By Sgt. Timothy Dinneen and Pfc. B. Todd Willis 82nd Abn. Div. PAOMarch 13, 2009
FORT BRAGG, N.C. - The Department of the Army presented the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, with the Composite Risk Management Safety Award at Devil Field March 5.
The award distinguishes the brigade from most others in the U.S. Army by recognizing their successful efforts in implementing the composite risk management system, which contributed to an overall 154 percent reduction in reportable accidents during the first three quarters during the brigade's deployment to Iraq in 2007 to 2008.
"I give credit to the six additional safety duty officers within the brigade, the commanders and all 3,500 paratroopers for this award," said Dale Wagner, the 1st BCT safety manager. "The reason we're successful is junior leaders doing the right thing when no one is looking. This equals protecting the force ... keeping more gunslingers in the fight."
In June 2007, the 1st BCT deployed to Iraq to conduct theater security force missions reorganizing the brigade into convoy escort teams, escorting more than 150 semi-tractor trailers feeding the major sustainment hubs for distribution across Iraq. In one, 24-hour period, the brigade employed 10 convoy escort teams consisting of 250 paratroopers driving more than 2,000 miles on Iraq's most dangerous roadways securing main supply routes.
Despite these continuous operations increasing the risks troopers endured, the brigade successfully reduced reportable accidents through the brigade's continued emphasis on managing safety.
According to the nomination memorandum submitted by Dave Henderson, the division's safety director, the brigade assisted first line supervisors by using the individual trooper risk assessment counseling in conjunction with monthly counseling to identify "high risk" paratroopers before accidents occurred while deployed in a combat zone.
The brigade staff also organized accident investigations to prevent recurrences of similar incidents and took proactive measures to address Army motor vehicles rollovers. Every Devil was trained in the humvee egress assistance trainer prior to deployment and a minimum of once per quarter during the deployment. The brigade also introduced safety awards putting the responsibility and implementation of the CRM process on junior leaders and paratroopers. This resulted in two straight quarters with major reductions of more than 50 percent for reportable accidents, according to the nomination memorandum.
However, Wagner attributed most of the reductions in accidents during the deployment to the CRM process. He said every member of Task Force Devil received a block of instruction or refresher training on the CRM process within the first 30 days of the deployment and instructed refresher classes throughout their tour.
"There are five steps to the CRM process and they are: to identify the hazard, assess the hazard, develop controls and make a decision, implement those controls, and supervise and evaluate," Wagner explained. "It's nothing more than what leaders and individual paratroopers do in their lane to minimize risk, it's as simple as wearing the right gear in the field, hydrating and wearing seat belts."
Many other safety programs have been executed upon redeployment through safety stand down days and partnering with local police and safety officials contributing to the brigade's continued success keeping their troopers safe.
The U.S. Forces Command deputy commanding general, Lt. Gen. Joseph F. Peterson came to Ft. Bragg to present the award to 1st BCT.
"The bottom line is that every Soldier in the brigade is responsible for this accomplishment," said Peterson, "The 1st BCT takes care of their Soldiers by keeping them safe."
The Devil Brigade commander, Col. Mark R. Stammer accepted the award from Peterson during a ceremony. "It's an honor to receive this award, which represents all of the hard work of the 1st BCT paratroopers," Stammer said.
Henderson acknowledged that once the paratroopers at the team leader and squad levels bought into the program and used the steps prescribed by the CRM, safety measures became engrained in the unit and positive results followed.
"This is a visible recognition of a unit that is saving lives, it's a tangible success," Henderson said.