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Most important discipline...'Self'

  • Published
  • By Chief Master Sgt. Larence Kirby
  • 451st Expeditionary MIssion Support Group superintendent
As I opened the door and proceeded down the hall, I looked forward to a "change of pace" meeting. This would be my first time attending the garrison command sergeant major meeting and I was curious about our sister service's concerns. After settling in, I was surprised to hear about soldiers losing control of their weapons, not removing their covers in the dining facility, and failing to respect authority. It sounded similar to the issues expressed by Air Force leaders concerning our Airmen. I thought, "what gives, these are the United States Armed Forces, isn't discipline a part of our core?"

Since I don't want this to become a "bitter" senior leader article I will stop highlighting negative discipline issues. Instead I will share my belief that all military members should display discipline in their personal and professional lives. Discipline is the foundation for mission accomplishment and the bedrock of service before self. I imagine during your youth, your parents or guardian established a set of expectations. They expected you to brush your teeth after you awoke, they expected you to perform well in school, and they expected you to mind your manners. These items were not difficult and they have one thing in common, discipline. I want to believe, especially teeth brushing, that you are still adhering to those expectations which is a form of discipline.

After you made a decision to join our Armed Forces you were provided another set of expectations. You were taught to respect those in authority, you were directed to pay respect to our colors, and you were asked to properly wear the uniform that represents your branch of service. Once again these are not difficult expectations and they are etched together by the very thread of discipline.

So if you are unable to remember to control your weapon, how can I count on you to protect me during an insurgent attack? If you cannot remember to remove your cover inside a building, how can I count on you to remember first aid procedures if I'm injured during an IDF attack? If you fail to listen to authority now, how will I know you will listen when that same figure is leading us to victory in Afghanistan? The lack of discipline over little things ultimately leads to a lack of discipline over larger things with far reaching implications.

As a senior leader the expectation is for me to go around and ensure discipline. For me to go around and correct violations. While I understand this thought I believe it is more important for people to ensure their own discipline. Whether adhering to lessons from your parents or lessons from your basic military training instructor the most important piece to discipline is self. If we place more "self" into discipline I would go around with pride as we display discipline in saluting our colors, discipline in monitoring our appearance, and discipline in being courteous to one another.

You should take pride in discipline because it is a direct reflection on your upbringing and your training. And most of all, your discipline presents a positive representation of our Armed Forces to those who have served, those who observe, and those who are serving, one hero at a time.