YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea (Army News Service, Feb. 14, 2012) -- Eighth Army, like the rest of the Army, is serious about stamping out sexual assault. The command has taken its sexual assault prevention training to all camps and garrisons in South Korea throughout the month of February.

Conducted by the U.S. Army Sexual Harassment/Assault Prevention and Response Program mobile training team, the training is being held for sexual assault response coordinators and victim advocates at Camp Hovey, Yongsan Garrison, Camp Humphreys and Camp Walker.

In December 2008, the Army reorganized the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office into the SHARP program to focus efforts on eradicating both sexual assault and sexual harassment from its formations.

Lead instructor Curtis Smith said the SHARP program takes an all-encompassing approach to preventing sexual assault and harassment.

"The SHARP program currently being trained approaches sexual violence as a whole, meaning that sexual harassment infractions are viewed as possible precursors to sexual assault crimes," Smith said.

"Bystander intervention is one of the SHARP program cornerstones, as everyone is not only charged with being able to recognize signs of sexual violence, but also to draw upon their sense of responsibility to act and motivate others in stopping the situation," he added.

Smith said the training encourages a proactive approach to preventing sexual assault and sexual harassment.

"One of the main takeaways from the training is that we are brothers- and sisters-in-arms and that sexual harassment and sexual assault are incompatible with our Army values and warrior ethos," said Smith.

According to 1st Lt. Page Packer, Eighth Army SHARP program manager, the command is piloting new techniques and curricula to deal with factors unique to Korea like widely dispersed bases and a large number of junior Soldiers.

SHARP training provides "first responders and [subject matter experts] on the ground to implement prevention techniques," she said.

According to Brig. Gen. David J. Conboy, Eighth Army deputy commander, SHARP training is an example of the command's commitment to preventing sexual assault. Conboy heads the Eighth Army Sexual Assault Prevention Task Force, which was formed in May 2011. The task force is currently evaluating policies, programs and procedures designed to prevent sexual assaults.

"Sexual assault not only causes significant harm to our Soldiers, but it also diminishes our cohesiveness and ability to accomplish our important mission," said Conboy, noting that the prevention of sexual assault takes a proactive, comprehensive approach

(Walter T. Ham IV serves with Eighth Army public affairs)