From 1030 until 1150 on 12 April 2012, BG William T. Wolf and CSM Rick Stidley, the Commanding General and Command Sergeant Major of the US Army Combat Readiness / Safety Center at FT Rucker, AL spoke to ILE Classes 12-01 and 12-02. BG Wolf also serves as the Director of Army Safety. Throughout the presentation, the command team’s two main goals were clear: to inform Soldiers about safety trends and training tools, and also to influence field grade officers to help shape the mindset of Soldiers across the force to prevent off-duty accidents. BG Wolf and CSM Stidley used slides to organize the brief into five key sections.
BG Wolf opened with an appeal for help from senior leaders. He quickly noted there was not a silver bullet technique to reduce accidents. However, the key was leader involvement and leader relationships at all levels, which would continue to achieve results. Second, BG Wolf framed the presentation from a historical perspective. He explained the safety center originated from an aviation focused background, but today the safety center comprehensively accounts for all accident causes and informs and educates the entire force on prevention. He highlighted that off-duty accidents for recently redeployed Soldiers are not caused solely due to prolonged exposure to a combat theater. Therefore, as his third point of emphasis, BG Wolf stated that while on-duty accicent numbers remain steady or decline, off-duty accidents continue to rise. The current off-duty accident percentage of 21% is slightly less when compared with last year, although six months remain in the fiscal year. BG Wolf used this statistic to reinforce his main message: junior leaders need mentoring and coaching from senior leaders to shape the mindset of Soldiers to further prevent off-duty accidents. He discussed that chapters three and four of The Red Book discuss stresses of the force, which young leaders need to understand. BG Wolf also emphasized that spouses have a role and should be included in education, thereby increasing the prevention of accidents.
Next, CSM Stidley described many of the continuing or growing safety trends throughout the Army. He highlighted many areas including negligent discharges of personally owned weapons, improper use of nutrition supplements, sports injuries and of course improper operation of personally owned vehicles. The use of seatbelts and control of speed remain the two biggest accident causes in vehicles. CSM Stidely stressed that leaders must hold Soldiers accountable, but that accountability must extend to all ranks, not just lower enlisted. Finally, BG Wolf and CSM Stidley explained recent training initiatives to prevent not only off-duty accidents, but on-duty accidents as well. BG Wolf highlighted standardized MRAP home station vehicle training as well as in theater training to increase awareness of improper electrical use through Task Force Safe and Task Force Power initiatives. The command team emphasized the training tools avaiable to units and individual Soldiers alike through the Safety Center webpage and toolkit.
However, with all of the training requirements and resources one issue that was not addressed until the question and answer period was training management. BG Wolf commented on the ability for training managers to track requirements and status through the Digital Training Management System (DTMS). Through the understanding of safety as a critical value especially in today’s Army, field grade leadership will be even more critical in training Soldiers, as well as communicating the necessary mindset to prevent accidents and preserve human resources.
MAJ Ryan Mayfield, ILE Class 12-01, SG 16C