Respecting the chain of command

BEALE AIR FORCE BASE, Calif, -- Something I've seen in the past few years that disturbs me is the lack of basic customs and courtesies. When I was assigned to my first duty section and upon being introduced to my supervisor, a senior airman, I extended my hand and said "Good to meet you, Ma'am." Not only did my supervisor accept this display of respect, but I'm sure she expected it. Just as I'm sure she expected me to address anyone who outranked me by their rank and name or sir or ma'am. This is something that seems to have been lost recently.

With members new to the Air Force and their gaining supervisors being closer in age than years past, I think there is an attitude that the two are more equals versus supervisor and subordinate. Whose fault is it that things have become this way? Is the 21 year old staff sergeant or is the 19 year old airman 1st class to blame? The answer is all of the above and then some. I could sit here and recite regulations to back up my argument but I'm not going to do that. See, when I met my first supervisor I didn't know what the little brown book, the enlisted force structure was. All I knew is that she had more stripes on her sleeve than I did, so "Hey, what's up" wasn't the best road to take. Besides, I wanted to start off on a good note. Somehow along the way some Airmen stopped feeling that way and NCOs failed to correct them. This only snowballed when a new Airman came into the section and saw that this was acceptable behavior. While some NCOs will not say anything, believe me, they hold it against an Airman.

Reversing these mistakes are the duties of leaders and followers alike. If you are a supervisor and find yourself in a situation like this, you need to sit down and conduct a feedback with your Airman and re-establish the line of acceptability and then enforce it. If you are an Airman and see a fellow Airman disregarding rank, it is your duty as a wingman to put him on the right path. There are two types of Airmen in today's Air Force; those who do the right thing and those who don't. So ask yourself, what kind of Airman am I?