• Published
  • By Col. Creig A. Rice
  • AETC director of safety
In the 1990s, the Scorpions released a song called "Wind of Change" that captured some of the political changes in Eastern Europe at the end of the Cold War. Just like changes creating the "new world order" in the 90s, our Air Force and Air Education and Training Command are undergoing changes because of resource constraints.

One step we are taking to reduce costs is to move Torch magazine from a bi-monthly issue to quarterly, with spring, summer, winter and fall issues. We will continue our Web page, and you will see the popular 2012 Torch Calendar in October. But reducing the number of magazines we produce each year is not only fiscally smart in these times of belt-tightening, but it also makes way for more emphasis on another rapidly growing form of communication ... social media.

We've already launched our own Facebook page, posted videos on YouTube and had thousands of visitors in search of high-quality photographs on our newly established Flickr page. Our goal is to provide a variety of ways to share safety information and imagery and connect with others to increase mishap prevention efforts.

Why do we do all of this? Because marketing mishap prevention is one of the main ways we can reduce mishaps. Until a year ago it was nearly inconceivable that AETC, with nearly 71,000 active-duty, Reserve, Guard, civilian and contractor team members, as well as more than 340,000 students per year, could survive a summer fatality free. Why? ... Because it had never happened before. Now we've created a new reality after last year's first-ever fatality-free summer for the command.

Strong leadership, individual responsibility and alert wingmen have definitely had a positive impact on our safety culture; thank all of you for that. But before we go patting ourselves on the back too hard, we must recognize that even though we have done remarkably well during our summer campaigns the past few years, we still lost nine Airmen in AETC in FY 2011, including two during the last weekend of the critical days of summer.

Out of the nine deaths we suffered earlier this year, eight could have been prevented by the Air Force member, which shows that we still have work to do. This is especially true while off duty, with regard to risk management and mishap prevention.

As we come out of the critical days of summer and enter a new fiscal year, we hit the "changing times" of our new resource constrained reality. With all of the talk about RIF (reduction in force) and SERB (selective early retirement board) actions, civilian hiring controls, efficiency drills, etc., being a good wingman and checking each other's 6 o'clock will be even more important. Change normally brings stress, and some in our work force will be concerned about their jobs, some will be figuring out how to do "more with less" ... all of us will be impacted by our changing resource environment.

Please take some time to think and talk about these changes, to talk with your leaders, peers and subordinates. ... The "winds of change" are upon us.