Are you professional?

by Lt. Col. Lloyd A. Malone Jr. 603rd Air Operations Center

As you go about your assigned daily duties in the Air Force, do you consider yourself a professional Airman? Why ask such an obvious question?

A professional in any industry can be defined as an individual formally certified after completion of a delineated course of studies and whose competence can be measured against an established set of standards.

Considering yourself a professional means your opinions have more impact when it comes to your particular area of expertise. As Airmen, we are viewed by the public as having in-depth knowledge of airpower, ready at any moment to apply that knowledge as part of a concentrated effort to support our country’s overall strategic goals and objectives.

That responsibility is also paramount as we form a cohesive bond with our European allies here in Germany. They depend on us to bring our best effort to the table every day.


Rightly so, we are considered a professional just by showing up in uniform and having achieved the entry goals to become an Airman. What do you do to reinforce that image? Are you striving to become an expert at your job? Are you thought of as a source of information by those around you? Do you understand how your responsibilities fit in the overall effort of the Air Force?

While difficult to discern and completely explain, I challenge you to have that mindset, to understand how an aerial porter compliments the efforts of the supreme allied commander Europe in his command of U.S. European Command or how civil engineering supports U.S. Air Forces in Europe’s efforts in U.S. Africa Command.

Supervisors are tasked with showing this on fitness reports, but can you truly articulate your competence if asked by nonmilitary family and friends? To do this, let’s ask a few questions:

• Are you cognizant of the overall happenings in the Air Force? Do you know the most pressing issues facing our service as we evolve from what we were yesterday to what we will be in the future?

• Do you understand the morale and ethos of your unit?

• How do you embody and demonstrate your abilities and awareness on a daily basis?

• Where do you see yourself next year? In five years? Ten years? How are you challenging yourself to do better? How are you challenging others?

I don’t expect everyone to have complete answers to these questions, but you should be thinking about them on a regular basis. As an Airman, you are expected to be a knowledgeable source of information and be able to articulate what you do to anyone who asks. You should represent what it means to be an American and part of the world’s premiere Air Force.

Being a professional Airman means wearing the uniform proudly and presenting a positive image that instills confidence in peers and the public alike. This cannot be over emphasized in light of ongoing terrorism. Take pride in what you do and the reputation you have earned and in the future you are building while in the service of your country. I challenge you to be that source of confidence and strength attributed to U.S. Air Force personnel and the rest of the armed services and imbue that which is expected by your fellow citizens. Be a professional!