Every Airman a sensor

RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany -- I would like to have a few moments of your time to tell you something of great concern to me. I have had the privilege of serving in the Air Force for 35 years and there is nothing more important to me as your commander than your safety and your welfare.

I recently began visiting your wings and many have heard me say that every Airman is a sensor. Let me explain what I mean by this and what I'm asking you to do.

By now most of you have seen news reports about sexual assaults and suicides in our Air Force. In my heart I know you agree with me that these incidents are tragic and often preventable. This is where YOU enter the picture.

"Every Airman a Sensor" is focused on empowering you to act when you suspect a fellow Airman may fall prey to a sexual predator or when you see signs of suicide. It signals a fundamental shift towards a more proactive posture. Essentially, I want you to take the offensive and help attack two of our most troublesome problems.

Our Air Force has changed drastically since its creation, and I've witnessed our force adapt to countless challenges since I took the oath in 1977. However, one thing remains the same--an Airman's uncompromising bond to fellow service members is rock solid, whether on the battlefield, in the shop, or in the squadron. Now more than ever, there is nothing more important than being there for friends, coworkers and family members who need help. YOU are the key.

I'm asking the entire USAFE-AFAFRICA team to step up, step in and be part of the solution. Granted, telling a sexual predator to back off or helping someone who is distressed may make you feel uncomfortable. But that is what I am empowering you to do. Be a sensor, trust your instincts and take action!

I'm counting on you to go on the offensive. If we play defense against suicides and sexual assaults we are going to lose. There is no place in our Air Force for these tragedies. Do what Airmen do - fight and win.