Expeditionary and home station wingmen

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Kevin Rainey
  • 350th Air Refueling Squadron operations officer
As proud, professional, and dedicated members of the most formidable and respected Air Force on the planet, we have an extremely critical role to play as Wingmen: looking out for each other as we accomplish our assigned tasks in support of the mission.

A good wingman helps fellow Airmen weigh the risks of hazardous activities. Being a wingman also demands we encourage each other to follow published guidance or procedures in accomplishing daily tasks. This complements Air Mobility Command's "Back to Basics" theme for the 101 Critical Days of Summer.

Complacency is a significant challenge and recurring theme in the conflict we are currently engaged in. Accordingly, all Airmen must use appropriate techniques to guard against its perils. Additionally, complacency and carelessness are the most common factors in injuries and aircraft mishaps. I challenge you to take personal pride and responsibility to be good expeditionary wingmen during your next deployment as well as good home station wingmen upon return.

The Air Force safety community promotes several risk management programs. These programs embody a common theme-- managing the risks, threats or hazards to safely accomplish tasks.

Whatever program you use, ensure you and your wingmen consider and evaluate the hazards of your daily activities and tasks, on duty or off. Every Airman is a wingman and has an obligation to look out for each other and take action to prevent needless injuries or damage to equipment and/or weapon systems. Before starting a task analyze the three components of every task: man, machine, and environment.

Man: Are your wingmen fatigued? Have they had enough sleep? Are they focused on the job and not distracted by personal or family issues at home? Are your wingmen trained and proficient in accomplishing assigned tasks? Are they wearing the appropriate personal protective equipment such as work gloves, goggles, hearing protection and hard hats?
Machine: Is the equipment being used properly maintained? Are inspections current? Is the machine in need of repair? Is there a safer or better piece of equipment you could provide for your Airmen?

Environment: Are there unrealistic time constraints? Do your Airmen perceive a time constraint that may cause them to rush, possibly causing a mishap? If so, why do your Airmen feel they need to hurry? Is the environment hot, windy, dusty or cold? If so, are you affording your Airmen appropriate time for relief?

Mitigating steps to eliminate or reduce the hazards exposed after asking these questions are the essence of safety programs. In combat operations, the mission is paramount--with the right amount of risk, accepted at the appropriate level. We owe it to this great nation and each other to be good wingmen, at home and abroad.