WIESBADEN, Germany - Soldiers and civilians took time out of a busy holiday season to "stand strong for the Army profession" Dec. 12.
Leaders of the 5th Signal Command, Col. Mitchell L. Kilgo and Command Sgt. Maj. Gerald Tyce, were joined by Maj. Gen. Richard C. Longo, U.S. Army Europe deputy commander, in discussing what it means to serve, Army Values and the responsibility of everyone to work to prevent sexual harassment and assault during the command's Operation Solemn Promise commemoration ceremony.
"This is the third year of having Operation Solemn Promise," 5th Signal's senior noncommissioned officer told the hundreds of men and women present and many more watching via video teleconference. Describing how during the height of deployments some standards fell by the wayside, Tyce said Operation Solemn Promise began as a way to encourage Soldiers and civilians working for the Army to recommit themselves to Army Values.
"We are privileged to serve in the most respected profession on Earth -- the profession of arms," the 30-year veteran said, adding that competency, impeccable character and a commitment to excellence are vital ingredients of that service. "For Operation Solemn Promise to continue it will depend on the commitment of every leader."
With this year's focus on SHARP (Sexual Harassment and Response Prevention) efforts, Tyce said, "Sexual harassments and assaults are not consistent with good order in the Army. … We cannot allow any kind of poison like sexual harassments and assaults. … We must stand together."
When Soldiers vow to "never leave a fallen comrade behind," they must also look out for fellow comrades, wherever one may be, said Kilgo, saying that seeing someone inebriated and a potential victim of sexual assault is also a time when people must take a stand. "We need to be able to look to our left and right with confidence. … We can never hit pause or take a break. … Bystander intervention is not optional. We don't have a choice; it's our duty."
Part of Operation Solemn Promise's initiative to rebuild trust is identifying and eliminating sexual harassment and assault perpetrators, Kilgo said. "If we focus on standing strong as a team … then predators will cease to exist in our ranks."
USAREUR's deputy commander underscored his pride in his profession and asked all those present to do all they can to help stamp out sexual harassment and assault. "I suggest that even a Soldier or civilian who is drunk in a bar is just as worthy of not being left behind as a wounded Soldier on the battlefield," Longo said.
During the event 5th Signal Command's commander enlisted several young new recruits, and the audience joined in reciting a vow to do all they can to stand strong in the SHARP effort. (Sgt. Marshall R. Mason contributed to this report)