Two questions for 4th FW Airmen: Are you combat ready? Are you disciplined?

SEYMOUR JOHNSON AIR FORCE BASE, N.C. -- Before you answer the questions, allow me to set the conditions for a more thorough and introspective answer as we move forward as a team to take on some tough challenges this summer and fall, to include future battles that the 4th Fighter Wing will be called upon to deliver supportive and devastating airpower and combat support to the combatant commander. Our wing's priorities have not changed with our efforts focusing on taking care of Airmen and their families while the Airmen will take care of the mission -- being combat ready for the upcoming air and space expeditionary force and operational readiness inspection while continuing to train the combat air force's F-15Es aircrews. That being said, I suggest being combat ready and being disciplined are one in the same, ultimately leading you to meet and exceed your potential as an individual and as a teammate, reaching for the greater good of the organization and achieving its goals and objectives. Hold that thought; we'll get back to this subject later.

After two and a half months of wing command, you have heard me discuss history, combat readiness, priorities, purpose, challenges, opportunities, expectations, service, humility and the importance of making smart decisions while avoiding destructive behavior that could endanger your lives and that of your loved ones. Let's take a moment and talk about discipline and the importance of that word and its multiple meanings within our military. I'm not talking about the type of discipline you give out with respect to punishment, but the training to act in accordance with rules, like military discipline or drill. Another way of describing discipline is the activity, exercise or regimen that develops or improves a skill. And while these physically-oriented definitions are important with respect to the way we practice for war and build up experience, I would offer the mental aspect of discipline described as behavior in accord with rules of conduct; behavior and order maintained by training and control is much more important to us today and in the future.

No matter how young or old you are, we have all experienced the benefits of discipline living with regards to our thoughts, words, actions and habit patterns. Whether we were young children, teenagers or young adults; teachers, coaches, scout leaders, employers, mentors and parents pushed us mentally and physically. They used varying techniques to make us better in a particular skill set, improving character traits or becoming a better problem solver for the future. It didn't matter whether it was schoolwork, sports or work related. They worked us hard day after day and we continued to get better through repetition, strength and learning. We all heard them say those special words, "Practice makes perfect," yet we weren't sure we knew what they meant. We all achieved certain goals put in front of us, yet our coaches and mentors would continue to raise the bar and encourage us to reach deeper and lift higher to meet new heights they knew we were capable of reaching. As we become older and more experienced, it starts to become clear and makes perfect sense; our elders were showing us the right way to go through life.

Our military way of life and the critically important missions we fulfill for our nation, no matter what rank or position we are in, require us to possess unwavering discipline and meticulous attention to detail toward the way we approach everyday situations. Whether following technical orders or tackling tough challenges and situations on the job or off duty, we have all been trained to maintain those high standards through disciplined thought and tough training. We embrace words like rigorous, focused, methodical, demanding, determined, diligent and accountable. We look for ways to fulfill our responsibilities with relentless tenacity, living within a culture of excellence -- always attempting to attain a higher standard. You can't turn off and on disciplined thinking just for the workplace without encountering numerous difficulties both personally and professionally.

Our wing goal is to become the most disciplined and lethal warriors the Air Force has ever seen. Our heritage and lineage is one of great pride, performance, and incredible courage and discipline. It is our time to step up to the plate and be fully combat ready for our families, teammates in the 4th FW and the nation.

So I ask again, are you combat ready? Are you disciplined? To fulfill our mission each and every day both on and off duty, we need to have the entire team on board -- both disciplined and combat ready to achieve our goals and be ready to fly, fight and win today's fight and conflicts in the future.