CONTINGENCY OPERATING SITE MAREZ, Iraq- Sgt. 1st Class Joseph Thomas (left), instructs Sgt. Tara Davis, of Savannah, Ga., how to clear a squad automatic weapon during the unit's safety stand down day, Dec. 23. Weapon safety and awareness is also taught to Iraqi Army counterparts so they can keep themselves and others around them safe, explained Thomas, from Lexington, Ky.

CONTINGENCY OPERATING SITE MAREZ, Iraq-After the first few months of being deployed, statistics show Soldiers can get comfortable with their surroundings and choose shortcuts that can put themselves or others in harm's way.

Soldiers of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 4th Advise and Assist Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, gathered together for a safety stand down, here, Dec 23.

The unit has passed the mark during the deployment where Soldiers can slip into a mode of complacency, expressed Maj. Vincent Thomas, the HHC commander.

The unit held classes consisting of suicide prevention, vehicle safety, fire prevention, burn barrel operations and weapon safety awareness. Soldiers rotated through each station learning the importance of safety and being aware of their surroundings while deployed.

"The biggest thing is familiarization with some of the hazards that have gotten Soldiers hurt in the past and ways they can avoid those same mistakes to prevent injury and accomplish the mission," said Mr. Sean Morrill, safety officer assigned to 4th AAB, 1st Cav. Div.

During weapons safety and awareness training, the focus was ensuring Soldiers treat every weapon as if it were loaded. During Operation New Dawn Soldiers are advising, training and assisting their Iraqi counterparts and that includes emphasizing weapons safety with them as well.

"We always have to keep in mind weapon safety and muzzle awareness," said Sgt. 1st Class Joseph Thomas, provost marshal non-commissioned officer in charge for 4th AAB, 1st Cav. Div., and Lexington, Ky. native. "It's important for our Soldiers, while they are training Iraqi soldiers that they are emphasizing weapon safety as well so they don't hurt themselves or anyone around them"

The classes were important for everyone, especially for Soldiers who aren't familiar with the equipment not used as a part of their everyday mission.

"This was my first time working with a SAW (squad automatic weapon), learning how to clear it and how it works," said Sgt. Tara Davis, personnel actions non-commissioned officer for 4th AAB, 1st Cav. Div., and native of Savannah, Ga. "It's important for me to know this so that I can pass the knowledge I've learned today to Soldiers assigned in the future."

The Long Knife Brigade continues to support the efforts of U.S. Division-North to conduct the advise, train and assist mission during Operation New Dawn and to do it safely.

Page last updated Thu December 30th, 2010 at 06:08