President Calvin Coolidge returned home one Sunday afternoon after attending morning worship services. His wife, who was unable to attend, asked him what the preacher’s sermon was about. He replied: “Sin.” His wife then proceeded to inquire more about the content of the sermon. Coolidge said: “Well, I think he was against it.” Coolidge’s response to his wife was concise and accurate. His pastor had clearly articulated the problem but I’m not sure that he communicated the solution as clearly.
Army Chief of Staff Gen. James C. McConville charged the force to counter the three corrosives: Sexual Assault/Sexual Harassment, Extremism/Racism, and Suicide. In the Military Decision Making Process (MDMP), we learn that understanding the problem we are attempting to solve and creating a problem statement is of the utmost importance.
Without an accurate definition of the problem, any solution we devise may be attempting to solve the symptoms associated with the problem rather than solving the problem itself.
According to Field Manual 6-0: Commander and Staff Organization and Operations, “The problem statement is a concise statement of the obstacles preventing an organization from achieving a desired end state.” In order to solve the problem of the three corrosives in the ranks, we must have a clear understanding of the obstacles preventing us from achieving our goals.
What problem are we trying to solve?
Sexual Assault/Sexual Harassment, Extremism/ Racism, and Suicide have roots in a common issue: the inability to treat our fellow human beings with dignity and respect.
The Army is, and always has been, a values-based institution. The Army Values of loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity, and personal courage, undergird everything we do. These values are American values enshrined in the founding documents of our republic and served as a guiding light for Americans since before the foundation of our great nation (Army Publishing Directorate 6-22: Army Leadership and the Profession). The lack of knowledge of the Army Values and/or the inability or unwillingness to live them out in practice are the “obstacles preventing us from achieving a desired end state” of ending the corrosives in our ranks (FM 6-0).
How does the 38th ADA combat corrosives?
In recently published Army Extremism awareness discussion materials, which is used to “prevent negative behavior in the ranks,” the 38th ADA is well ahead of the curve in implementing the steps necessary to counteract Extremism and the Corrosives that plague the U.S. Army. Two of the steps mentioned in this slide presentation for counteracting these corrosives are “Army Values Instruction” and “Character Instruction.” The 38th ADA practiced these steps from its rededication in Japan in the following ways:
The 38th ADA hosts several initiatives with the purpose of communicating information and resources to Soldiers and families throughout three locations on mainland Japan, Okinawa, and Guam. The initiatives are shared across the DoD on every media platform. These include the series: SHARP Points; Ask the Doc; The Influence (EO) Podcast; Chaplain’s Neighborhood’ Resilience Talks; Pacific Guardian Fitness; and Army Values/Ethics Training.
The brigade Sexual Assault Response Coordinator instituted ‘SHARP Points,’ an innovative and creative multi-media presentation of ways to raise awareness and combat Sexual Assault and Harassment across the ranks. In coordination with the brigade Public Affairs Office and incorporating ideas gleaned from his knowledge of certain super-hero characters, Sgt. 1st Class Matthew D. Spurlock created and starred in a seven-episode video series teaching the basics of recognizing, preventing, and reporting sexual harassment and assault. In addition, he spoke on the importance of properly given and received consent and the need to treat each other with dignity and respect.
Chief Warrant Officer 2 Bradley Garrett, brigade Master Fitness Trainer, organized the Pacific Guardian Virtual Fitness program in which he demonstrates and explains specific exercises that can be done with simple body weight exercises to prepare for the Army Combat Fitness Test during the pandemic. Rather than throw in the towel and create excuses for not remaining prepared (no access to equipment, can’t go to the gym, etc.), Garrett used his extensive knowledge of physical training to create videos that teach Soldiers, step-by-step, how to remain physically fit despite the restrictions of the pandemic. These videos were shared across the DoD and inspired hundreds to not only maintain their physical readiness but, in many cases, moved Service Members to improve their physical fitness in a time when the opposite might be assumed.
‘Ask the Doc’ is a monthly question and answer forum sponsored by the brigade surgeon, Capt. Louis K. Chen, in which he explains common misconceptions and answers any medical questions that might be asked by members of the brigade while disseminating accurate and timely information on the safety and efficacy of vaccines and health practices. As the point person in creating and maintaining Medical Readiness, Chen takes the truth directly to the individual Soldier and increased readiness and health in a substantial way.
Military Equal Opportunity Advisor Sgt. 1st Class Joe E. Chacon created and hosts a series of monthly podcasts which helps create a dialogue on the importance of treating others with dignity and respect. ‘The Influence Podcast’ included a recent interview with the assistant course director for MX-400-Officership, at the Simon Center for the Professional Military Ethic, West Point Military Academy where they discussed how personal values, beliefs, and attitudes shape our behaviors and perceptions, reaching an international audience of more than 6,000 listeners.
Chaplain (Maj.) Mark A. Johnston, 38th ADA chaplain, created a video series which tied in Army Values, “What Right Looks Like: Ethics/Army Values and the Profession of Arms,” and the use of vignettes from U.S. History, the Arts (including music, movies, visual arts, comedy, philosophy, mythology, and religion), to teach Soldiers the importance of Army Values and how the inculcation of those Values creates a Moral Warrior who can face the rigors of combat and return to our society while retaining personal morality, personal dignity, and self-respect.
In addition, Johnston teamed up with Sgt. Raquel Birk, brigade public affairs, created a 30-episode video series called ‘Chaplain’s Neighborhood’, recorded at different scenic places in central Japan where Soldiers may be interested in visiting, featuring the Army Values, personal stories, and guidance on remaining Resilient during these trying times. These videos were shared on every platform in the DoD and across every Armed Service, including the US Coast Guard and the National Guard.
The 38th ADA is at the tip of the spear in leading by example in creating an Army rooted in the Army Values and thus rooting out Extremism and the other Corrosives that, if left unchecked, would destroy readiness.
The 38th ADA remains ready to lead the Army by example in eliminating corrosives across the ranks. They continue to find innovative ways to combat the corrosives and increase readiness, demonstrating to both friends and enemies that Winning Matters!
Together, the Soldiers, DoD civilians, and families of the 38th ADA adapt, overcome and defeat the enemies of the US, including extremism and other corrosives, through hard work, initiative, creativity, and old-fashioned elbow grease, setting the example as they challenge other units across the DoD to be a professional fighting force.
“By Valor and Power!” “People First!” “Winning Matters!”