By Art Powell, U.S. Army Combat Readiness Center; Fort Rucker, AlabamaOctober 21, 2015
When a battalion commander in the 82nd Airborne Division wanted to know what his Soldiers thought about their unit's safety culture, he found out when he had them use the Army Readiness Assessment Program.
Their answers led to changes in the motor pool at the Fort Bragg-based unit and removed safety issues that could have produced injuries and non-mission ready equipment.
"The paratroopers under my command used the 'comments' section of ARAP to provide feedback on unsafe work conditions they saw that required my immediate action in our motor pool," said Lt. Col. Peter L. Gilbert, commander, 307th Brigade Support Battalion, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division. "Upon notification and a guided leader discussion with ARAP professionals, we were able to act quickly in correcting deficiencies as well as review and re-address policy and our internal maintenance SOP," he added.
Gilbert said the ARAP data was vital to giving him an unfiltered look inside his organization.
"ARAP has anonymity built into it that makes it easy for paratroopers to inform commanders, something they may be hesitant to talk about in front of their peers or supervisors," he said. "It means I get unfiltered, pragmatic feedback from paratroopers in my organization, and that's what I want and need to hear."
The ARAP is a web-based survey designed to help commanders understand and evaluate their unit's safety climate and culture, and other areas, while providing valuable insights into what Soldiers are thinking. It provides immediate feedback to the commander or senior leadership and is a forum where Soldiers may express their thoughts candidly without fear of retribution.
Army Regulation 385-10, The Army Safety Program, calls for battalion-level commanders to assess their unit's readiness through ARAP within 90 days of assuming command. That assessment provides a baseline against which subsequent ARAP data can be compared.
ARAP, focused on overall unit 'readiness,' measures more than safety.
When Soldiers complete ARAP, they have provided input on the topics of organizational process/climate, resources, supervision and safety which commanders can analyze to search for the root causes of accidental loss. They can also gain perspective as to why individuals may accept unnecessary risk and address safety-related issues and work to prevent injuries, fatalities and maintain a unit's mission-ready capability.
Only unit commanders or their designated representatives and the U.S. Army Combat Readiness Center have access to the results. When completed, a confidential debrief is conducted on a one-on-one basis between the commander and the CRC to discuss ARAP findings and review candid comments.
"A mouse click is all it takes for a commander to see critical, unfiltered information from across their organization that impacts their overall safety program," said Charlie Mahone, chief, Programs Division, U.S. Army Combat Readiness Center. "Armed with this, commanders can focus limited resources where they can provide the most return on investment by reducing accidents, injuries and saving lives."
ARAP assessments give a commander a 'free look' inside their unit and provide the basis for building a plan to address those issues that Soldiers and employees are talking about.
Don't think ARAP is geared to just combat units because the issues and concerns that affect the effectiveness and/or readiness of a tactical unit can also impact non-tactical units in areas such as communication, leadership, lack of resources and policies.
Historical ARAP data shows it is effective: Units scoring in the bottom 25 percent account for more than twice the number of fatalities and Class A accidents than units scoring in the top 25 percent, according to CRC data.
"Ask yourself: How safe are we? Are there things my Soldiers will tell me through ARAP that will keep them safe and preserve our combat power?" Mahone said. "Take the ARAP assessment and continue to lead the way while preserving our nation's resources."
For additional information on ARAP, visit https://safety.army.mil/