CONTINGENCY OPERATING LOCATION Q-WEST, Iraq - Hundreds of service members and civilians took part in a sexual assault awareness walk here Feb. 12.

The walk, which was arranged theater-wide, was designed to promote awareness and let potential offenders know that people are watching, said Staff. Sgt. Bridget Savage, a unit victim advocate with the 15th Sustainment Brigade, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), and Princeville, N.C., native.

"We want to let Soldiers whom have been assaulted know there avenues to help them," Savage said.

The buddy system was a focus of the walk, as well as holding it after dark, since many sexual offenses occur at night, Savage said.

"We are making history," said 1st Sgt. Jeanette Short, the senior noncommissioned officer for Headquarters and Headquarters Company, Special Troops Battalion, 15th Sust. Bde. "Together we are taking a stand to eradicate sexual assault from our military. Our actions tonight speak volumes to sexual predators."

Sexual assault harms readiness and has no place in the military, Short said.

"Make it a habit to travel with your battle buddies," Short said to the walkers.

"We must consistently educate ourselves and others about sexual assault," said 1st Sgt. Jabari Williams, the senior noncommissioned officer for the Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 64th Armor Regiment.

"The systems are in place, we just have to enforce the standards," Williams said. "We will cut no slack to those violate or discredit America's finest."