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FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. — Fort Leonard Wood’s Maneuver Support Center of Excellence demonstrated their commitment to safety excellence during fiscal year 2021, earning three Army-level safety awards for their efforts.

Fort Leonard Wood winners included:

  • Maj. Jason Overstreet, 795th Military Police Battalion, in the Field Grade Commissioned Officer 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. This was the second year in a row the ESP was named best in the Army.

In a letter dated June 9, Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville and Secretary of the Army Christine Wormuth thanked the winners for their hard work and accident-prevention efforts.

“The accomplishments of these winners reinforces the importance of proactive risk management integrated throughout our plans, operations and training,” they wrote. “Effective loss prevention is central to Army readiness and is especially important in light of force reductions and resource challenges.”

Oscar Powers, MSCoE Safety director, called the wins here, “a testament to the entire Fort Leonard Wood ‘team of teams’ approach to all risk-mitigation activities we do here.”

“The U.S. Army is a people-centric profession,” he said. “(These awards) show how much the people and the units here do, in fact, care about the safety of individuals and their families.”

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.

The 169th Engineer Battalion completed 12 consecutive months without experiencing a Soldier or unit at fault Class A, B or C accident, wrote Col. Gerald Law, 1st Engineer Brigade commander, 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.

Lt. Col. Vanessa Bowman, the battalion’s commander, called the award an honor for the unit.

“Our team uses risk management as a core strategy to drive operational excellence as well as enhance safety while conducting joint-partnered training of nearly 3,000 service members annually in eight Engineer military occupational specialties, two advanced leader and senior leader courses and two functional courses at five locations,” she said.

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 at the time, 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 positive 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 Army level awards come in addition to the five individuals and teams here who were named U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command safety winners in January.