Policy Letters, Operating Instructions...and YOU!

  • Published
  • By Avis Resch
  • 86th Airlift Wing Equal Opportunity
When was the last time you picked up your unit's policy letters or operating instructions and read them? I mean actually read them? Has it been a while or has it been ... never? Why do you think leadership creates policy letters and OIs? Why is it your responsibility to read them? I can tell you first hand that a commander's decision to implement these instructions isn't made lightly. They do it to establish a frame work of what's acceptable or unacceptable within our Air Force communities or to simplify and support existing governing Air Force Instructions or guidance. Policy letters and OIs can also contain leadership messages from senior officials on issues affecting the Air Force and its members. That means you and those you supervise and support. So, let's begin by familiarizing you with one specific instruction, Equal Opportunity and Treatment, and how our local policies build on the guiding principles of the Department of Defense and Air Force.

By beginning with the DoD's basic instruction, you'll see how each subsequent policy, down the chain of command, supports it's over all meaning and finally ends up in an OI. I won't quote entire policies but rather specific main points that can be compared between the DoD, Air Force and local policies and OIs, while keeping in mind the primary objective of the EO program is to improve mission effectiveness.

DoD instruction 1350.2 directs us to promote an environment free from personal, social or institutional barriers that prevent members from rising to the highest level of responsibilities possible. Members shall be evaluated only by individual merit, fitness and capability.

AFI 36-1201, Equal Employment Opportunity Complaints, and AFI 36-2706, Military Equal Opportunity Program, outlines how the Air Force will conduct its affairs free from unlawful discrimination and sexual harassment and will provide equal opportunity and treatment for all members irrespective of color, national origin, race, ethnic group, religion or gender, except as prescribed by statue or policy. In addition, civilians are also protected from discrimination based on age and physical and/or mental disability.

With the basics of the DoD and Air Force instructions under our belt, let's take a look at one local guiding principle that supports them both. Gen. Roger Brady, U.S. Air Forces in Europe commander, states in his EO strategy, "Our responsibility to each other is to provide a workplace and living environment free from discrimination and harassing behavior. The standard is mutual respect, plain and simple. Our diversity is one of our greatest strengths. Commanders and leaders at every level must seek ways to embrace diversity and foster an environment of inclusion--not exclusion. Let your organizations know that we, the leadership of USAFE, have zero tolerance for violations of equal opportunity, and will quickly address and correct violations."

Wow, do you think General Brady is serious? If you said yes you would be right. Each commander from General Brady all the way to your respective unit commanders have similar EO policies or OIs. It spans all numbered Air Forces, wings and subordinate units in our Air Force community. So by the time EO information is in your hands there should be no doubt how the DoD, Air Force, major command and unit commanders feel about and the lengths they will go to support the overarching EO philosophy.

Now, let me go back to the beginning and ask you again. When was the last time you read your policy letters or OIs? Hopefully, you now have an understanding of the principles that govern EO and why policy letters and OIs are important and helpful in disseminating useful information. All-in-all, it's leadership's responsibility to inform you of various issues via policy letters and OIs; however, it's your responsibility to read them. Bottom line? Reading and understanding all policy letters and OIs, not just EO's, is imperative to keeping us, both military and civilian, on track.

If you would like to read any of the EO policy letters in their entirety, please feel free to contact your unit support staff or the EO office at 489-8534 or 86aw.eo@ramstein.af.mil. If you would like to know more about other policies or OIs that pertain to your specific unit, please contact your respective first sergeant.