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The most important military resource

PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- I want to take a minute and discuss the importance of my most precious military resource, you. It is no secret that the profession of arms, our chosen profession, is a dangerous one. Thankfully, your professionalism and devotion mitigates many of the inherent risks.

As professional warriors working as part of our team, we strictly adhere to checklists, technical data, and flight briefings. We hold our peers, our leaders, our subordinates, and most importantly, ourselves to the highest of standards.

No sacrifice is too great to complete the mission. No process is too tedious to ensure success. We strive for perfection and we never settle for anything less than excellence.
Now we need to use this same approach and apply it to our own personal safety when we leave the installation. Remember, integrity means doing the right thing even when no one else is watching.

Many of you are probably thinking, "Hasn't drinking and driving, using seat belts, the dangers of driving while fatigued, and not speeding been preached enough?" And my answer is simple. No!

Airmen and DOD civilians alike continue to drink and drive, refuse to wear seat belts, and push themselves to drive too far, too fast. Meanwhile, commanders like me continue to lose our most valuable assets and the things that we can never replace - our people. So far this fiscal year the Air Force has already tragically lost 24 of our people - that's 24 daughters and sons, sisters and brothers, spouses and sweethearts. Twenty-four Airmen.

And just when we think we are doing well and operating safely here, a mishap occurs - sometimes fatal - that jars us back, physically and emotionally, and reinforces the need for safety compliance.

Let's not wait for an accident to occur before we reevaluate the decisions we are making. We must open our eyes to the self-imposed and unnecessary risks we are all taking and correct them. We can't become complacent, not in our duties nor in our personal lives. Don't let this be your final safety briefing. Take responsibility and make the corrective actions.

Every member of our Shark family is a crucial piece of our nation's defense. Losing any one of you affects the whole team, and it is your service and sacrifice that ensures America's freedom. Trust me, we can't afford to lose you!

Thanks again for all you do.