Mobilization training includes SHARP awareness
December 7, 2012
FORT STEWART Ga., -- In 2012, the Army implemented training programs to increase awareness and reduce the number of sexual harassment and assault incidences. First Army Division East incorporated scenario-driven training into mission-specific mobilization training provided to deploying Reserve Component Soldiers to increase realism and relevancy.
"The Army and First Army Division East are committed to eradicating sexual assault and sexual harassment," explained Master Sgt. Bowens, First Army Division East Equal Opportunity Advisor. "Sexual harassment and sexual assault degrade mission readiness by limiting the Army's ability to work effectively as a team. It is extremely important to incorporate this training into mobilization training."
Sgt. Barbara Banghart, 55th Infantry Brigade Combat, experienced this training first hand during a four day - training event at Camp Shelby Joint Forces Training Center, Miss., as part of her unit's deployment training. The 55th IBCT, a Pennsylvania National Guard unit will deploy to Kuwait to perform a security mission.
According to the Department of Defense report on sexual assault in the military for Fiscal Year 2011, released in April 2012, the military experienced a one percent increase in reports from the previous year. Despite the military's zero tolerance policy there has been no marked decrease in sexual assault, said Bowens.
In the scenario-driven training, Banghart, a native of Williamsport, Penn., is harassed by several male Soldiers. Banghart and her chain of command were evaluated on their response to the harassment.
The 55th Brigade Special Troops Battalion first sergeant, 1st Sgt. Frank Jost, recognizes that sexual harassment and assault continue to be a threat for Soldiers in deployed environments. "This will be the most challenging of all deployments. Myself and other leaders will have to keep an eye on Soldiers".
Prior to the scenario training, the 55th IBCT Soldiers received traditional classroom training. "We have different briefs and are told that [sexual harassment] is not welcome", Banghart said. "One of those briefs is Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention (SHARP)."
"The SHARP Program teaches Soldiers how to recognize acts of sexual harassment/assault, informs Soldiers how to report these incidents, and makes them knowledgeable of the resources available to them with an intended goal of increasing reporting and preventing sexual harassment, which is a precursor to sexual assault," explained Bowens.
The Soldiers also received training on the "I A.M. Strong" campaign which educates and instructs all Soldiers to take action at the lowest level by staying alert to threats and unwanted behavior, encouraging Soldiers to report any knowledge of assault or harassment.
Banghart went on to say that the brief reminded her that it is important to report the harassment immediately through her chain of command. Her chain of command then gets the Victim Advocate involved to determine the best course of action. In this case, the victim advocate encouraged her to pursue the direct approach.
Cpt. Latarsha Scott, the188th Infantry Brigade Sexual Assault Response Coordinator (SARC) explained that in this scenario, because the assailants were identified, they need to be informed their actions are unwarranted.
"The victim advocate also did a memorandum for record to document the incident--in case the Soldiers are involved in another claim," said Scott. "Maintaining a zero tolerance on sexual assault and harassment allows the Army to be productive."
Knowing Soldiers understand the importance of and proper procedures to report sexual harassment and assault gives Bowens increased hope that the Army can limit and hopefully prevent future occurrences.
"The more awareness people have of the SHARP program and training, the more confidence they have in the Army's commitment in fighting this crime, the more people are likely to report incidents of sexual harassment and assault," she concluded. "Our ultimate goal is to eradicate sexual harassment and assault."