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AFSOC commander issues safety message to Air Commandos

  • Published
  • By Lt. Gen. Brad Heithold
  • Commander of Air Force Special Operations Command

Air Commandos,

Air Force Special Operations Command has an inherently dangerous mission. What we do and where we do it, without question, involves a high degree of risk and our success depends on our ability to mitigate those risks. We’ve suffered losses that were preventable, and the way we prevent those losses is through compliance with established guidance. All of us know what right looks like and we know where the line is between safe and unsafe. We must hold ourselves accountable to the standards and accomplish our mission with safety constantly in mind.

About a year ago, we mapped out priorities to achieve success: provide combat ready forces, create an environment for Airmen and families to thrive, transform training to optimize human performance, and modernize and sustain the force.

You immediately set to work, pushed the limits and expanded our boundaries to not only execute the mission today but also pave the way for AFSOC to become an even more lethal combat ready force. However, if we are to remain a combat ready force, the safety and well-being of our people must be in the forefront of our actions in all things. We train like we fight so we can be the best at what we do, and you’re providing exactly what combatant commanders expect from AFSOC. Keep it up!

You’ve shown me talent and determination that is truly synonymous with being Quiet Professionals. Creating an environment for Airmen and families to thrive demands we work and train with one eye always fixed on anticipating and reducing risk whenever possible. We owe it to ourselves, our family, friends, and the American people to remain diligent in safeguarding our lives and the lives of our fellow Airmen.

I’ve challenged you to transform how we train to optimize performance, but in our efforts to effect change and innovate, we should also look to improve upon or even develop new procedures to further protect ourselves in the training environment. We will always train the way we fight, so deliberate, safety-minded training at home station will translate to our ultimate safety and success on the battlefield.

The enemy is ever-evolving and new threats present themselves every day, which is why modernizing and sustaining our force is so vital. We will stay a step ahead of our enemies, but we will not forget the importance of safety as we do business. That’s how we will sustain our force – by being the best at what we do, with the best technology, equipment and training available, and delivering violence to our customer (the enemy), while safeguarding our most precious resource – our people.

Let’s be clear - we will continue to provide precise, lethal, combat capability on the battlefield. We will continue to exceed the expectations of combatant commanders. We will continue to push the boundaries and train like we fight, but we will do so by complying with the guidance set out for us, mitigating risk, holding each other accountable, and ensuring safety remains at the forefront of all we do. Thank you for all your hard work. I’m proud to serve beside you.