CAMP BONDSTEEL, Kosovo— Aviation Soldiers assigned to Regional Command-East, Kosovo Force, conducted a stand down to discuss safety procedures at Camp Bondsteel, Kosovo, on Mar. 5-6, 2021. Aviation units across the U.S. Army conduct safety stand downs every year to focus on various safety procedures and to combat complacency.
The KFOR team took the opportunity to conduct their safety stand down about mid-way through their tour and recognize Soldiers for their continual efforts and ensure their missions are carried out as safely as possible.
“It is important for us, as a unit, to recognize individuals in safety,” said Chief Warrant Officer 3 Lee Fuller, safety officer with the aviation task force. “It also helps reset the unit to start thinking in more of a safety mindset.”
During the stand down, the task force grounded all flights and took a couple of days to reflect on the basics of safety. Units can become complacent in day-to-day operations in the middle of a mobilization, said Fuller. The goal of the stand down was to emphasize safety all the way down to the smallest task and mitigate the risks of Soldiers making simple mistakes.
In the past months, there has been an increase in aviation accidents across the Army. In light of these events, aviation leadership held the stand down a few weeks early to highlight the importance of safety to prevent similar incidents. They used this time to analyze accident trends and decide what steps need to be taken to increase the safety of Soldiers as they operate aircraft on a daily basis.
“We want to take that step back, pause and figure out what lessons learned we can take from those unfortunate mishaps, and apply them to our own operations so we can avoid potential mishaps here,” said Fuller.
The safety stand down included classroom instruction and practical exercises to help Soldiers master the basics and apply their knowledge in realistic scenarios.
“We go around in groups,” said Pfc. Mariyah Berry, an automated logistical specialist assigned to RC-E. “We listen to the presenters tell us different facts and safety hazards at each station.”
The practical training consisted of exercises specific to both aviation and general Army knowledge. These exercises ranged from instruction on composites in helicopter rotors to combat lifesaver training and Sig Sauer M17 pistol familiarization.
“I really enjoyed going together in groups,” said Berry. “A lot of us don’t interact together because of the different [military occupational specialties] we have. My favorite station was learning about the weapons. I’ve never used a pistol before. I think this is really good training.”
Safety stand downs are a great way for units across the Army to analyze and study what they could be doing better in their own organizations.