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An professional and world famend writer on management, Dale Carnegie stated “People work for cash but go the additional mile for recognition, reward and rewards (Carnegie, 1936).” That statement rings true in both the private and professional strivings of a human. It is straightforward to assign an individual a task, count on them to maintain the status quo, and make the most of no other leadership tools to additional their work ethic or motivation. However, true leadership comes when one can have all the same tools and produce much higher results by merely utilizing the free software of motivation.

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In the army the Awards and Decorations program has been in use for the reason that Revolutionary War, established by George Washington on August 7th, 1782. General Washington issued orders establishing two decorations, the “Badge of Distinction” and “The Military Badge of Merit”, displayed, respectively, as white material sewn above the left cuff and a heart in purple fabric worn on the left breast (Moran). Over the course of the next one hundred fifty years, the Awards and Decorations system held its value and importance, honoring those that went above and past in obligation and sacrifice.

At the tip of World War II the us Army had 14 whole decorations, together with three marketing campaign medals, a victory medal, a Women’s Army Corps Service Medal, and nine of the nation’s current highest valor medals (Sherman, 2013). Today the Air Force boasts higher than fifty nine decorations, not to embody unit degree awards (Air Force Instruction (AFI) 36-2803, 2013). Over the course of almost a hundred and fifty years navy decorations increased by 12, over the last 80 years that number has elevated more than 4 times.

Are these service members more deserving now than in World War II? Or does the Air Force have a unique perspective on rewarding their members more typically now? This paper will address the current state of awards, focusing particularly on unit degree awards and the nomination, writing, and profitable process, together with the second and third order effects on the member and the time required to write and course of awards. It may even address the Air Force wide phenomena of awards and decorations that no longer encourage the member and surrounding individuals to perform at a higher stage or work to further the unit’s mission assertion and commander’s intent.

Unit awards include quarterly and annual shows, broken down further into a myriad of categories by qualification and rank. The wing commander sets the requirements for every award, however typically no additional descriptions are given. Awards are written on the AF1206, a clean canvas for a specified variety of lines to summarize the achievements of an individual or unit. Nowhere is it written what specifics a member must obtain to warrant, and even win, the award. Winners are simply determined by being the “best of the pool,” not by how they did when in comparability with a normal of excellence and achievement. There is presently no bar set to measure degree of accomplishment above and past responsibility necessities. One choice to set that bar should be the unit’s mission assertion, commander’s intent, unit values, or imaginative and prescient; it is how the unit inspires and motivates its individuals. Changing the major target of these awards may be the linchpin of motivation and inspiration for the airmen, it may possibly bring about new ideas and higher work ethics. A second option to set a tangible and constant measure of an airmen towards a items values are the four Major Graded Areas (MGA) for each base (Appendix A). These areas consist of Executing the Mission, Managing Resources, Improving the Unit, and Leading People (Air Force Instruction (AFI) 90-201, 2018). All aspects that may warrant an award are coated underneath these areas, but might be additional specified by including the unit’s priorities. Using the 4 MGAs for Joint Base Lewis-McChord from a 2014 Unit Inspection, the 62nd Maintenance Group Commander noted the details of the category of Managing Resources (Appendix C): “·Evaluating stewardship will contain traditional checks on use of government funds, tools, and amenities. Stewardship will also include a determination on whether commanders and supervisors finest used “Airmen’s Time.” Stated another means, leaders at the unit level must demonstrate how they’ve used innovation to minimize the time required to execute duties or complete training· (Colonel Gaddis, 2014).” Utilizing this specific space, an airman is aware of exactly what normal must be upheld, and what must be carried out above and past to gain recognition for revolutionary or excellence of their duties. For example, if looking at an award bundle for a C-17 maintainer, someone who created a course of to decrease time on an inspection, better utilizing airmen time, would have gone above and past what is anticipated. In a unique example, a pilot who better utilized given sources to increase coaching and conduct operations would fall into this class and would have clearly exceeded the usual, warranting praise and emulation. Not only does the airman know what to do to achieve praise, the approving authorities know exactly what commonplace to compare the airman to when looking at the package deal. This is introduced as a change to the AF1206, every unit would add both their 4 MGAs or the unit’s vision or priorities to the form and allow for area to write down bullets in accordance with one or a quantity of areas (Appendix B). This prevents the “best of the bunch” from successful the award, whereas motivation is demoralized when award winners usually are not held to a normal. Rather, an airman who has a clear vision of what is required to be recognized as wonderful, or a star performer, works to realize, and when the award is offered, motivates these within the unit to also work in a selected method to further the success of the unit.

