By Spc. Gregory T. Summers, 1st Signal Brigade Public Affairs OfficeMay 9, 2014
USAG YONGSAN, South Korea -- 1st Signal Brigade hosted its first ever Sexual Harassment/Assault Response Prevention (SHARP) Stand Down April 18 at Yongsan's Multi-Purpose Training Facility to conduct annual training and promote sexual assault awareness.
Soldiers and civilians of 1st Signal Brigade from 41st Signal Battalion, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, Joint Command Information System Activity (JCISA), 14th Signal Detachment North and 251st Signal Company gathered to take a stand against sexual assault and harassment.
Master Sgt. Erica D. Williams, 1st Signal Brigade SHARP Coordinator said, "We wanted to bring everyone we could from the brigade together and discuss SHARP, conduct training and put out awareness. We needed to inform every Soldier of the changes within the SHARP Program and also get some feedback from them with how they feel the program is working."
While SHARP was the main reason for gathering the Soldiers for the day, they also received training in ethics, equal opportunity, cyber addiction and fraternization.
The color teal was designated as the color to wear to support sexual assault awareness. Many Soldiers and civilians donned teal shirts to take a stand against sexual assault.
1st Signal Brigade leaders attended the event and spoke about the importance of removing sexual assault and harassment from within the ranks. However, unlike most training situations, the leaders did not speak to the Soldiers, but rather spoke and discussed with them about taking a stand against sexual assault.
Lt. Col. John K. Harris, 1st Signal Brigade Deputy Brigade Commander opened the Stand Down and said, "Any type of SHARP incident is just flat out wrong. It goes against our core values of the Army."
"These SHARP classes and events are helping to change our mindset, our culture, our way we do business and it is changing it to an operation," Harris added. "It's for everyone and we treat it like an operation, because we need to figure out how to stop it."
Command Sgt. Maj. Darris Curry, 1st Signal Brigade Command Sergeant Major followed Harris with a question. "How many of you are 'SHARP-ed' out? No retribution. I promise. Just raise your hands," said Curry.
"So, why do we still do this and why are we still talking about it?" asked Curry. "It's still happening, so we continue to do this, because we are going to win against this enemy. We've defeated enemies in Iraq, Afghanistan and all over the world. And I know this is a war against an enemy within our own ranks, but we will not give up."
Curry went on to discuss how preventing sexual assault and harassment is the number one priority of the Army and stressed just how important the SHARP Stand Down was.
"Do you want to know how important this stuff is?" Curry asked. "We are taking about 2,000 man hours off of operating and defending the networks in Korea today, because it is that important. It's extremely important that we all get this message out, take this information and implement it. Don't stand by and let this stuff keep happening."
Later in the afternoon, the 1st Signal Brigade SHARP Team conducted the annual training and reminded Soldiers of the available reporting options and counseling services available for them if they should become a victim to sexual assault or harassment. Also, the new Sexual Assault Hotline number is now "1-5-8" on any DSN line across the entire Korean Peninsula.
The 1st Signal Brigade SHARP Panel also hosted an open forum during the Stand Down to allow an opportunity for Soldiers to understand the investigation process of an incident and to answer Soldiers' questions.
The all-day event concluded with a final, powerful speech by Col. Paul H. Fredenburgh III, 1st Signal Brigade Commander. "We are not going to 'train' our way out of this problem. It will help, but it will not get us where we need to be," Fredenburgh said.
"This month's theme is 'Speak up! A voice unheard is an Army defeated.' I know my Army is not defeated. I know this brigade is not defeated," added Fredenburgh. "We've got an enemy inside the wire and it is only about 1 percent. If 99 percent of the Army can't stand up and help defeat the enemy, then who is going to do it? Who is going to have the courage, which is one of our core values, to call them out and stop it?"
Fredenburgh went on to stress the importance of the brigade Stand Down. Fredenburgh said, "The whole intent of today was to get emotion out of you and fire you up, because we all need to get emotional about this, take it personal and own it, because that's how we are going to stop it."
"We are going to stop it by individually protecting ourselves and each other, not drinking to oblivion, and calling out those people who are not treating our brothers and sisters in arms with respect before the assault ever gets a chance to take place," Fredenburgh said.
"This is an Army I have served in for 26 years and it's an Army I am proud of. I know you are all proud of it, too," added Fredenburgh. "So let's stand up, speak up and let every voice be heard so we can stop this stuff!"
Master Sgt. Douglas G. Rendles, 1st Signal Brigade Chief Battlefield Spectrum Manager and SHARP Team member said that SHARP is an everyday thing. "April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month and we are doing all of these events, but SHARP is every day," Rendles said. "This is everybody's program and we are all a part of it. We cannot over train when it comes to sexual harassment and assault."
Williams added, "We wanted everyone who came to the Stand Down today to understand that the SHARP program is working, it is in full effect and you can see the changes. The number of reports and cases are getting higher, but it is because Soldiers are starting to trust the SHARP Program and are reporting their issues instead of hiding them."