By Col. Jack Weinstein , 30th Space Wing Commander
/ Published October 16, 2006
VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. --
This past weekend, one of our own was cited for Driving While Intoxicated and, fortunately, was released to his first sergeant before injuring someone else or himself. I thought about this incident and the Airman that was cited recently for Driving Under the Influence, and our other DUIs this past calendar year, and tried to connect the dots on a problem that not only faces the 30th Space Wing, but other Air Force Wings and installations around the world.
While it is true that alcohol abuse and a general lack of safety awareness exist at some Air Force locations, I don't believe that's our main issue.
I'm convinced that every Airman assigned to the 30th SW and throughout Vandenberg Air Force Base understands the importance of safety and the fact that a DUI or DWI either on or off base is unacceptable and simply will not be tolerated--my responsibility is your safety and the safety of those around you. To take it a step further, I believe that 99% of you joined the Air Force to serve your country with pride; not to make bad decisions or exercise poor judgment.
On the positive end of the scale, I observe members of the Vandenberg Team every week performing magic accomplishing our launch, range, and expeditionary missions with pride, professionalism and the utmost integrity. Every wing commander's call, I remind you of safety and the dangers that exist in and around the Central Coast; even though sometimes the message may appear to be redundant. Finally, this commentary closes with a safety reminder and a requirement for you to use your wingman and to be a good wingman in return. So if safety messages are everywhere and I don't feel that alcohol is our main issue, then what is it?
Leadership. Leadership is the sole reason why some organizations are successful and others are not--it isn't luck, it is leadership. Simply stated, the solution to our problem rests with you...the dedicated supervisor. Being a good supervisor is more than the ability to maintain good order and discipline, the keystone of being a good supervisor is the ability to mentor our Airmen 24 X 7. How? By acknowledging their achievements, preparing award packages, counseling them when needed and knowing what is going on in their lives.
This is a fulltime assignment that goes well beyond Monday through Friday, 0730-1630. This is nothing new. A statute found in Title 10 of the United States Code specifically states that all commanding officers and others in authority (i.e., Officers, NCOs and supervisors) in the Air Force are required to show in themselves a good example of virtue, honor, patriotism, and subordination and to be vigilant in inspecting the conduct of all persons who are placed under their command.
Additionally, they are to take all necessary and proper measures, under the laws, regulations, and customs of the Air Force to promote and safeguard the morale, physical well-being, and the general welfare of the officers and enlisted persons under their command or charge.
Being a commander or supervisor is a big deal and those Airmen in leadership positions understand that. It demands a relentless attention to detail and an unwavering standard of excellence that is never, ever compromised.
Our commanders and supervisors offer the solution to our problem in the form unwavering commitment to our most important resource every single day. They are the first and last line of defense in curbing a problem that plagues this, and many other installations. Email, phone calls, and mass briefings are simply communication tools; they in no way substitute for eye-to-eye, personal leadership that our commanders and supervisors provide. They have an incredibly important and influential responsibility to look after you and provide every possible avenue for you to make good, informed, safe decisions.
Good order and discipline is the foundation of every military organization.
We have standards in our military and those standards must be upheld both on and off duty. Our commanders and supervisors should know their people, know their problems, know their strengths and weaknesses, and know when to intervene, mentor, support, and if needed, discipline. It doesn't happen overnight by reading records or writing performance reports, it happens by getting with you, one-on-one, so that you have a place, a role, and a reason to act responsibly and truly care about our mission and about serving your country. There is nothing we do that is more important than caring for our people.
Stay safe, don't drink and drive, be a great wingman, and listen up to your commander or supervisor when he or she takes a personal, genuine interest in your well-being.
Take good care of yourself this weekend and I'll see you next week.