JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash., -Thunderbolt junior leaders were brought together five times in the New Year by the 17th Field Artillery Brigade's Sexual Harassment and Assault Response and Prevention (SHARP), and Equal Opportunity representatives alongside the Command team to form a 'Tiger Team' designated to assess and influence the climate across the formation.
Originating at NASA, with the launch of Apollo 13, a 'Tiger Team' referred to the experts and engineers on the ground, who tirelessly assessed and handled every complex problem-and even earned the Presidential Medal of Freedom-by ensuring the success of its mission. Now, Tiger Teams are more commonly highly skilled, hand-picked groups of people who are passionate about problem solving-a high functioning team of specialists united to complete a designated project.
This 'Tiger Team', comprised of 26 Soldiers within the Brigade footprint, with different genders, ranks, ages, occupational specialties, and ethnic backgrounds, met with Col. Brandon Anderson and Command Sgt. Maj. Michael Carlan, the 17th FA Bde. Command team, in an open forum to discuss the working environment of the Brigade and to highlight possible variables in the organization that may contribute to a culture that tolerates unfair treatment, sexual harassment and sexual assault.
"To effect change, it is critical to understand the operational environment in which we live," said Fernice Morton, the 17th FA Bde. SHARP Victim Advocate. "We discussed communication, training, the current environment at units, challenges within our formation, intervention and wrapped up with 'good order and discipline.'"
The information and trends gathered at the informal meetings will be used to raise awareness, influence leaders in the organization, re-enforce standards, address unprofessional acts and correct deficiencies within the organization.
"The Tiger Team gave us an opportunity to interact with and most importantly listen to Soldiers about the organizational issues that are foremost in their mind-like sensing sessions-but longer in duration, with multiple meetings over three months," said Carlan. "Leadership from 1991 is not really different than in 2020. The tools we use have changed (social media, cell phones, email), but nothing replaces face-to-face leadership-that is unique to leading Soldiers."
To increase an open flow of communication and understanding, a few junior Soldiers also shadowed the brigade command team for a day. The Soldiers were given guidance and mentorship at the brigade, which they had expressed a desire for.
"As a result of the continued desire for leadership across the formation, four female junior Noncommissioned Officers (NCOs) have since formed a women's mentorship program called Sisters-in-Arms," said Carlan.
The goal of Sisters-in-Arms is to connect junior Soldiers and NCOs with senior NCOs and Officers to provide mentorship and guidance across the Brigade.
"Leaders in the Army are how change happens, this has been my experience," said Carlan. "Change is how we help the Army, and the leaders that most influenced me are the ones that helped me and the Army to change."