AL UDEID AIR BASE, Qatar --
U.S. Air Forces Central Command’s Safety Directorate hosted a Chiefs of Safety Conference Sept. 6-7, 2018, at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar. Among the 41 attendees who shared lessons learned to improve safety, were two Royal Air Force Airmen. This was the first time coalition members were invited to participate in this conference, which is held every six months.
The safety conference builds professional networking opportunities, promotes cross-talk, discusses safety program execution, receives senior leader perspectives and connects chiefs of safety within AFCENT. Some of the major themes were cultural compliance, risk management and reducing hazards over time.
Inviting coalition partners to attend allowed for learning opportunities with different view points on how the RAF handles safety.
The Air Force Chief of Safety, Maj. Gen. John T. Rauch Jr., chaired the conference and expressed the importance of building a professional safety culture and network in order to leverage all resources to keep our Airmen safe.
“I thought it was beneficial,” said Lt. Col. Edmund Harrington, AFCENT deputy director of safety. “If we always look at things the same way then we are never challenged to get better, so having the perspective of a very close coalition partner was very valuable.”
The RAF presented a 30-minute briefing on their experiences in air safety. Squadron Leader Robson, the 83rd Expeditionary Air Group flight safety officer, discussed the reporting culture and striving to create a culture where all those in the RAF feel able to report without the risk of unjustified blame.
The biggest advantage of having a safety conference was the cross-communication and ability to network. Building the face-to-face communication gave clearer insights on issues and granted everyone capability to see the different ways to improve every member’s safety.
“The coalition is focused on the same thing,” said Harrington. “Nobody wants to lose assets or Airmen to preventable mishaps.”
In the future, the intent is to include more coalition in the conference as both RAF officers enjoyed their time at the conference and learned much about safety around joint operating areas.
In addition to the Chiefs of Safety Conference, Senior National Representatives from the coalition nations share their safety concerns with AFCENT leadership and the safety directorate routinely.
AFCENT also hosts a Coalition Flight Safety Meeting every other month to discuss airspace and air traffic hazards. Through these meetings and regularly scheduled meetings at every air expeditionary wing across the Central Command area of responsibility, AFCENT meets the Commander’s 2018 goal to routinely discuss safety with coalition partners across multiple levels of command, which establishes a proactive safety culture among all participants.
“Working on safety together is a great way to ensure Airmen come home,” said Harrington.