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Commentary | April 1, 2009

Building a dream home

By Master Sgt. Tommy Brooks 380th Expeditionary Contracting Squadron

Editor's note: Master Sgt. Tommy Brooks is currently deployed from Langley's 1st Contracting Squadron. 

A few weeks ago, I was selected as one of the new Senior Master Sgts. in the Air Force. Understanding the significance of being promoted to the top 3 percent of the enlisted force, I wanted to take this opportunity to give individuals the basic foundation of my success in the military.

How did I get here? If I had to single out a particular person, place or a thing; I would have to look back over more than 18 years of service. However, taking a quick glimpse of my career thus far, I would have to narrow it down to these few things or principles: 1) The Little Blue Book; 2) The Little Brown Book; and 3) Professionalism.

I know you are probably asking yourself what is the Little Blue Book. Well I will tell you, the "Blue Book" is the Air Force Core Values: Integrity First, Service Before Self, and Excellence in All We Do.

In 1995, the Honorable Sheila E. Widnall, Secretary of the Air Force and General Ronald E. Folgleman, Air Force Chief of Staff approved these core values for the United States Air Force. As a young Senior Airman at this point in my career, these simple core values served as my road map and foundation for inspiration and guidance when I embarked on my path as a military professional.

I firmly believe that without integrity, the central foundation of our core values fails and without service before self, our mission fails and without excellence in all we do, our profession of arms fails and we dishonor the moral fabric of our nation.

Your second question, the Little Brown Book is the Enlisted Force Structure AFI 36-2618. The Enlisted Force Structure instruction was instrumental in laying out the framework for my career progression and assumption of increased supervisory and leadership roles. This construct provided the ground roots of understanding the core competencies of leadership, management, and warrior ethos.

As for your third question, how does professionalism fit into this equation? To use General Sir John Hacket's term "unlimited liability clause", we distinguish ourselves from any other profession by this term alone. We are a profession of arms; this is how I approach each and every day as a professional. I try to set myself apart from others while standing on the foundation but within the framework.

As we serve in the profession of arms, several things must remain a constant for the success of our nation, Air Force and you the individual: 1) be the consummate professional; 2) live the core values; 3) build and uphold the framework. Always keep your eyes on the picture and not your picture.

Let me leave you with this visual. Imagine you were building your dream house. Professionalism would represent your concept, idea or drawings of your dream home. The Little Blue Book would be foundation upon which your house is to be built. Lastly, the Little Brown book is the framework necessary to construct your dream home on the foundation using your drawings.

Remember, your career is no different.