First shirts morale visits, reminders

INCIRLIK AIR BASE, Turkey -- A couple of weeks ago, our first sergeants decided to do late night "morale" visits around the base, which included the dorms, the club and the area near the front gate (during the curfew hour).

The purpose was not to search for alcohol-related incidents or rain on anyone's parade. The shirts wanted to visit our Airmen in their Friday night environment and thank them for "doing the right things" such as being good wingmen, taking care of each other and making responsible choices. Our shirts wanted to let our Airmen know how much they are valued and how important they are to our mission.

The shirts and I discussed the importance of getting out and providing leadership by being visible and involved. We also discussed the communication challenges associated with short tour locations. Incirlik is no exception. Just when we think we can declare victory on a particular issue because we have briefed, informed and educated everyone, we quickly realize that more than 25 percent of the base population is new and may not be as informed as we thought. I will list a few things that come to mind that require repetitive reminders as was evident when the first sergeants conducted their visits:

-- Parking in the Alley (Ataturk Boulevard) - Don't do it. Not only is it illegal according to the Turkish National Police, but violators will be cited, and it also directly violates our Installation Force Protection Directives.

-- Open containers (alcohol) - Don't do it. It is illegal on base and unacceptable and inappropriate off base. Bottom-line; we are guests in Turkey so respect our hosts' customs and avoid open containers at all times. Remember we are America's ambassadors.

-- Avoid wearing civilian clothing off base that screams "I am an American," examples range from the Air Force PT jacket to your favorite flashy NFL team apparel. Try to blend in - it's all about smart force protection as stated in our Force Protection Directives.

-- We highly encourage wingmen for all off base travels - it just makes sense.
-- Respect your neighbors and honor the quiet hour rules; we all share dwellings.
-- Reflective belts are mandatory while in uniform during the hours of darkness.

I thank our first sergeants for what they do and I ask all of you to continue to be safe, make the responsible choices, and look out for each other.