Being a member of the United States Army in the 82 Airborne is a tough job that must be upheld by other servant leaders who chose to answer the call of duty. All that you I have learned in Basic Training, Advanced Individual Training, and Per mint Party serves a roll in your every day duty. No matter if its shooting expert on the M16, learning dill movements in basic, brushing up on your boot shining skills in AIT, or trust in your fellow solders in per mint party. Lots of thing helps make a solder from learning the heritage and traditions, to courtesies, to the army values all the way down to serving as a member of a team. The Army values are the foundation for good soldiering in the United States Army. To pick just one value to discuss or to break is difficult to follow without tapping into any of the other seven. Thus I will follow in suit by discussing all seven of the values which are very significant in my military life.
Here’s the thing. The Army didn’t invent the values. There are many more than seven values that identify desirable human conduct and behavior (and plenty that define undesirable behavior as well), and they’ve been around for a long time. So, that said, it should come as no surprise that the seven Army values are not just for the military – they apply to each and every citizen…this makes perfect sense, as all soldiers are citizens first.
According Joseph Yakel, Chief Warrant Officer 3 in the US Army, we all have positions in life…stations, if you will…and it matters not what your station in life happens to be…some or all of these seven values are tested as a matter of course, each day of one’s life. The values are as applicable to the student as they are to the professor; as important to the patient as they are to the doctor; as challenging to the child as they are to the adult; and as attainable by the penniless as they are by the millionaire. In short, the seven values are for everyone. What are the values, and how are they applicable to everyone?
First is LOYALTY. It is to bear true faith and allegiance to the U.S. Constitution, the Army, your unit, and other soldiers. As a soldier, I should be loyal to my nation and its heritage. For me, loyalty in military service includes commitment and dedication in serving and protecting my country. It also includes my willingness to sacrifice for the common good and welfare of my countrymen. Soldiers fight for each other—loyalty is commitment. Some of you will encounter the most important way of earning this loyalty: leading your soldiers well in combat. There’s no loyalty fiercer than that of soldiers who trust their leader to take them through the dangers of combat. However, loyalty extends to all members of an organization—to your superiors and subordinates, as well as your peers.
Second value is DUTY which means fulfilling our obligations, accepting responsibility for our own actions and those entrusted to our care. It means finding opportunities to improve oneself for the good of the group. Being part of the 82 Airborne, the value of duty is very important to me since it means consistency in both my words and deeds. If my countrymen and fellowmen need my help and service, I should sincerely offer my help to them and if I am in need of help, I should learn to seek help from my peers. Most importantly, it mans accomplishing all my obligations and assigned tasks to the fullest of my ability.
Third is RESPECT. For me, it means treating people as they should be treated. Well, we should rely on the golden rule, “How we consider others reflects upon each of us, both personally and as a professional organization”. Being a leader, respect means showing regard and appreciation for the worth of one’s sacrifice. It means honor and esteem. It includes respect for self, respect for the rights and dignity of all persons. Respect keeps us from hurting what we ought to value. I should always put respect in action. To practice this value in the military service, I should practice the Golden Rule, the random acts of kindness and learn to obey the rules, laws, and customs of your family, faith, community, and country. In addition to this, it means treating others as well or better than I would like to be treated. Respect is also an essential component for the development of disciplined, cohesive, and effective war fighting teams. In the deadly confusion of combat, soldiers often overcome incredible odds to accomplish the mission and protect the lives of their comrades. This spirit of selfless service and duty is built on a soldier’s personal trust and regard for fellow soldiers. A leader’s willingness to tolerate discrimination or harassment on any basis, or a failure to cultivate a climate of respect, eats away at this trust and erodes unit cohesion. But respect goes beyond issues of discrimination and harassment; it includes the broader issue of civility, the way people treat each other and those they come in contact with. It involves being sensitive to diversity and one’s own behaviors that others may find insensitive, offensive, or abusive. Soldiers and DA civilians, like their leaders, treat everyone with dignity and respect.
