CAMP ARIFJAN, Kuwait -- Sexual assault and sexual harassment is an Armywide problem. In fact, its determined elimination is the Army's No.1 priority.
Assisting in this effort is Chief Warrant Officer 3 Rennee Townsend, the senior Sexual Assault Response Coordinator (SARC) for U.S. Army Forces, Central Command (USARCENT).
Townsend has been responsible for coordinating the SHARP Mobile Training Team (MTT) since August 2013. In doing so, she organized and conducted six graduating classes of SARCs and Victim Advocates (VA), which included Soldiers and Department of Army civilians deployed in six different countries and more than 150 U.S. Armed Force units in theater.
In the Army, SHARP stands for Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention.
SARCs and VAs are required to combat the internal war while the U.S. military supports Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, Operation Spartan Shield in Kuwait and other operations in the Middle East/Southwest Asia regions.
During February, USARCENT hosted two SHARP MTT classes. There were a total of 62 graduates who completed this accelerated 80-hour course. Each course was full of scenarios, role playing skits, subject matter expert panel discussions, and capstone exercises which prepared the graduates to handle incidents of sexual harassment and sexual assaults as first responders while protecting the victim's rights.
The 402nd Army Field Support Brigade had three people who graduated from the Feb. 10 class: Sgt. 1st Class Andres Carvajalhidalgo, Sgt. 1st Class Julio Sotocencepcion and Claudia Chandler-Reblora all from its battalion in Qatar.
The Feb. 21 graduating class had four Soldiers from the 402nd AFSB: Maj. Stephen Cameron, Army Field Support Battalion--Southwest Asia, Chief Warrant Officer 3 Cleon Morris, Sgt. 1st Class Dennis Dutton and Staff Sgt. Jacob Williams III -- all of Army Field Support Battalion-Kuwait.
"It was an honor to attend SHARP training from Feb. 1-10. The training was intense, but well worth my time," said Chandler-Reblora.
"For me, working in small groups and participating in role-playing scenarios were the most effective parts of the training," Chandler-Reblora said. "I left Kuwait with a better understanding and an abundance of information, tools, contacts and strategies for preventing and responding to sexual harassment or sexual assault situations."
A fragmentary order has been issued and tasks future incoming units into theater to deploy with a full-time SARC and VA.
SARCs and VAs are the "Force Behind the Fight" and are a necessary component to move the U.S. military toward the prevention phase of SHARP, by educating and training Soldiers and civilians.
(Editor's note: Chief Warrant Officer 3 Rennee Townsend, USARCENT senior SARC, contributed to this article.)