Code of Conduct--The nature of today's expeditionary force

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Jeremiah Monk
  • 66th Training Squadron
The flexible nature of today's expeditionary service often, and sometimes quite unexpectedly, puts our airmen in situations where their personal security and freedom may be at increased risk. Fortunately, our Air Force is the world leader in preparing our at-risk Airmen to survive and return with honor, and we have done so for the last 45 years. Since the terrorist attacks nearly a decade ago, we have experienced dramatic changes to the way we deploy and fight. No longer are Air Force aircrew and special operators the only Airmen who operate "outside-the-wire." These days, any Airman, from Security Forces to Services to Supply, could quite easily find themselves in a convoy or patrolling a hostile village. As such, nearly all Airmen are at an increased risk of possible isolation or capture.

For those meeting these unfortunate circumstances - and it could be any one of us - we have a Code to govern our actions and help us return with honor. Because any one of us could at any time find ourselves at risk, I believe it fitting for all airmen to routinely review the obligations of our Code, and reflect upon how affects us.
Article I

I am an American, fighting in the forces which guard my country and our way of life. I am prepared to give my life in their defense.

Article I
is universal and enduring. Along with Article VI, it is the only part of the code most of us will ever need to employ. It spells out the entire reason for our being, and obligates us to live by a code of honor. In the execution of our everyday duties, we should never forget that we are here for a higher purpose. Military life is a life of unqualified service, and our service is for one purpose - to safeguard our nation, our people, and the American way of life.

Article II
I will never surrender of my own free will. If in command, I will never surrender the members of my command while they still have the means to resist.
It is the duty of every Airman to never give up. Apply this to the execution of your daily duties. Always strive for success in whatever you do, for if you quit when the going gets rough, how will you abide by the Code when times are truly difficult?

Article III
If I am captured I will continue to resist by all means available. I will make every effort to escape and to aid others to escape. I will accept neither parole nor special favors from the enemy.

Your duties as an American Airman continue regardless of circumstances, training, or your AFSC. As any one of us could quickly find ourselves on the front lines, we must all come to terms with how we would act should we be captured. It will happen quickly and unexpectedly, it will be difficult, and you may have to endure for a very long time. Will you give up? How will you get through it? Will you do your best to maintain honor, to keep faith in your fellow prisoners, and safely return?

Article IV
If I become a prisoner of war, I will keep faith in my fellow prisoners. I will give no information or take part in any action which might be harmful to my comrades. If I am senior, I will take command. If not, I will obey the lawful orders of those appointed over me and will back them up in every way.
Ask any former POW - faith is what got them home, be it faith in country, faith in God, or faith in comrades. As we work and live next to our fellow Airmen in our daily lives, it is important to remember that we have the honor to belong to a sacred brotherhood, and that brotherhood must be protected.

Article V
When questioned, should I become a prisoner of war, I am required to give name, rank, service number, and date of birth. I will evade answering further questions to the upmost of my ability. I will make no oral or written statements disloyal to my country and its allies or harmful to their cause.
The Geneva Convention requires you to offer this information to establish your status and right as a POW. But if your captors demand more information, how will you refrain from divulging anything further? Do you have the proper skills, fortitude, and training to successfully resist years of interrogation? Or torture? If you were notified that you will deploy to Afghanistan next month, are you physically and mentally prepared to face this kind of challenge?

Article VI
I will never forget that I am an American, fighting for freedom, responsible for my actions, and dedicated to the principles which made my country free. I will trust in my God and in the United States of America.
We are Americans. Fighting for freedom. Never forget.