Patriots Stay 'SHARP'
May 28, 2013
JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. -- In line with the Armywide mandated Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention standown this past week, the 174th Infantry Brigade Commander, Col. Craig A. Osborne, voiced his zero-tolerance policy.
"I don't want that kind of person in the brigade, in the Army, or in the uniform at all. It denigrates the uniform I've worn for 27 years," said Osborne, referencing perpetrators during a brigade staff SHARP stand down at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., recently. "If it's found that this is happening in the brigade, I promise you, I will turn over every rock and prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law."
This message has been consistent from the brigade's top leader.
"Colonel Osborne is always on point with this topic," said Sgt. 1st Class Debra Owens, 174th Infantry Brigade Sexual Assault Response Coordinator (SARC)/SHARP representative. "Like our brigade motto -- Patriots on Point! -- he drives the message home every time."
According to Army doctrinal SHARP training materials, leaders who frequently talk about the importance of the program and establish a positive command climate have far fewer incidents of sexual harassment and assault than units with leaders who don't openly express where they stand.
The 90-minute training session was discussion-heavy and garnered frequent participation from the soldiers present. The commander covered relevant refresher material about the SHARP program, and did so while encouraging open dialogue about specific applicability and current events in the Army.
"We always push to conduct training in a way that gets everyone to think and interact with the material," said Owens. "We lead discussions, use skits, and employ more than just PowerPoint to make sure the information is received and understood."
Part of the training discussion included having soldiers dissect the "I.A.M." portion of the Army Strong SHARP campaign -- which stands for Intervene, Act and Motivate.
"To act means being willing to step in and take action once you realize you have a potential situation," shared Sgt.1st Class Claudine Henry, 174th Infantry Brigade security manager. "If you see someone make an inappropriate comment or starting to go down a path they shouldn't go down, you have to pull them aside and have that conversation with them. Same goes if there's a situation where you see a potential victim. You have to keep your eyes open, stay aware of your surroundings, and actually do something to make sure you take care of your peers."
SHARP training emphasizes the fact that combating sexual harassment and assault has to begin at the first warning signs of impropriety -- sexual innuendo. If not, the problem has the potential to escalate to sexual harassment, sexual assault or even homicide.
"One-third of sexual assaults start with sexual harassment," said Osborne. "On average, the offender has assaulted 10 people before they're actually caught. If we don't intervene and step in when we see something, in my opinion, we are guilty of not preventing future attacks. Taking action early can save the lives of potential future victims."
The vision of the Army's I.A.M. Strong Campaign is to eliminate sexual harassment and assault by creating a culture where soldiers believe that failure to prevent sexual harassment and assault is incompatible with Army values and the Warrior Ethos.
For more information on the SHARP program, go to www.sexualassault.army.mil.