Be a wingman, not a wall -- report violations

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Brad McAlpine
  • 335th Training Squadron commander
Being the commander of a technical training squadron for the last 18 months has truly been a whirlwind. I have seen so many of the good things our Airmen do on a daily basis and seen that the wingman concept is critical to what we do each and every day! Unfortunately, many of our youngest Airmen have misinterpreted the wingman concept. Being a wingman is about taking care of each other, watching out for the warning signs of stress and taking the appropriate action to ensure fellow Airmen get the help they need. It is not meant to create a wall of protection for those who decide to commit crimes such as sexual assault, underage drinking or breaking regulations.

The wingman concept is out there to help us take care of each other and ensure each of us is able to fulfill the mission of the United States Air Force on a daily basis. At times, this means encouraging an Airman to talk with a Chaplain, members of the sexual assault prevention and response office or mental health personnel. Other times, it is just sitting down and talking with that Airman, getting to know them as a person, understanding where their stressors are and offering a helping hand. Each Airman is unique and first-line supervisors, commanders and senior leaders need to take the time to get to know their people.

The wingman concept is not about shielding those in your unit, your circle of friends or your roommate in the dorms when they violate laws, rules or regulations. When an Airman commits a crime or breaks a rule or regulation, his or her transgression needs to be reported. Failing to report such breaches may seem like you are being a good wingman to the Airman, but you are failing to protect those wingmen who rely on you the most, those who follow the rules and laws each and every day. Those who put up the wingman wall are doing a disservice to each of us and each of us needs to understand that you are not being a "snitch" or a "rat," you are being a wingman to the rest of us.

I ask that each of you stand up to the pressure of not reporting violations in cases, ranging from the most benign to the most serious. Only by each of us doing our part, can we truly be great wingmen, remove crimes against each other, like sexual assault, and make our Air Force the truly great organization that we can be! Go out and be a good wingman and do not fall into the trap of being a wall.