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Wing leaders will not tolerate unprofessional drinking habits

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SEYMOUR JOHNSON AIR FORCE BASE, N.C. -- Fourth Fighter Wing leaders are unveiling an aggressive campaign to curtail the impact that alcohol has on the wing's readiness. 

The campaign involves a renewed emphasis on pre-drink planning, building exposure for a Goldsboro-vicinity all-hours taxi service and fundamental changes to the Airmen Against Drunk Driving program. 

The primary objective of the campaign is to focus on pre-drink planning. 

"From now on, I expect every Airman that goes out for a drink to have a designated driver," said Col. Steve Kwast, 4th Fighter Wing commander. 

The commander explained that if an Airman's designated-driver plan falls apart, then that Airman would be expected to arrange safe and sober transportation. 

In addition to calling friends or co-workers for a safe ride home, members of Team Seymour can now use a new, around-the-clock taxi service. By calling Goldsboro's City Cab, Airmen can arrange for taxi service with base access. Wait times for pick-up should not exceed 15 minutes. A lack of cash on hand is no excuse for using a taxi since City Cab drivers will transport passengers with military IDs in exchange for next-day payment. Next-day payments must be processed through the servicemember's first sergeant. 

Airmen can also make a responsible choice before they take their first sip by using City Cab's scheduling service. A driver will meet an Airman at a pre-designated location. 

Another campaign objective is to modify the AADD program so it is used as a last resort and not as a free taxi service. 

"Airmen Against Drunk Driving was always intended to be a safety net - a number to call if your plan failed," said Chief Master Sgt. Layton Clark, the wing's command chief master sergeant. "However, we found AADD was the plan and took the place of a designated driver or a cab service. When used like this it was certainly overused and abused." 

There have been weekends when more than 100 passengers were picked-up through the AADD program. There have also been instances where passengers are so intoxicated that they got sick in the volunteers' vehicle. Also, some Airmen try to use AADD as a taxi service between different bars or parties instead of as a safe, sober ride home. 

"In other words, our voluntary drivers and our program were being used and abused instead of responsible planning," said the command chief. 

The AADD program will no longer be an anonymous service staffed by wing-level volunteers. Units will operate their own pick-up service for their intoxicated personnel. An Airman's first use of the unit's pick-up service will be considered a complimentary service to reward a responsible choice, but Airmen who repeatedly abuse the program as a planned first option may receive counseling and intervention. 

The new emphasis of the AADD program allows supervisors and unit commanders to acquire insight into the drinking habits of their troops. 

"We need to mentor our people on how to plan and to intervene when they have problem like excessive drinking. We don't need to enable that behavior," said the command chief.
Chief Clark also said many supervisors are often caught off guard when one of their Airman gets in trouble for irresponsible decision making due to alcohol consumption. 

"They always say their troop is a good worker," said Chief Clark. "You know what I think? I think they are an unknown liability to our ground, weapon and flight safety. How can we trust an irresponsible drinker to rig flight controls on a Strike Eagle? How can we trust them to vector or fly aircraft. We can't." 

It is essential that Airmen are able to trust their fellow Airmen so that irresponsible decision making does not adversely affect the readiness and morale of the wing. The focus needs to remain on putting warheads on terrorist foreheads, said Chief Clark. 

A wingman culture that does not tolerate lapses in core values, provides accountability of one Airman to another, and delivers help to those who need it is what wing leadership is seeking. 

"A liability like a substance abuser and irresponsible Airmen can help the terrorists and insurgents we are fighting now kill Americans without firing a shot or detonating an IED," said Chief Clark. "Let's save some fight for the enemy." 

Colonel Kwast had strong words for Airmen who continue to make unprofessional decisions when using alcohol. 

"You are not consistent with the warfighting spirit we need in this nation to win the war on terror," he said.

Editor's note: Safety first. Until further notice, Airmen will still call 722-3333 if they cannot secure another method of safe and sober transportation.
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