Stay in 'Condition Red' this summer

ANDREWS AIR FORCE BASE, Md. -- Summertime is once again upon us, and I am hoping your schedule will allow for some outdoor fun and time with your families and friends. It is also a time to think about our OSI men and women serving in theater that are in harm's way every day; our thoughts are always with them. But, no matter where life finds you this summer, I'd like very much for you to stop and take a moment to consider your personal safety and the safety of those around you, including your friends and family.

Let me point out some examples: Consider how many times you've set out on family excursions where you packed entirely too much into the mini-van (including 2.5 kids, the dog, 40 suitcases, and a cooler full of food your kids won't eat anyway) and then set out for family "fun." Sound familiar? While I certainly applaud the extreme bravery displayed in agreeing to take on such a mission...please ask yourself, did you take all the right safety steps? Did you ensure the car was in safe working order including tires, fluid levels, suspension, etc.? Did you stop to consider that taking some simple steps could make the difference between a great vacation and a possible accident or vehicle breakdown?

I also know many of you are very active and enjoy sports like motorcycle riding, water sports, rock climbing, etc. If you are going to engage in these activities, please take the time to update, check, and wear your safety equipment properly. The bottom line is this: equipment can be replaced. You cannot.

I find it interesting that many times, in more dangerous places, we actually see fewer accidents. This may be due to our state of mind and situational awareness. In other words, when we're in dangerous areas or situations, our senses are heightened and we are more focused on survival and taking care of one another. By contrast, when we're on vacation, or enjoying recreational time, we let our guard down and perhaps become more unconcerned.

In law enforcement, we call this Condition White or simply being unaware, unalert, or oblivious to surroundings and possible threats. The opposite of Condition White is Condition Red. In this state, you are "ready to fight" or mentally prepared for an imminent conflict. In other words, you are ready to protect yourself or others from harm.

When you're out this summer, don't let yourself be in Condition White. There are certainly times when you can fully relax - and you should. But, accidents happen when we least expect them. You can prevent most accidents with dedicated vigilance, good planning and solid risk management. Be aware of your surroundings and respond accordingly. You wouldn't go into battle with your Airmen without good planning and attention to detail, so do the same for yourself and your family.

You are the finest men and women that have ever served the Air Force. Susan and I hope you have a wonderful summer and look forward to the safe return of all of our men and women from their deployed locations.