FORT HUACHUCA, Ariz. – People are the Army’s greatest strength and its number one priority. As leaders, taking care of Soldiers is paramount. To effectively take care of Soldiers, leaders must know and understand them, but also continue to grow and develop themselves as leaders.
Senior leaders from the Military Intelligence Corps attending the pre-command course navigated the Resilience, Awareness, Prevention, Inclusion and Diversity (RAPID) Escape Challenge Feb. 10.
Fort Huachuca’s RAPID Escape Challenge, better known as the RAPID Escape Room, gives leaders the opportunity to take a more interactive and personal approach to RAPID.
The Army’s Sexual Harassment Assault Response and Prevention (SHARP) Program is also a key focal point.
“We want to ensure leaders have a really good understanding of what it’s like to go through a sexual assault, sexual harassment or other types of adverse situations, but more importantly how to deal with them,” said Stacy Picciano, Network Enterprise Technology Command SHARP Program Manager.
Fort Huachuca is home to the MI Corps, and leaders participating in the weeklong pre-command course had the opportunity to experience the escape room.
“This helps leaders be more aware and better prepared for situations our Soldiers unfortunately encounter,” said Col. Jay Harty, U.S. Army Intelligence Center of Excellence (USAICoE). “It helps us identify red flags and indicators that can help us intervene if we notice something affecting our Soldiers.”
Sgt. 1st Class Saquawia Pennington, 111th MI Brigade RAPID Program Manager, created the escape room in 2019 and has been involved with SHARP either as a Victim Advocate or Sexual Assault Response Coordinator since 2013.
Over the past two years, over 3000 Soldiers have been through the escape room. Being able to deliver thought-provoking, impactful training is essential to Pennington, and in turn, benefits leadership.
“Senior leaders are sometimes afraid to be vulnerable,” Pennington said. “This teaches them why it’s important to let your Soldiers know they are seen and heard.”
Once inside the facility, SHARP representatives take leaders through eight low-light rooms that hold a variety of clues, puzzles and various other intriguing interactions that support SHARP and RAPID.
From finding journal entries to text messages from Family and friends, each room brings with it the realism that has Ft. Huachuca’s pilot model being emulated across the Army.
The focus of the escape room is Pfc. John Grayson, a fictional Soldier whose leadership had challenges to support him as he silently dealt with the effects caused by SHARP-related offenses.
Every step of the way, the people he depended on missed the indicators of his struggles, and this is something the training is designed to prevent.
“Going the extra mile to know your Soldiers will help leaders notice the signs and indicators we’ve seen here,” Harty said. “Positively engaged leaders can help prevent someone’s worst day of their life.”
Promoting a culture change by building a foundation for leaders to prevent and address all harmful behaviors is crucial.
Pennington recognizes that being proactive is the best way for leaders to help their Soldiers.
“You don’t want to wait until you have that DWI or SHARP incident before you engage your Soldiers,” Pennington said. “We have to sit down, talk to and listen to our Soldiers. We must do better. We can always do better.”
Positively engaged leaders are the key to making opportunities like the RAPID Escape Room continue to make a difference.
“We can’t prevent everything, but as a leader, you do everything in your power to mitigate the risks to your Soldiers,” said Lt. Col. Marcus O’Neal, 103rd Intelligence and Electronic Warfare Battalion.
For more information on the Fort Huachuca RAPID Escape Challenge, please contact Stacy Picciano at 520-538-3393 or Sgt. 1st Class Saquawia Pennington at, 520-533-4448.