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#AFSTRAT LOE 4 Response: Evolving Air Force Culture - Patrick Helsing

In our fourth instalment in our series on how can you help make the #AFSTRAT a reality, Flying Officer Patrick Helsing raises important questions about potential disconnects between the values of Air Force and broader Australian society.


AFSTRAT 2020 LOE 4 outlines Air Force’s intent to evolve its culture to reflect that of Australia’s demographics in order to deliver air and space power. Australian society’s perception of Air Force culture directly impacts the willingness for underrepresented groups to consider military service. For the Air Force to be viewed by these groups as an attractive employer of choice, it needs to better understand and address the values of the younger generation of people who will be joining the Air Force of tomorrow.

LOE 4 states that understanding cultural norms and questioning the status quo is a necessary element to recruiting and sustaining an inclusive Air Force. Two widely different examples illustrate that we may not currently be reflecting the culture of many young Australians. Many high schools across Australia are abandoning stringent grooming standards. Meanwhile, the Royal Air Force has allowed its members to grow beards. This leads us to question whether current Air Force grooming standards are really value adding to air and space power, or aligns with the values of young Australians across society. Similarly, while the Roulettes provide a means for recruitment; their target is an environmentally mindful generation also concerned about the real effects of global warming. Therefore, the use of superfluous pollutants such as smoke to make their displays more entertaining may not be culturally aligned to the values of many young Australians.

To achieve the AFSTRAT LOE 4 goal of evolving the Air Force’s culture so it reflects the values of the Australian people, we must be proactive in our approach. Our goal must be to better understand and address the values of young Australians – the Air Force members of tomorrow.


Flying Officer Patrick Helsing is an Aeronautical Engineer in the Royal Australian Air Force. He joined the Air Force in 2018 after working in private industry and is currently studying a Masters of Space Engineering at UNSW Canberra while working in a System Safety role at Air Training and Aviation Commons Systems Program Office. Follow him on LinkedIn @Patrick Helsing