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    The Progressive Discipline Process



    Story by Capt. Jason Sanchez 

    144th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

    Following a presentation about the Inspector General Complaint process during a headquarters commander’s call, Aug. 2, 2019, U.S. Air Force Col. Jeremiah Cruz, 144th Fighter Wing commander, and Lt. Col. John Sliney, 144th Fighter Wing inspector general, answered questions about how discipline and punishment should work in the National Guard. These ideas followed the presentation when the question was raised, “What stops any negative personnel action from being taken to the IG?”

    Col. Cruz began answering the concern by emphasizing that we do not punish individuals just to punish them. “We use progressive punishment with the purpose of correction,” said Cruz. “That’s how the system works.”

    Col. Cruz explained the importance of defining standards during feedback sessions and counseling subordinates when there is a need.
    When a supervisor fails to correct a subordinate’s lack of adherence to standards, the situation often escalates, causing supervisors to become more agitated, and subordinates to be shocked when action is ultimately taken.

    Col. Cruz admitted, while not pleasant, supervisors and commanders are expected to administer corrective actions. He also highlighted the importance of documenting those actions.

    “It protects the member, and it protects the organization,” said Cruz. “I want our Airmen to feel comfortable and our leaders to feel comfortable.”

    Before initiating discipline, it’s always important for a supervisor to define standards and expectations to subordinates. The goal is to set each individual up for success.

    Expectations should be given during initial feedback sessions and at a midpoint between Enlisted Performance Reviews or Officer Performance Reviews for active duty Airmen, according to Air force Instruction 36-2406. Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve traditional Airmen are not required to have formal feedback sessions, but the philosophy and the intent of the reviews still apply.

    When a negative personnel action is needed, the action should reflect the degree of the incident. Generally, disciplinary action should also be progressive, beginning with a verbal warning, and then continuing with a letter of counseling (or a letter of admonition), a letter of reprimand, an Article 15, or in the most serve cases, a Court-Marshal.
    For higher level disciplinary actions, the establishment of an Unfavorable Information File is usually required according to AFI 36-2907.

    Lt. Col. John Sliney, 144th Fighter Wing inspector general, said, “The goal of the progressive discipline process is to make the individual a productive member of the Air Force.”

    In his experience as a commanding officer, Lt. Col. Sliney was able to correct almost all instances when an Airman was not meeting standards.
    He said that most important part of corrective discipline is to use the formal documentation and to have the Airman sign the document.

    “Once people have to sign something, it’s taken more seriously,” said Sliney “And the individual usually never has that problem again.”



    Date Taken: 09.06.2019
    Date Posted: 12.02.2019 13:57
    Story ID: 352700
    Location: CA, US

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