Fourth is SELFLESS SERVICE. It means putting the welfare of the nation, the Army, and our subordinates before our own. Selfless service leads to organizational teamwork and encompasses discipline, self-control and faith in the system. It means that you must resist the temptation to put self gain, personal advantage, and self interest ahead of the interest of the Nation, the Army, or our Unit. Our rank and position are not personal rewards. We earned them so you can better serve the Nation, the Army, and your Unit. Personally, I believe that when we pursue personal happiness without considering the needs of those around us, we become anxious and frustrated, anchorless and cut off from the parts of us that are in others. No matter how successful we may be in our profession and other material pursuits, contentment evades us. Only a higher love can replace a lower love. Only by replacing a desire for personal gratification with a desire for elevating someone else can the spinning mind regain control, right?
Fifth is HONOR. It simply means living up to all the Army values. According to historian Lewis Mumford “Man’s chief purpose is the creation and preservation of values: that is what gives meaning to our civilization, and the participation in this is what gives significance, ultimately, to the individual human life.” Honor is honesty. It is a value that makes a difference in our national leadership.
Sixth is INTEGRITY. It means doing what is right, legally and morally. It includes our willingness to do what is right even when no one is looking. It is our “moral compass” an inner voice. It also means being honest and upright, avoiding deception, and living the values that you suggest for your subordinates. Integrity is the basis for the trust and confidence that must exist among members of the Army. Moreover, someone once said that integrity matters most when no one is looking. That statement is true, except it fails to point out that God is always looking. I can also remember hundreds of years ago, the wise man made a statement that is still true today, “The integrity of the upright shall guide them, but the perverseness of the treacherous shall destroy them” (Proverbs 11:3). In short, integrity matters.
Lastly is the value of PERSONAL COURAGE. It means our ability to face fear, danger, or adversity, both physical and moral courage. The importance of personal courage in the military service entails both on and off the battlefield. It takes courage to withstand the rigors of war. It takes courage to assume responsibility for life and death decisions. It often takes courage to “do the right thing”. For me, personal courage is the strength to attempt tasks that are hard for me to do.
Loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity, and personal courage are leadership traits that Army should learn and understand then practice in their deeds. Army values remind us and tell the rest of the world—the civilian government we serve, the nation we protect, even our enemies—who we are and what we stand for. The trust soldiers and DA civilians have for each other and the trust the American people have in us depends on how well we live up to Army values. They are the fundamental building blocks that enable us to discern right from wrong in any situation. Army values are consistent; they support one another. You can’t follow one value and ignore another. Army leaders take the initiative, figuring out what needs to be done before being told what to do. What’s more, they take full responsibility for their actions and those of their subordinates. Army leaders never shade the truth to make the unit look good—or even to make their subordinates feel good. Instead, they follow their higher duty to the Army and the nation.
As a soldier of the 82 Airborne, I am always on display. If I want to instill Army values in others, I must internalize and demonstrate them myself. My personal values may and probably do extend beyond the Army values, to include such things as political, cultural, or religious beliefs. However, if I am to be an Army leader and a person of integrity, these values must reinforce, not contradict, Army values.
Lastly, what must I am as an Army leader is to BE, KNOW, and DO. I must have character, that combination of values and attributes that underlie my ability to see what needs to be done, decide to do it, and influence others to follow me. I must to be competent, that is, possess the knowledge and skills required to do my job right. And I must lead; take the proper actions to accomplish the mission based on what my character tells me is ethically right and appropriate for the situation. Leadership in combat, the greatest challenge, requires a basis for our motivation and will. That foundation is Army values. In them are rooted the basis for the character and self-discipline that generate the will to succeed and the motivation to persevere. From this motivation derives the lifelong work of self-development in the skills that make a successful Army leader, one who walks the talk of BE, KNOW, DO.