KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany-- Sustainment Soldiers assigned to the 21st Theater Sustainment Command conducted a 48-hour command wide safety stand down to increase awareness on all aspects of safety and review trends of Class A, B, and C level incidents involving vehicle operations, on and off duty throughout the European Theater, Germany, on Aug. 30-31, 2023.
Units across the U.S. Army conduct safety stand downs yearly to focus on various safety procedures to combat complacency. The 21st TSC team conducted their safety stand down before summer's end, ensuring that continual efforts are made to enhance driver training programs across the theater while safely carrying out missions around the European theater.
"There is nothing more important than our people," said Brig. Gen. Ronald Ragin, commanding general, 21st Theater Sustainment Command. "You have to care. The safety and welfare of our people in this command and within the communities of our host nation is my priority. That's why this emphasis on safety within everything we do is important.”
During the stand down, the sustainment theater halted all non-mission essential activities and took a couple of days to reflect on the basics of vehicle safety.
"We can become complacent within our own jobs and what we do every day,” said Sgt. 1st Class Samuel Scarborough, movement and maneuver support non-commissioned officer, 39th Transportation Battalion. “It’s a routine we get into and then we miss the small things and I think the safety stand down, helps getting us back to the basics and bringing us back to what we know is right and is very important.”
In recent months, there has been an increase in vehicle accidents across the European Theater. Considering these events, sustainment leadership held the stand down prior to Labor Day weekend 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 government and personally owned vehicles (POV) daily.
"Before we put Soldiers into vehicles and put them on the road, we have got to make sure they are good to go,” Command Sgt. Maj. Kofie Primus, senior enlisted advisor, 21st Theater Sustainment Command. “This is not just in the motorpool but for their POVs as well.”
The safety stand down included classroom instruction and practical exercises to help Soldiers master the basics and apply their knowledge in realistic vehicle operation and safety scenarios.
"The safety stand down has been very informative, and it's taught us a lot. This was a good reminder of how to maintain vehicles properly and ensure we are driving safely," said Spc. Robert Younger, a Soldier assigned to 519th Battalion. "Getting hands-on experience and walking through step-by-step procedures, letting us know where we could find it and in things like [Field Manual] FM regulations was really helpful."
The practical training consisted of exercises specific to safety when driving a vehicle, host nation laws and regulations and foundational Army knowledge. These exercises ranged from instruction on adequately operating a vehicle OCONUS to German road sign familiarization.
"It's been good to see new faces and have a smaller group of people where you can get more personal training with a chance to get that hands-on experience," said Younger. "My favorite part of the training has been the motorcycle safety, and it helped me get an insight on how it helps make the road safer for motorcycle drivers."
Safety stand downs are essential for units across the Army to analyze and study what they could be doing better in their own organizations through reviewing safety policies, procedures and practices to fully identify and mitigate job hazards.