Let the bullets fly

  • Published
  • By 2nd Lt. David Liapis
  • 366th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
"Bullets are everywhere! There's blood all over the place! There's an impact over there and some action over here! Who knows what the results are going to be?"
It's that time of year again. It's time to fill out Air Force Form 1206's and get your service dress ready just in case. Dust off that thesaurus and massage those words until they fit just right.

Why all the hubbub? Why go through all the trouble to create award packages for our subordinates, or even ourselves? Does it really matter enough to justify all the hours spent and stress gained?

Regardless of any negative personal experiences or opinions about any level of Air Force award programs, they serve multiple purposes. Whether your focus is on unit and organizational level awards as directed by Air Force Instruction 36-2803 or individual awards as defined in AFI 36-2805, the goal is the same: to recognize units and individuals for outstanding achievements.

According to Air Force Pamphlet 36-2241, or the "PDG" as it's better known, the award program "is designed to foster morale, incentive, and esprit de corps."

Still, some people think awards are pointless and a waste of time.

Like it or not, awards and other forms of recognition end up on performance reports. Being elevated above your peers paves the way for future success. Whether you want to be a 14-year chief, get promoted "below-the-zone" or serve four years and get out an award, or even a nomination, will show that your leadership has you on their mind in a good way. This will help you during and after your military career in more ways than you may realize now.

"Ok, but what about the people who win just because their supervisor has the time and ability to write a great package? Shouldn't it be all about the person, not how great the package was written?"

Yes, it should be the nominee's actions that are graded. However, as unfair or wrong as it sounds, the appearance of the package does make a difference. This is where the saying, "no one cares more about your career than you do," comes into play. Whether you're an airman first class or a major, you should be actively involved in the process. If you want a package that accurately reflects the great things you did and looks sharp, do what you need to do to make that happen.

Some feel that the whole awards system is too subjective to be valid.

Yes, there is subjectivity in the grading process due to the simple fact 1206's are graded by different people with different standards, expectations and focus areas. At the end of the day though, whether someone grades hard or easy, has high or low average raw scores, they generally end up ranking the nominees the same.

At any point in the package-building process there might be a weak link. It might be the bullet writer or the editor. Just don't let it be you. Do amazing things on the job, volunteer and serve and give your supervisor something to work with. If you get out there and perform to the best of your ability, you will be recognized. Even if you get bested by someone you think is undeserving, shake it off and try again next time. You'll know you did your best, and that's what really matters.