Loyalty is integral to everything we do

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Don Fuller
  • 8th Operations Support Squadron commander
Loyalty is integral to everything we do

by Lt. Col. Don Fuller
8th Operations Support Squadron commander

11/20/2007 - KUNSAN AIR BASE, South Korea -- To whom do you give your loyalty? What is loyalty and how does it affect you and our Air Force? As I began to contemplate the concept of loyalty, I realized how integral loyalty is to everything we do as Airmen. Loyalty is a multi-faceted virtue that flows both up and down the chain of command as well as laterally among our peers. It has the capability to hold units together in spite of the harshest conditions, including combat. Loyalty is an essential part of who we are and how we react to adversity. Loyalty really means putting something or someone above your own self-interest. Loyalty embodies putting "Service Before Self."

Each of us took an oath to support and defend the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic. This is the beginning of our understanding of loyalty as members of the U.S. Armed Forces . We owe the leaders of our nation and those appointed over us our loyalty. By putting the needs of our nation and our service above our own needs we live up to the highest ideals set forth by the founders of our nation as well as all of those heroes who have served before us.

However, loyalty does not only extend to high ideals and to officials placed in authority over us. Loyalty also extends to those we lead, our subordinates. Each time we put the personal and professional needs of those who work for us ahead of our own self-interest, we strengthen our team, our unit and our Air Force. During our tenure in the Air Force, each of us will have the opportunity to lead others. Whether the number of Airmen we lead is 10 or 10,000, it does not make a difference to the loyalty we must demonstrate to them on a daily basis. We must care for those we lead more than we care for ourselves. The needs of subordinates always outweigh the wants of a good leader and even outweigh the needs of a great leader.

Finally, loyalty must be directed to those around us who may not be in our chain of command. Those who work with us must trust us and the way trust is developed is through continuing demonstrations of loyalty to one another. Peer-to-peer loyalty is what the Air Force concept of a Wingman is all about. We must take care of each other because there may come a time in combat where each other is all we have.

Loyalty is a powerful virtue, but it can easily be twisted. Above all, loyalty means doing the right thing for those around us and for our service. If you find yourself protecting someone out of "loyalty" for doing something wrong, you have misplaced your loyalty and put your need for acceptance above the needs of our service. Loyalty ought not to be given lightly or without serious thought.

Loyalty is the glue that binds us together as Airmen. It is enormously powerful and has the potential to make good organizations great. Each of us must conscientiously give our loyalty in all three dimensions. By carefully managing where our loyalties lie, we can ensure that we maintain a personal and professional balance while strengthening the organization to which we belong and helping all the people with whom we work.