• Published
  • AETC Director of Safety
Words mean things.

The power of language has always intrigued and energized me.
From my first speech class at Lake View High School in San Angelo, Texas, and throughout my personal life and Air Force career, I've embraced the power of language. Indeed, the effective use of language, in the form of words, can have a very positive impact.

History supports this assertion. Thucydides cited influential speeches given by Athenian and Spartan generals to rally troops before battles during the 431-403 B.C. Peloponnesian War. Centuries later, President George H.W. Bush, on Aug. 6, 1990, championed to the world, "This will not stand; this aggression against Kuwait." ... And a war with Iraq, with the liberation of Kuwait, was subsequently executed. Finally, our current chief of staff of the Air Force, Gen. Norton Schwartz, rallied our Air Force with the inspirational proposal, "We are 'all in' and ready to 'double down' in the face of adversity."

Without a doubt, these leaders leveraged language to transmit their visions to followers, and as such, influenced men and women to pursue common goals.

Regarding safety, Torch Magazine exists as a tool to assist leaders amid Air Education and Training Command to transmit their visions on safety, via the power of language, to followers. In the past 15 years since the magazine began in 1994, nearly 2 million words have been carefully assembled to get people to think about mishap prevention related topics. In the July/August 2009 edition for example, AETC commander Gen. Stephen R. Lorenz championed safety in the flying environment and stressed, "If the flight lead did something that was incorrect or dangerous, the wingman is expected to say something about it" -- regardless of rank. In the same issue, Command Chief Master Sgt. Robert Tappana, made a plug for a recurring ground safety issue when he noted that the health and wellness center can provide members with an exercise program that will teach them ways to get fit, while reducing the chance of injury. And last year, AETC vice commander Maj. Gen. Anthony F. Przybyslawski pointed out that "a little risk management would have made a difference in the outcome" of four accidental deaths the command suffered during the 101 Critical Days of Summer.

But you don't need your own magazine to advocate safety. In fact, and regardless of venue, when you speak to others about safety, you save lives. As such, leverage your safety language so as to generate powerful influences just like Athenian and Spartan generals did when preparing for battle. Champion mishap prevention just as a commander-in-chief would rally a nation for war. Thunder your mishap message forward with the same level of charisma, enthusiasm and leadership set forth by our own AETC leadership team.

To be sure, words mean things. ... And without a doubt, your friends and followers are listening.