All Airmen responsible for upholding, enforcing AF standards

Master Sgt. Lester Luker

Have you ever seen an Airman standing in line with their hands in their pockets while in uniform? Have you ever been at the Dining Facility and noticed someone with their battle dress uniform shirt off while eating lunch? Have you ever heard someone’s car radio from clear across the parking lot?
Now here is the big question. How many of those times did you say something to correct the error?
I understand that everyone slips up now and then. You may become distracted while chatting with your buddies and, out of habit, your hand finds its way into the pocket. You may be in a rush and without thinking, start walking while talking on the cell phone. You may be working hard and your hair falls down below the collar. Are these life threatening situations? Probably not. However, not only does it look unprofessional, it is also counter to AFI 36-2903, Dress and Personnel Appearance of Air Force Personnel, and recent changes from the 96th Uniform Board.
I remember a particular squadron function where I was approached by a female senior noncommissioned officer. She pointed out a female Airman whose hair was out of guidance; it looked faddish. She then pointed out that as the first sergeant, I needed to go counsel the young lady and have her fix her hair. I have to admit that I was really taken aback by this. I had never seen this SNCO hesitate to speak her mind on any topic or to anyone. Yet here she seemed to be hesitant on making a simple uniform correction.
For some reason that I cannot fathom, there are quite a few people who seem to turn a blind eye to uniform infractions. Is it because they are not paying attention to what is going on around them and unaware of the mistake? Is it because they think they do not have the authority or that they would be embarrassed? Is it that they want to avoid confrontation? Given that we are human and make errors, who will assist us with correcting these issues? Fellow Airmen? Supervisors? Leadership? Whose responsibility is it anyway?
AFI 36-2618, The Enlisted Force Structure states that
it is a general noncommissioned officer’s responsibility to clarify Air Force standards regarding such things as duty performance, safety, on or off-duty behavior, professional or unprofessional relationships, and personal appearance. Be alert to personnel who violate Air Force standards and immediately correct them.
This does not mean that you have to yell and scream. Usually a simple reminder will go a long way and will be remembered much longer.
Does this mean that making corrections are limited to NCOs? Not at all. If your buddies let you walk around with uniform violations, they are doing you an injustice. I expect anyone who notices something wrong with my uniform to bring it to my attention. Not only do I accept it, it’s their duty to do so.
Here are some common, easily correctable issues that I have seen recently at Cannon Air Force Base:
— Improperly wearing or allowing civilians to wear the new PT uniform
— Standing or walking with hands in pockets while in uniform
— Car radios that can be heard more than 50 feet away
— BDU shirts off while at eating establishments, both on and off-base
— Backpacks that strap across the chest while in uniform
— Males wearing earrings on base (including dorm room)
— Walking and talking on cellular phone while in uniform
— Running or walking while wearing headphones
— Wearing sunglasses inside
— Not wearing a hat outside, especially in base housing
— Females with bangs in their eyes
— Uniform too small – if the buttons are screaming, get a new one
As members of the military, it is our duty to maintain the highest of standards. Attention to detail is the only way to achieve this goal and truly live “Excellence in All We Do.”
When someone asks – “When do you say something to correct uniform infractions?” You will be able to answer — “Every time!”