In the Air Force, we call them wingmen. In the Army, they're called battle buddies. In the Marines, they're swim buddies. Name aside, the idea is simple and clear: Accompany your wingman in all possibly dangerous or questionable situations. You keep your wingman out of trouble or, in some cases, make sure they don't get in trouble alone.

For the most part, the concept is well understood and regularly executed. There are, however, a few absolutely unacceptable areas of failure when it comes to implementing the concept. Here's a tough pill to stomach: Sexual assault is, unfortunately, all too common throughout the military.

Having a few good wingmen can play an instrumental role in preventing such behavior. And while, ultimately, only the assaulter is responsible for their actions, it's up to you, the wingman, to keep a watchful eye. Implementing these techniques will help make the military a safer culture for everyone.


1. Consent is not optional

It's that simple.

(Photo by sholefet.com)

If you see any kind of behavior that's flirting with the line, don't take (or let anyone take) a chance.

This one's simple enough, and it deserves to be at the top of this list.

2. Establish your team and roles before you go out

Have a plan.

It doesn't matter if it's just the two of you going out or an entire group, build set of rules for everyone to stick by. Know exactly who is responsible for watching who and make sure everyone has at least one person accountable for their safe return. Set up a triple-check system for when someone is breaking away from the group.

As long as everyone sticks with the established rules and takes care of who they are expected to take care of, everyone will get home fine.

3. Know your limits... and your team's limits

Actual footage of the new Sergeant's first weekend off.

It's almost as if they issue you a stronger liver and a standard-issue drinking habit upon swearing in. As a result, many of us tend to carry on as if liquor isn't impairing our judgement and decision-making abilities. Here's a fact: it is.

Knowing what you can actually handle (and what your buddies can handle) is crucial to having an incident-free night. Know your team.

4. Consent. Again.

It is a yes? An undeniable and clear yes? Does it ever become a no? Please understand consent.

Consent should be simple. No means no, and that's that.

While you're out partying and sparks fly with someone, typically, there's some amount of intoxication involved, and that can muddle things up. What might start as a "yes" might morph as the night goes on. It's simple: When you hear a "no" (or anything that isn't explicitly a "yes") stop immediately. Do not slow down and creep on creepin' on. Do not try to guilt or coerce the other party into continuing. Do not do anything other than stopping. Just stop.

Use your words and have a conversation that may (or may not) lead to a sober and completely consensual hook-up down the line. Or better yet, maybe you'll leave the conversation with an understanding of one another. Best of all, you'll come away without inflicting or sustaining any horrifically permanent scars.

To keep it very simple, just remember: No means no.

That's all there is to it. Nobody should stop you from having a good time, but it's up to you to be a good wingman and keep your buddies out of trouble.