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Bring discipline back to the force

OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- We have a discipline problem in our own back yard ... right here on the Korean Peninsula. Pick up a copy of Stars and Stripes or any one of our base papers to see some of our problems in the headlines. Go to any installation gate on a Friday night and you will see more that will open your eyes.

Some elements within the American military in Korea are running amuck. Admittedly, they are a minority, but their actions reflect poorly on all of us individually and on our military image, both here in Korea and at home. These few knuckleheads not only needlessly put their own careers in jeopardy, but they also affect unit morale, readiness and our ability to accomplish the mission. The sad thing is most of the incidents are alcohol related: underage drinking, DUIs, fights, assaults, sexual assaults and rape. The list goes on and on and on.

Why? Why do some Americans come to a foreign country and feel they can say and do anything they want to? Were we brought up to behave this way? Would our parents, families and friends be proud of us for the actions we are taking? I think not. In fact, I know we were not raised this way! We were sent here to help protect Korea and the Korean people; in other words we have a mission ... to be "Ready to Fight Tonight." Our duties may be widely varied -- communications support, security, intelligence, engineers, etc. - but in the end we all have a common goal to "Fight and Win." Then why do some of us do such dumb things? A lack of self-discipline is all I can think of.

I suggest there is a simple solution to this situation. Bring back the discipline to our force. How? Each and every one of us needs be personally accountable for our actions and take responsibility for our fellow comrades in arms as well.

It begins at home! Yes, it begins on our own installations. The first step is to live up to our military ethos; we must enforce our own standards and instill discipline into our force. Get back to the basics. Begin with the little things that we were taught when we first joined the military: dress and personal appearance, saluting, respect to the flag, being physically fit. Then expand the sphere to wearing our reflective belts, not wearing headphones while walking or running on base, body piercing/tattoo standards, safety, controlling alcohol consumption, etc. Doing all of these things as a matter of course makes us disciplined as individuals. Ensuring our wingman or battle buddies do the same makes us a disciplined force, ready and able to meet any challenge.

Too many times we let things slide ... we as Soldiers, Sailors, Marines and Airmen are all responsible for enforcing the standards. It is not the sole responsibility of senior NCOs and officers to enforce standards. All military members are responsible to enforce standards from the newest basic training or officer candidate school graduate to our most senior officers and enlisted personnel. There is not so much difference between each service's standards that we can't correct obvious infractions.

All standards must be adhered to, not just the ones we feel like following or enforcing.

Maintaining standards is a critical part of ensuring we are a disciplined force. Integrity is the fortitude to do the right thing even when no one is looking. That means complying always in all circumstances. It also means not walking by when someone else isn't complying with the standards. Doing so condones inappropriate behavior in others. Stop the individual who is violating the standards along with the NCO, SNCO or officer that walked by and didn't correct the violation. Be polite and correct them on the spot.

It doesn't matter if they are an officer, an enlisted member, a civilian or a dependent. We are a community and need to act accordingly. If they want to give you lip service, get their name and unit and get with their unit leadership. Yes, it is going to be hard, but doing the right thing always is. If we can't do what's right inside the wire, on base, how can we expect our folks to do what's right outside the wire, off base? Enforcement of standards is every military member's duty on and off duty, on and off post. We all have to do it.

When we are disciplined we are able to accomplish many things. From discipline comes the commitment and courage to face immeasurable odds and unbelievable danger. We proved it in Korea 56 years ago, and we are proving it now in Iraq and Afghanistan every day.

The bottom line is we all need to have some discipline and be responsible Soldiers, Sailors, Marines and Airmen. My boss, Lt. Gen. Stephen Wood, puts it like this: "Be like Clark Kent during armistice and like Superman during war." In other words, be the quiet and reserved professional each and every day, ready to pick up your rifle and let hell break loose when the time comes.

Don't let alcohol rule you ... have a drink, be social and have some fun.

Don't drink to the point you don't know what you are doing and you lose your ability to think. Maintain control, don't be controlled. Be disciplined and be "Ready to Fight Tonight!"