FORT RUCKER, Ala. (September 19, 2007) -The U.S. Army must continue its transformation and cultural change in relation to safety if it is to decrease accidental losses and protect Soldiers said Army Chief of Staff Gen. George W. Casey Jr. during a visit to Fort Rucker and the U.S. Army Combat Readiness/Safety Center recently.

The cumulative affect of six years of sustained war results in combat-experienced warriors. However, the Army still needs to focus on arming its Soldiers with the education and tools necessary to protect themselves from not only the everyday hazards they face, but from themselves as well, the general said. This fiscal year, the Army experienced the loss of 230
Soldiers to accidents. Army senior leadership remains resolute on a continual focus of engagement and implementation of safety programs and initiatives.

"We, as an Army, have stepped up and embraced safety as an essential and required function of our missions," said Brig. Gen. Bill Forrester, Director of Army Safety and Commanding General of the U.S. Army Combat Readiness/Safety Center. "The impact of engaged leaders is seen in the decrease of fatalities as well as the increasing safety awareness and integration of safety programs and tools."

The CSA's visit included discussion of tools such as the Army Readiness Assessment Program, which provides commanders an inside look at their formation's safety climate allowing them to identify the strengths and weaknesses that might lead to accidents or mishaps. Since the program's implementation, over 2,606 units have registered and over 869,354 servicemembers have completed assessments.

These types of initiatives are right on track in enabling our leaders and Soldiers to operate in an Army environment where risk awareness is constantly present, both on and off duty, Casey said.

"Additionally, installations both here and overseas have wrapped their arms around initiatives such as the Motorcycle Mentorship program," said Forrester. "These types of programs help Soldiers foster a safety climate as well as embrace the Band of Brother concept - a feeling of belonging to something bigger than yourself. This powerful concept empowers each member, each leader and each teammate to look out for and protect one another.

While our Soldiers adhere to this concept while in combat, there is a tendency to let it go when they get back or when they are off duty. Programs such as MMP reinforce that concept and environment so they remain strong and influences actions, decisions and involvement with our peers."

In addition to valued Army programs, senior leadership is also looking at the differences within each generation of Soldiers and leaders in the force.