By Staff Sgt. Bryan DominiqueJune 27, 2016
JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. -- The U.S. Army has identified the squad leader as its example of the Army ethic, but they have rarely had the opportunity to voice their concerns about the state of the force to senior Army leaders, or at least until now.
I Corps, one of three Corps in the Army, is home to approximately 30,000 Soldiers at its headquarters on Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, and the Corps command sergeant major called upon squad leaders to share their thoughts and ideas during a "Not in My Squad" workshop, June 22-23.
"Not in my squad is a grassroots initiative, focused at building mutual trust and cohesion at the squad and team level," said Sergeant Major of the Army Daniel Daily in a video message to those participating in the workshop. "The highest performing squads are those that are built on trust; trust in their leaders and trust in one another. This is the essential element of Not in my Squad."
The I Corps NIMS workshop focused primarily on identifying ways to end sexual violence in the Army.
Participants were split into six groups, with each group being led by a senior non-commissioned officer or Department of the Army civilian. The groups were charged with developing recommendations and identifying the best practices to improve I Corps, and the Army's, policies on sexual assault and harassment.
"When I was talking to the SMA about a couple years ago, and we were talking about [not in my squad], he started off with sexual assault and sexual harassment," said Command Sgt. Maj. Michael Grinston, I Corps command sergeant major, to the group of squad leaders. "He stood in front of Congress and said, 'I can't solve this problem, but the staff sergeants can.'"
A squad in the U.S. Army is generally comprised of eight to 12 Soldiers led by a staff sergeant. There are currently about 56,000 staff sergeants in the Army, one of whom is Staff Sgt. Jere Cerdenio of Loma Linda, California. He has served in the Army for eight years, and he participated in the NIMS workshop.
"We all want the same thing. Our goals are the same, but we have different perspectives [and we] each bring something different to the table," said Cerdenio, who currently serves as a squad leader with I Corps' 1-2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 7th Infantry Division. "I've learned a lot. I've learned I'm not the only one, when it comes to dealing with Soldier's issues, who have these feelings. We all manage them in our own different ways, but it's nice to see things from different perspectives… I think it's a great program."
Recommendations, best practices and lessons learned compiled by squad leaders like Cerdenio will be presented to Grinston for review and the opportunity to affect and influence current and future policies.
The workshop concluded with a discussion with Monique Ferrell, the Army's Sexual Harassment and Assault Response Program director.
"The national conversations that are taking place right now over the subject of sexual violence are amazing," said Ferrell.