Call it like it is

Col. Craig D. Wills is the commander of the 39th Air Base Wing at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey. As commander, Colonel Wills is responsible for approximately 5,000 U.S. military, civilian and contractor personnel and the combat readiness of U.S. Air Force units at Incirlik and two geographically-separated units in Turkey.

Col. Craig D. Wills is the commander of the 39th Air Base Wing at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey. As commander, Colonel Wills is responsible for approximately 5,000 U.S. military, civilian and contractor personnel and the combat readiness of U.S. Air Force units at Incirlik and two geographically-separated units in Turkey. (U.S. Air Force photo/Released)

INCIRLIK AIR BASE, Turkey -- Have you ever done something wrong, intentional or not, that other people might not find out about or at least know who was responsible?

Those are defining moments in our lives. Those are moments that can either build character as we make the tough decision to fess up, or they can reveal weakness and lack of integrity that's incompatible with our Air Force core values.

One of the hardest things in life is to perform a truly objective and honest self-assessment. None of us like to be embarrassed, and our pride often gets in the way of our objectivity. It takes courage to stand up and admit when we're wrong, or when we're failing to get the job done.

None of us are perfect, and the jobs we do are incredibly complex. That means we're going to make a few mistakes along the way. The Airmen I respect most are those who are willing to admit when they make a mistake and take responsibility for their actions and programs.

As an Air Force, we need to embrace a culture that rewards honesty and personal responsibility. When a teammate identifies a shortcoming, our first instinct should be to address the problem, not to belittle the individual or the situation.

The Air Force recently revamped its inspection system, empowering wings to perform more self-assessments instead of spending money sending large inspection teams all over the world to do what Airmen at the bases can do themselves. However, this new approach requires integrity, honesty and a dose of humility.

I have yet to see a perfect organization in my 23 years in the Air Force. However, one thing I learned along the way is that the best teams are honest with themselves, acknowledge their mistakes and find a way to get better.

I ask you to help our wing, our Air Force and our nation by having the courage and integrity to "call it like it is." Don't be afraid to admit mistakes, or to identify problems.

The Incirlik way is to run towards our problems, not away from them. Doing so will make our wing and our Airmen more combat ready.

Lt Gen Mueller, the Air Force Inspector General said it best when he visited Incirlik AB last week: "Know your job, do your job, and tell the truth."