Don’t be afraid to ‘knock it off’

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Andre Briere
  • 18th Wing Public Affairs
Every mission is urgent and important in today's leaner Air Force. Whether you are generating aircraft on the flight line or processing CAC cards at the FSS, normal day-to-day operations can sometimes seem overwhelming. But you routinely press forward, complete the mission, and prepare for another day. 

From your first day in uniform, you are trained to work hard and to get the mission done smartly and safely. But when you see a potentially dangerous situation developing at your workplace, what do you do? 

Air Force pilots and aircrew members know that when they see an unsafe situation developing in the air, they should call "knock it off" or "time out". When something goes wrong in simulated air combat, fighter pilots call "knock it off" to separate all the parties and make the situation safe before reengaging. 

In heavy aircraft with multiple crew positions, any aircrew member can call "time out" if they identify a hazardous situation or if they don't think their opinion has been considered by the aircraft commander during an in-flight emergency. Both of these concepts force everyone to take a deep breath, make the situation safe, upchannel concerns, and resume the mission when problems are corrected. 

Sometimes after calling KIO, the mission has to stop. After analyzing a given situation, there are times when we realize that the hazard is significant enough that the mission must be terminated. In these cases, alternate means of accomplishing your personal or unit goals should be investigated and developed for the future. 

Aircrew members understand that failure to call KIO when warranted could prove detrimental to the crew and the mission. I encourage you to apply this same common sense approach to your workplace. No matter what AFSC you are in or what task you're faced with, when an unaddressed hazard is encountered or unsafe acts are taking place, Airman at all levels must understand and embrace the concept of calling "knock it off" or "time out". 

Remember the four principles of Operational Risk Management when using KIO or TO: accept no unnecessary risk; make risk decisions at the appropriate level; accept the risk when the benefits outweigh the costs, and; integrate ORM into operations and planning at all levels. Mission accomplishment is extremely important, but failure to point out and remedy hazardous conditions can result in damage to equipment, lost duty days, and loss of our most precious resource, our Airmen. This is unacceptable. 

Some of you may feel like you lack enough experience or technical knowledge to call KIO. Don't believe it. Safety is everyone's responsibility, and it is up to our Team Kadena commanders to empower their squadron members to call KIO or TO when appropriate. 

We must not falter in our efforts to reduce unnecessary mishaps, and we have to resist the temptation to work around unsafe conditions with shortcuts or a "we've always done it this way" mentality. Use KIO and TO, follow your technical orders, and up-channel risk decisions to the appropriate level. For many years, "knock it off" and "time out" have worked successfully for our flyers. We must infuse this concept into all Team Kadena Airman! 

We should all be working to accomplish the mission aggressively, safely and smartly. This means knowing how to do your job and knowing when the risk outweighs the benefit. So speak up, speak loudly, be heard, and call "knock it off" or "time out" before an unaddressed hazard becomes a mishap.