USAG Yongsan -- During a senior leader breakfast, prior to the Training and Leader Development Brief, colonels, lieutenant colonels, and sergeants major from 1st Signal Brigade broke their fast with the Eighth Army commander and listened to his counsel at Honors Café dining facility on Jan. 30, 2014.
Just as Secretary of the Army John McHugh made preventing sexual assault his number one priority for fiscal year 2014, Lt. Gen. Bernard S. Champoux, commanding general, Eighth Army, challenged the group by asking what they are doing to prevent sexual assaults.
He told the group, that as the Eighth Army commander I can give you resources. One of those resources is time. I give you 90 minutes a day to conduct Physical Readiness Training in a meaningful way that allows you to build and develop junior leaders and allows senior leaders to lead by example.
"Your company commanders and first sergeants need to have a passion to bring high standards, self-discipline, discipline and fitness, and they have a responsibility to stop sexual assault," said Champoux.
Command Sgt. Maj. Darris Curry, 1st Signal Brigade command sergeant major, said that Champoux had made the comment that prior to being Soldiers, many individuals had a different set of standards and different ideas of what behavior was okay where they are from, but is not okay in the military.
"This is a profession of arms, and changing that culture, changing that mindset is something we have to tackle," said Curry. "If you don't get it that (sexual harassment and sexual assault) is wrong, absolutely wrong and when you see it you have to stop it, then we're never going to get there. We have got to change that culture, but we are getting after it sir. It's hard, it's not easy. If it was easy, it would already be done, but we are definitely tackling it."
Champoux said that the Army has a culture that attracts people of values and self-discipline and that there is an indoctrination of higher standards.
"There is a higher standard here and it requires a commitment. It requires my commitment," said Champoux.
During the 1st Signal Brigade's TLDB, Col. Paul H. Fredenburgh III, commander, 1st Signal Brigade, other leaders from the brigade and its subordinate battalions and separate directorates provided operational updates for Champoux and Maj. Gen. Walter M. Golden Jr., deputy commanding general for operations, Eighth Army.
Champoux and Golden were then given a brief tour of the Brigade Operations Center, the 24-hour, 365 day-a-year, central nervous system of military communications in the Republic of Korea.
Following the BOC tour, Champoux recognized some signal Soldiers for their achievements before sitting down with Golden, Fredenburgh and Curry for a lunch with company commanders and 1st sergeants from the brigade. Here he asked again what they were doing to stop sexual assault.
Capt. Scott D. McKinney, commander, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Signal Brigade, said that it is a really important issue for his company just as it is for the Army.
"Some of the things we are doing are leader engagements, specifically during safety briefs and during battlefield circulation, where we focus on the high risk Soldiers," said McKinney. "People that we think would either be a possible victim or perpetrator we talk to about what they can do to protect themselves and stay out of trouble."
"We also try to make it as real as possible. If an incident has happened within the brigade, we use the incident as an example that they can relate to. It didn't happen to an infantryman, this was a signal Soldier and this is what happened."
McKinney said they also talk about buddy teams, where he feels that they are truly successful.
"If you see a Soldier about to do something wrong, stop them from doing it. If a Soldier is about to go someplace, go with them and be the designated driver, or the designated person to not have alcohol," said McKinney. "The bottom line is to look out for each other. Sometimes, when I am out on battlefield circulation I ask why do you think these things are not happening, and they say, 'well it's because we look out for each other.'"
The other step he said he takes is to be approachable. He feels this enables people to talk and to head off some of the problems before they happen.
Champoux told the group that ultimately they would have to "lead" their way out of the problem of sexual assault, not be apologetic for having high standards and not be afraid to enforce those standards all the time.
As he prepared to depart for his next meeting, Champoux told the 1st Signal Brigade Soldiers that he is proud to wear the same uniform that they do. He said he knows how much the signal Soldiers do day in and day out that never gets recognized, and that Eighth Army can't go where it needs to go without them and thanked them for their efforts.