By Capt. Kurt E. Van Slooten, 1st Signal Brigade PAOFebruary 27, 2014
YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea -- During his visit to Korea, U.S. Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno took time out to do a video panel discussion with an Army captain and sergeant from Eighth Army and a Department of the Army civilian from 1st Signal Brigade.
"We wanted to give the CSA the opportunity to both have a conversation with some of Eighth Army's team and to get his perspectives on some of the Soldier indiscipline issues that we have here In Korea," said Col. Shawn A. Stroud, chief of public affairs for Eighth Army.
Stroud explained, that in the past Eighth Army has used Public Service Announcements from senior leaders to address indiscipline issues. But, based on feedback provided by a focus group of Soldiers and civilians his team started meeting with in October last year, the traditional PSAs are having a limited impact on the intended audience. He said that by allowing our Army's senior leader to address the issues in a recorded conversation with Soldiers and civilians here in Korea, he believes it will have a greater effect on the Soldiers, civilians and family members.
The idea for the roundtable discussion was initially discussed between Stroud and Grant Stombaugh Chief, Creative Services - Korea, Armed Forces Network-Pacific, Defense Media Activity, a member of the focus group, as a way to provide a format that would better reach its audience and which could be aired both on the Pentagon Channel and AFN Prime in Korea for greater reach.
Eighth Army's public affairs team recruited Capt. Don Y. Kim, Secretary of the General Staff operations officer, Eighth Army and Sgt. Lindsay D. Martin, Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion command group noncommissioned officer in charge, Eighth Army, from the headquarters staff to be members of the panel. AFN-Pacific provided Sgt. Andrew D. Branstad, NCOIC of radio in Korea, to serve as the moderator as well as Soldiers and Airmen to record the program, and Stombaugh served as executive producer.
However, Stroud felt it was equally important to represent the civilians and families serving here as well, so Barbara A. Archer, Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention victim advocate for 1st Signal Brigade was contacted to serve as their representative on the panel.
"Our DA civilians and spouses are part of the Army family and quite frankly, without them we could not do what our nation asks us to do," said Stroud. "Therefore, we felt it was imperative to have both our DA civilians and Army Spouses represented on this panel. Mrs. Archer embodies the incredible qualities of service, commitment, selfless sacrifice and care for our Soldiers as both a DA civilian and an Army spouse. As such, she was the ideal choice for our panel and was a superb advocate for the Eighth Army team."
Archer said, she felt humbled to be asked to represent both DA civilians and spouses for the important topics that discussed during the panel.
"We have been in the past asked to help quell such public adversities, as racism and sexism," said Archer. "Now sexual harassment and sexual assault prevention are on the table. It is my honor to be part of this historical endeavor. As we have great leaders who care, I am positive we will overcome and succeed, while leading the way forward as we have done so well in the past."
The subjects discussed were many of the hot-button topics facing the Army today including: fraternization, underage drinking, preventing sexual assault, personnel cuts and leader development as well as regional tensions in Korea and rebalancing to the Pacific.
Following the session, Odierno took photos with the panel members and was presented with a personalized Army Strong SHARP polo shirt by Archer and some of the SHARP program personnel from Eighth Army, 1st Signal Brigade, 501st Military Intelligence Brigade and USAG Yongsan prior to departing for his next meeting.
Stroud said that overall his team was very pleased with the panel and the flow of the conversation, which actually went longer than planned. This he said was due to the panel being very engaged with the CSA who was interested in hearing their candid feedback and continuing the dialogue. Stroud also indicated that the feedback he received from the CSA's team was overwhelmingly positive and the conversation panel may become a format they use in future visits to other locations and units.
AFN Pacific and the Pentagon Channel are producing two separate programs featuring the conversation with the CSA. The Pentagon Channel is currently scheduled to air "A Conversation with Gen. Ray Odierno" on Mar. 11 at 1 a.m., 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. EST, and AFN-Pacific is scheduled for Mar. 8 at 6:30 p.m. Korea Standard Time.