How Are the Virtues Related to the Air Force Core Values?

Title: How Are the Virtues Related to the Air Force Core Values?


The United States Air Force (USAF) is renowned for its core values, which guide its members in accomplishing their mission with excellence and integrity. These core values, Integrity First, Service Before Self, and Excellence in All We Do, are ingrained in every airman’s mindset, shaping their conduct both on and off-duty. However, the Air Force also recognizes the importance of virtues in fostering a strong ethical foundation. This article explores the relationship between the virtues and the Air Force core values, highlighting their significance in shaping airmen into exceptional leaders.

The Virtues and Their Relevance to Air Force Core Values:

1. Integrity:
Integrity is the cornerstone of the Air Force core values. It encompasses honesty, honor, and adherence to a strong moral code. Cultivating the virtues of courage, self-discipline, and fairness further enhances an airman’s ability to uphold the highest standards of integrity, both personally and professionally.

2. Service:
Service Before Self demands airmen to put the needs of others and the mission above personal interests. The virtues of selflessness, compassion, and humility enable airmen to serve with dedication, empathy, and a genuine commitment to the well-being of their fellow airmen, the Air Force, and the nation.

3. Excellence:
Excellence in All We Do requires airmen to strive for perfection, continuously seeking improvement and delivering outstanding results. The virtues of diligence, perseverance, and wisdom drive airmen to go above and beyond, pursuing excellence in their skills, knowledge, and character, thus bolstering the Air Force’s commitment to excellence.

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The Interplay between Virtues and Core Values:

The virtues and core values are intertwined, influencing and reinforcing each other. The virtues provide a broader ethical framework that supports the Air Force core values, shaping airmen’s character and behavior. At the same time, the core values serve as guiding principles that ensure the virtues are operationalized, making them actionable and measurable in the daily lives of airmen.


1. Are the virtues explicitly mentioned in Air Force doctrine?
No, the virtues are not explicitly mentioned in Air Force doctrine. However, they are understood to be integral to the development of airmen’s character and are often emphasized in training and leadership programs.

2. How does the Air Force teach and promote the virtues among airmen?
The Air Force incorporates the virtues into professional military education, leadership development programs, and character-building initiatives. These platforms provide airmen with opportunities to reflect on and develop their virtues.

3. Can airmen exhibit virtues outside the scope of their military duties?
Absolutely. The virtues transcend military service and are applicable to all aspects of an airman’s life. Airmen are encouraged to embody the virtues in their personal relationships, community involvement, and daily interactions.

4. How do the virtues contribute to airmen’s moral decision-making?
The virtues provide a moral compass, enabling airmen to make principled decisions when faced with ethical dilemmas. By embodying virtues such as courage, integrity, and fairness, airmen can navigate complex situations with wisdom and ethical clarity.

5. Are the virtues equally important for all ranks within the Air Force?
Yes, the virtues are equally important for all ranks. They are universal principles that guide airmen at all levels, irrespective of rank or position, promoting a culture of integrity, service, and excellence throughout the Air Force.

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6. Can the virtues be cultivated and developed over time?
Absolutely. Like any other skill or trait, the virtues can be nurtured and developed through deliberate practice, self-reflection, and continuous learning. The Air Force provides numerous opportunities for airmen to develop their virtues through professional development programs and mentorship.

7. How do the virtues contribute to effective leadership within the Air Force?
The virtues are indispensable in effective leadership. They enable leaders to inspire trust, motivate their teams, and make sound decisions that align with the Air Force core values. By embodying virtues, leaders serve as role models for their subordinates, fostering a culture of excellence and integrity.

8. Can the virtues help airmen overcome adversity?
Yes, the virtues serve as a source of strength and resilience during challenging times. By embodying virtues such as courage, perseverance, and self-discipline, airmen can overcome obstacles, adapt to change, and maintain their focus on accomplishing the mission.

9. Are there any specific virtues that the Air Force emphasizes more than others?
While all virtues are important, the Air Force particularly emphasizes integrity, as it forms the foundation for the other core values. Integrity is essential for airmen to build trust, maintain accountability, and uphold the Air Force’s reputation.

10. Are the virtues static or subject to change based on societal values?
The virtues are timeless and universal principles that are not subject to change based on societal values. They provide a stable moral framework that transcends societal shifts, ensuring airmen maintain a strong ethical foundation regardless of external influences.

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11. How do the virtues contribute to fostering a sense of camaraderie among airmen?
The virtues promote teamwork, mutual respect, and trust among airmen. By embodying virtues such as selflessness, compassion, and fairness, airmen foster an environment of camaraderie, where all members feel valued, supported, and united in pursuit of a common goal.

12. How can airmen actively incorporate the virtues in their daily lives?
Airmen can actively incorporate the virtues by practicing self-reflection, seeking feedback, and consciously making choices aligned with the virtues. By continuously evaluating their actions and decisions against the virtues, airmen can ensure their conduct reflects the highest ethical standards both in and out of uniform.


The virtues and the Air Force core values are intertwined, reinforcing one another in shaping airmen’s character, conduct, and leadership abilities. By embracing the virtues of integrity, service, and excellence, airmen embody the core values, fostering a culture of honor, dedication, and ethical excellence within the United States Air Force.

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