comes to their individual readiness. When you look in the mirror in the morning, do you see an Airman that takes personal responsibility for their actions? Or is your first reaction when things don't go quite right to blame someone else?

Essentially, responsibility is the ability to respond to situations and events. In its natural context, taking responsibility is a personal, mature and conscious choice. Taking responsibility is taking ownership. Accountability on the other hand, is the recognition and acknowledgement of our responsibilities. Taking accountability happens when the obligation to account for our actions outweighs our resistance to. It brings another element into the formula so that we’re no longer simply answering to ourselves but being held accountable by something or someone outside of ourselves. 

So, where does accountability start? It starts with you and I. Personal accountability is being part of the solution instead of being part of the problem. Personal accountability means holding yourself accountable for the decisions you make. Accountability is taking responsibility for your actions and holding yourself to a higher standard. It is about doing the right thing, not just when someone is watching but more importantly, when no one is watching. Being accountable is also asking, "How can I improve my situation?" "How can I contribute?" or "How can I help solve the problem?" instead of sitting around contributing to the problem.

Airmen are our most important assets. As Airmen, our personal responsibility is maintaining the readiness to fight -- anywhere, anytime -- and upholding our personal commitment to our fellow Airmen that we will not let them down. We are confronted every day with choices, both on and off duty, that can and do impact both the mission and perception by others of our Air Force. With that in mind, individuals at every level must relentlessly strive to develop and maintain an environment and culture defined by integrity and accountability, or in other words a "culture of personal responsibility."

As Airmen, we depend on one another to perform to the best of our abilities, and to be personally prepared for every challenge we might face. Anything less could cost valuable American lives as we work to provide our warfighters with the best aerospace power equipment in the world. We also provide warfighters with a very valuable and precious asset -- Expeditionary mission-ready, 21st Century Airmen with great attitudes and skills ready to perform at a moment's notice around the globe.

So, who is to blame for individuals not being ready? Is it their supervisor, who didn't give them enough time to focus on these requirements? Is it their unit deployment manager, who hasn't sufficiently explained every deployment requirement to them and scheduled every class? Is it their commander? While these people play important roles in their unit members' development, the answer to these questions is clearly "No."

Ultimately, all Airmen are responsible for their actions. Every Airman has a personal responsibility to be fully trained to meet any challenge, and be the very best member of our Air Force team they can be. Anything less is unacceptable. It is important to understand that the obligation incurred when accountable also extends to our most important asset: people. Their general welfare outside of the mission should always be a concern. Our Air Force is comprised of some of the best and brightest talent out there and we as wingmen and leaders should do our best to cultivate a culture of individual personal responsibility and accountability. Accountability, responsibility and duty are three simple words with huge mission impacts. Who's accountable? You are!