By Sgt. Nathaniel SmithMay 28, 2009
FORT RILEY, Kan. - A person doesn't have to travel very far outside the gates of Fort Riley to realize distractions abound for Soldiers - distractions that can take away from the individual Soldier and overall combat readiness of the unit.
On May 21, 11 units from the 'Big Red One' received the Sober Army Bravely Expedites Readiness streamer in recognition of success at battling such distractions.
The SABER program was constituted last year by the 1st Inf. Div. in order to recognize units that go an entire quarter without an alcohol or drug-related incident.
One unit, Company C, 2nd Battalion, 34th Armor Regiment, 1st Brigade, received a gold streamer for going two consecutive quarters without an incident.
Capt. Johnnie Bath, commander of Co. C, said his unit's success boils down to one basic principle between the unit's leadership and their Soldiers: trust.
"If you can't trust your Soldiers here, where can you trust them' You're building that trust right now; when you give that safety brief and release them for the weekend there's a level of trust there that they've taken what you've given," Bath said. "That's why you go through the training before you go to combat: you're building skills but also at the same time you're making sure that trust is built within the platoon, within the company and within the whole unit."
Maj. Gen. Vincent Brooks, commanding general of the 1st Inf. Div. and Fort Riley, said the gold streamer represents the unit as a whole.
"It is not easy to have your entire unit live to such a high standard," Brooks said. "When you see a gold streamer, you know you're looking at a unit of excellence."
Bath added that living to the standard required for the gold streamer means the entire command team must adhere to a virtue preached throughout the Army: taking care of Soldiers.
"We honestly care about our Soldiers. We take the time to get to know each one of them," Bath said. "We work hard to make sure they understand if there are any issues, any warning signs, we take care of them right then. We don't hesitate to work for our Soldiers."
Co. C, 2nd Bn., 34th Armor moves on to compete for the yearly SABER award, a cavalry saber given to the unit with the fewest incidents over the course of the year.