Leadership is the foundation of a unit’s success or failure, particularly when within the context of awards and decorations. It is a leader’s duty and requirement when fulfilling a command or supervisory position to know his or her people, and to recognize them when appropriate. According to AFH110.27 “Military members are eligible for consideration for numerous decorations all through their careers. However, supervisors should not submit suggestions just to “do one thing for his or her people.” Supervisors ought to restrict suggestions to recognitions of meritorious service, outstanding achievement, etc., that clearly place the individual above his or her peers (Air Force Handbook (AFH) 1 Department of the Air Force Handbook, 2017).” As a leader or mentor to an airman, one ought to at all times be in search of opportunities to reward and encourage the lengthy run leaders of the Air Force. It is their responsibility and responsibility to ensure the suitable parties are acknowledged, it isn’t the accountability of the member to appoint him or herself to achieve attention or reward. An addition ought to be made to the AF1206 for the nominator to put his or her name, to ensure accountability is held within the nomination course of. This provides leaders an opportunity to guide by example, and subordinates the chance to recognize the importance of acknowledging these deserving when in a leadership place.

The function of awards and decorations is to reward members for glorious conduct or actions above and past the standard of responsibility, concurrently motivating others within the unit to perform at a better commonplace. As Bill Walsh, NFL coach, said “Nothing is simpler than honest, correct praise, and nothing is extra lame than a cookie-cutter compliment (Walsh, n.d.).” Every single airman has a purpose they determined to take the oath, to sacrifice, and to put the uniform on every day; but to maintain them devoted and inspired, they have to feel the real thanks and inspiration of their leadership and friends. Perhaps with a focus on right reward, recognition, and inspiration, the retention issues going through the Air Force could be decreased. It begins with commanders, they must first have accountability for their award course of, guaranteeing the awards are backed by a regular of mission statements or 4 major graded areas, as seen in Appendix B. Second, they need to make sure the supervisors are nominating the right folks, not choosing airmen for OPR/EPR “fodder” or promotions. Every individual in a unit is conscious when awards are given for the sake of filling the award spot, or worse, as a outcome of someone “needs it”. However, when a unit accurately applies motivation and reward, the outcomes are staggering, and exhausting work will see a marked increase. When commanders apply awards in this manner they break the misconception that awards equal stratifications which finally decide success in the Air Force. Leadership, ingenuity, and exhausting work drive success, and awards when applied accurately bolster these traits. Third, and eventually, commanders must guarantee when a member is offered with the award, they share why they won, what they did, and what the standard of excellence seems like. All too typically the award winners are sent out with a simple “Award title- Capt Smith”, which does not provide members a model to emulate. In addition to the aforementioned enhance in motivation and retention, these options would minimize the time spent on writing and processing awards because there would be a strong and steady commonplace to work from on every award. However, if the requirements of this proposal are upheld, if nobody goes above and past the usual of work, then a commander must make the choice to not give out the award, and further drive home the value of the awards and decorations course of. This may quickly upset members, as they modify to a model new course of, and assume about this change as hurting their performance reviews and promotion. Additionally, it’d make the unit “look bad” on paper compared to items that observe a “give all the awards” mentality. However, ultimately, what finally matters is reaching the goal of really motivating members to perform at or above a specified degree of excellence. This resolution provides the member with job satisfaction, private delight, and better levels of labor per airmen. As with any new course of, it have to be completely explained and owned by the management of a unit/wing. Much management is required to vary the best way the Air Force views and handles the awards and decorations process. This system is in place to reward excellence, not the standing quo, and motivation and high quality of labor will suffer until the mindset is changed and folks really feel genuinely encouraged to pursue excellence.


(2017). Air Force Handbook (AFH) 1 Department of the Air Force Handbook. Air Education and Training Center.

(2013). Air Force Instruction (AFI) 36-2803. Air Force Personnel Center.

(2018). Air Force Instruction (AFI) 90-201. Secretary of the Air Force, Inspections Directorate.

Carnegie, D. (1936). How to Win Friends and Influence People. Simon & Schuster.

Colonel Gaddis, C. (2014, September 11). “Safety, Compliance, Innovation, and the USAF Commanders Inspection Program”. Retrieved from McChord AFB:

Moran, D. N. (n.d.). Medals and Awards of the Revolution. Retrieved from Revolutionary War Historical Article, Sons of Liberty Chapter:

Sherman, S. (2013, July). Medals of World War Two. Retrieved from Ace Pilots:

Walsh, B. (n.d.). Employee Recognition Quotes. Retrieved from Snack Nation:

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