Professional Airmen are bedrock of today’s Air Force

  • Published
  • By Chief Master Sgt. Marcus Snoddy
  • 425th Air Base Group superintendent
What does it mean to be a professional? Where does the word "professional" come from? 

As a chief master sergeant with more than 23 years of service, I've often thought about these issues and tried to come up with a simple answer: You can't be a "professional" until you understand the meaning of the word "profession," and make a conscious decision to join the profession of Airmen. 

According to the Webster's Dictionary, the word "professional," when used as a noun, means "one skilled in a profession" and, according to Collins, Ghey, and Mills English dictionary, "... profession often refers specifically to fields that require extensive study and mastery of specialized knowledge." 

Based on this, to be a professional you must first belong to a profession. So, are you a member of a profession? Is the Air Force your profession? Are you a professional Airman? 

Unprofessional Airmen see the Air Force as merely a job. To them it's a "nine-to-five" and their uniforms are just clothing they take off at the end of their "duty day." Unprofessional Airmen fail to uphold the promise they made to "support and defend the Constitution against all enemies ..." because they view their oath as just a formality and nothing else. 

Unprofessional Airmen believe requirements like adherence to standards, such as displaying proper customs and courtesies or addressing personnel by their rank are remants of the "brown shoe" Air Force and should be revised or removed. Unfortunately, what they refuse to realize is that these ideals form the very bedrock upon which our nation's trust in its Airmen lie. 

If you have yet to make the Air Force your profession, I recommend you do so quickly because there's no room and zero tolerance for unprofessional Airmen in today's professional Air Force. 

If the Air Force is your chosen profession, that's outstanding! Whether you've decided to serve four years or 20, I proudly salute you and stand ready to assist during your professional journey. 

As professional Airmen,we ensure tomorrow's Airmen inherit a technologically relevant, operationally proficient and strategically important air, space, and cyberspace force. We understand what the Air Force demands of its Airmen and unflinchingly carry out our duties. 

We exemplify the standards and enforce them without fail; we revel at the chance to deploy and test our skills because we recognize the important role experience plays in our leadership development. Finally, we epitomize Air Force core values of Integrity first, Service before self, and Excellence in all we do. We understand their importance and recognize they are critical to our professional competency. 

So, which Airman are you? Are you the professional Airman whose daily actions and interactions proudly proclaim your commitment to your chosen Air Force profession? Or, are you the unprofessional Airman who's more concerned about himself and his own comforts?