Trust in the relationship between civilians and active duty

  • Published
  • By Regan Tingey
  • 309th Commodities Maintenance Group Deputy Director
"On belay?"

"Belay on!"


"Rappel on!"

If you recognize this important verbal exchange of information it's possible you've taken advantage of the beauty and wonders of Utah's slot canyons.

Canyoneering is a recreational activity growing in popularity in our region of the United States. It puts the skills, determination and physical preparedness of participants up against challenging geological formations, commonly found in slot canyons, where the only way to explore the full length of the canyon is the use of rappelling techniques.

Rappelling involves the use of ropes and equipment to descend obstacles such as rock formations and cliffs that could not otherwise be traversed.

Belaying is a technique that provides backup safety for the individual who's rappelling. It involves a second person who becomes integrated into the ropes and safety equipment so in case of an emergency, such as a fall, the belayer can take control of the descent; slowing or stopping the rappeller.

The verbal exchange between the rappeller and the belayer may be translated as:

Rappeller: "I'm ready to do my job, do you have my back?"

(On belay?)

Belayer: "Yes, I know you're depending on me and I'm ready to do my part."

(Belay on!)

Rappeller: "OK, I trust you and am now putting my life in your hands."


Belayer: "Confirmed, press on."

(Rappel on!)

Many of life's relationships are analogous to the trust demonstrated by the rappeller and belayer; families, co-workers, and wingmen are a few. Last week we celebrated the anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. That's when my thoughts turned to the relationship of trust that exists between the civilian workforce and the uniformed members of the United States Air Force.

Civilians are in the business of providing the military with necessary tools to accomplish their mission. We, the program managers, equipment specialists, item managers, engineers, contracting officers, maintainers, safety and quality specialists, personnelists, supply chain managers. etc., are integral to the success of the war-fighter. We are their belayers ¬­-- to a large degree they depend on us for their safety and well-being. They must have the trust that we've done our job with as much exactness and determination as is required of them.

Applying the rappelling analogy to the Ogden Air Logistics Center population, may I suggest the following dialogue represents the relationship of trust that must exist between us:

War-fighter: "I'm ready, willing, and able to defend your freedom. Have you done everything within your power to help me be successful?"

Civilian workforce: "Yes. Your aircraft, vehicles, and equipment have been sustained by the world's best logisticians. We have carefully managed the life of your weapon systems. We have procured the best parts, on time, and in the right quantities. And, we have maintained these assets to demanding specifications and in strict compliance with governing regulations. All this has been done with you in mind and we are confident you will not be disappointed."

War-fighter: "OK, I trust you and am now putting my life in your hands."

Civilian workforce: "God speed and thank you for all you do."

Words do not adequately express the gratitude of a liberty loving nation for all the men, women, and families of the armed forces who continually sacrifice to preserve our freedom. So, I'll simply close by saying: thank you very much.