188th Infantry Brigade stands down to focus on safety
September 8, 2011
FORT STEWART, Ga. -- The 188th Infantry Brigade took a break from their usual mission of training and mentoring mobilizing Reserve and National Guard units to focus on safety during a safety stand down at the Sgt. 1st Class Paul R. Smith Army Education Center Aug. 30.
During the U.S. Forces Command-directed stand down, Soldiers received briefings on topics that are currently of concern for the Army as a whole, said Sgt. 1st Class Edward Dowdell, the safety noncommissioned officer-in-charge for the 188th Infantry Brigade.
"The Army is losing too many Soldiers unnecessarily," said Dowdell. "As a brigade, we are heavily engaged in the fight against vehicular accidents and suicide. We want to make sure that our Soldiers are armed with the knowledge and all of the tools available to them to avoid becoming a casualty of either of these."
Leading from the front, Col. Kevin C. Colyer, 188th Infantry Brigade commander, briefed the troops on the FORSCOM Soldier Risk Tool, which leaders must use to identify those Soldiers whose life conditions, off-duty activities, or duty performance indicate the Soldier is engaged in or exhibiting high risk behavior.
"The same principles that lead to success on the battlefield lead to success in safety," Colyer said. "Success requires understanding yourself, understanding your enemy, recognizing when conditions change and updating actions on the objective in accordance with the changing conditions."
Colyer also said that the standards of conduct expressed in the Warrior Ethos are applicable to safety.
"Warriors are members of a team, and just like in combat, safety is a team sport. Never leaving a fallen comrade means more than just not leaving a wounded warrior on the battlefield. It means that however a comrade falls -- be it physically, mentally, emotionally, psychologically or spiritually -- other members of the team are there to pick that warrior up," he said.
One area of particular interest to the brigade is motorcycle safety, Dowdell said.
"We have had three motorcycle accidents this year, so we're taking every precaution to prevent another one," he added.
Sgt. 1st Class Kimberlyn Johnson-Gibson, the brigade motorcycle mentor, briefed the Soldiers on the Army's expectations for leaders when it comes to motorcycle safety.
"Leaders must make sure that their Soldiers are not doing what I call 'riding dirty.' Riding dirty means riding without having the proper experience, license, registration, insurance," she said.
To illustrate how important motorcycle safety is, Johnson-Gibson asked all of the motorcycle riders in the audience to stand up. Eighteen did so. She then asked everyone who knows someone personally who was killed in a motorcycle accident to stand. Eighteen did so.
"Imagine the impact if we lost 18 people from our ranks," she said. "To avoid this, we must take safety seriously."
The 188th Infantry Brigade, along with the other training support brigades in First Army Division East, provides and facilitates theater-focused training for deploying National Guard and Reserve units and assists with redeployment and demobilizing following deployment. Based out of Fort Stewart, the 188th "Battle Ready" Brigade has been training Reserve Component units for deployments continuously since 2003.