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Equal opportunity in the deployed environment

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Tomsanna Farley
  • 451st AEW equal opportunity director
The Air Force ops tempo remains at an all time high. Personnel are constantly on the move to deployed locations around the globe. We must recognize that even though we are not at our "home" station we are still responsible for our conduct 24/7/365. The Equal Opportunity policies at your home station also apply at Kandahar and surrounding forward operating bases. We all have a responsibility to adhere to the EO policy of "Zero Tolerance" on issues of unlawful discrimination and sexual harassment.

We've all heard the popular saying "What goes TDY stays TDY!" Well that could not be further from the truth. This clichéd mindset must be eliminated. That is far from our Air Force expectations. A TDY or deployment does not mean you must tolerate unacceptable behavior. In fact, you are held to an even higher standard to ensure people stay focused on the war fighting mission. We must remain good representatives of our home unit/organizations. Issues of unlawful discrimination and sexual harassment can destroy our ability to remain alert and keep our head in the game. The goal is to keep us all 100 percent mission focused. If you're not, something is wrong.

We all have responsibilities for ensuring a harassment free environment. As individuals we should know and abide by the zero tolerance policy. We must also speak out when issues occur, and always be a good Wingman. As Supervisors, Chiefs and Commanders, we need to keep open lines of communication, encourage individuals to report Uniform Code of Military Justice violations, (to include harassment, Yes, it is a UCMJ violation) and look into reported allegations. Another important responsibility is to support and enforce equal opportunity and treatment policies. Always be responsive to the mission and sensitive to the people's concerns.

It is sad when members refrain from addressing inappropriate deployed issues until they return home. These members somehow believe equal opportunity policies do not apply in deployed environments. Some deployed trends experienced are graffiti, racial/sexual slurs, inappropriate language, and sexual harassment. I hear time and time again "well it's the Army or another sister service, and that's just how they ROLL." Wrong answer, Department of Defense EO policies apply us all!

I challenge you to remain vigilant and consistent with policy enforcement, immediately report violations, and act upon the allegations expeditiously. I constantly hear "well it's ok, if no one is offended, right!" Wrong again! We know when we're not acting professional. It's that little voice that says "hey, look over your shoulder before you say that to see who's around to hear." If you can't do it or say it in front of your commander, spouse, or child, then it's most likely inappropriate and against polices! Don't wait until you redeploy to report an EO violation. Chances are if something is happening to you, it is happening to others as well.

Remember EO is a command based function of fairness, equality, and justice whether at home station or deployed.