FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. — Fort Leonard Wood’s Maneuver Support Center of Excellence demonstrated their commitment to safety excellence during fiscal year 2021, earning five U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command safety awards for their efforts.
Fort Leonard Wood winners included:
- Maj. Jason Overstreet, 795th Military Police Battalion, in the Field Grade Commissioned Officer category;
- Spc. Michael Silbernagel, 169th Engineer Battalion, in the Junior Enlisted (E-1 through E-4) category;
- Gregory Wolf, Chemical Defense Training Facility, in the Senior Department of the Army Civilian (GS-13 to GS-15) category;
- 169th Engineer Battalion, in the Army Exceptional Organization (battalion level) category; and
- Fort Leonard Wood Explosive Safety Program in the Army Excellence in Explosives Safety category.
According to Oscar Powers, MSCoE Safety director, the winners represent a culture here that succeeds in accident prevention through risk management.
“The Fort Leonard Wood team consistently has proven the positive safety culture here in the Ozarks, and has once again put forth the effort to recognize our own for their achievements,” he said.
Overstreet, the 795th MP Battalion executive officer, was “instrumental” in the battalion’s safety program in 2021, wrote Col. Kirk Whittenberger, 14th Military Police Brigade commander, in Overstreet’s award nomination letter.
Whittenberger wrote that Overstreet conducted weekly working groups to ensure commanders had the supplies they needed to continue the training mission while also working to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Overstreet also helped the unit adapt to and execute controlled monitoring — a vapor barrier and controlled monitoring barracks set-up Overstreet developed became the brigade-level standard.
Under Overstreet’s guidance, the battalion’s safety program earned an excellence rating during a September command inspection. Inspectors stated it was the best program in the brigade.
Silbernagel, a medic with the Sapper Training Company, saved the life of a Marine on July 23, when emergency medical services’ response time was going to be 25 minutes. Silbernagel provided care and monitoring of the Marine before and during evacuation to General Leonard Wood Army Community Hospital.
The decisiveness and immediate action by Silbernagel was highlighted by Col. Gerald Law, 1st Engineer Brigade commander.
“He took control of the situation, made the decision to not wait for EMS and notified the emergency room to prepare for the casualty, all while rendering aid and keeping the casualty stabilized,” Law wrote in Silbernagel’s award nomination letter.
Wolf, the surety supervisor and deputy director of the CDTF, provides direct oversight and significant technical direction to the creation and maintenance of arguably the most comprehensive organizational safety program of any unit in the Department of Defense.
Under Wolf’s leadership, the CDTF has maintained the OSHA Voluntary Protection Program Star certification for a third consecutive year. The CDTF is the only organization within TRADOC, and one of 11 Army organizations to earn OSHA VPP Star certification, wrote Col. Fredrick Parker, 3rd Chemical Brigade commander, in Wolf’s award nomination letter.
During both the July 2021 Department of the Army Inspector General Chemical Surety Inspection, and an August 2021 Army Safety Office Special Interest Survey, the CDTF safety program was lauded as the standard for best practice within the Army, Parker wrote.
The 169th Engineer Battalion completed 12 consecutive months without experiencing a Soldier or unit at fault Class A, B or C accident, wrote Law in the battalion’s award nomination letter.
The Sapper Training Company — which is aligned under the 169th — devised and implemented the Sapper Physical Fitness Test, a pre-assessment designed to ensure students could meet the physical demands for continued course execution. The company also implemented new heat mitigation techniques and partnered with the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine to track students’ vitals in real time during the course, Law wrote.
The battalion enforced COVID-19 mitigation measures, including additional preventive measures in Company A, which trains Army Divers. Their augmented disinfection measures were implemented on all diving-related equipment after every dive.
The battalion’s training mission includes companies in Panama City Beach, Florida, and Gulfport, Mississippi. In 2021, two named storms, Tropical Storm Fred and Hurricane Ida, impacted these units. Leaders maintained 100 percent accountability of permanent-party personnel and trainees while ensuring the unit was resourced for sustained emergency operating conditions.
The Fort Leonard Wood Explosive Safety Program excelled in evaluations by two Army-level organizations in 2021, wrote Col. Richard Ball, MSCoE chief of staff, in the award nomination letter.
A team from the Logistics Review and Technical Assistance Office, Defense Ammunition Center, in McAlester, Oklahoma, inspected 290 elements over a broad range of programs concerning explosives. Fort Leonard Wood’s explosive safety portion scored an impressive 96 percent, out of 98 elements, Ball wrote.
The other inspection was a first of its kind “Special Interest Survey,” led by the Army’s lead Senior Safety Engineer of Explosive Safety. The team assessed Fort Leonard Wood’s ammunition and explosives, chemical and radiation programs and had no findings; only laudatory comments on the Fort Leonard Wood Explosive Safety Program, Ball wrote.
Throughout fiscal year 2021, Fort Leonard Wood maintained paramount standards in safety and risk mitigation, Ball wrote, with no documented explosives-related accidents at any of the ranges or with the numerous training areas.
“This accident-free status extends at least 10 years into the past,” Ball wrote. “This feat is a testament to Fort Leonard Wood’s commitment to risk and training management.”
The TRADOC winners are now in the running for Army-wide recognition in their respective categories. Army-level winners are expected to be announced within the next month, Powers said.