"Thoughts From the Running Trail" - Secured Liberty
Last week, as the commander of CJTF-HOA, I made the decision to secure liberty for our military members until further notice. After assessing the intelligence and force protection indicators, we based our decision on a reasonable measure of risk, to ourselves, and to our mission. As of today, April 28th, liberty remains secured.
This doesn't mean than we are in "lock down," or at mission stop. In fact, our mission is moving forward, and we're continuing with all our mission-critical events that happen outside the walls of the camp, including civil affairs missions, military-to-military training, activities at various ranges, and various key leader engagements that enable our mission of building a team based on trust and shared understanding. Liberty is affected - and some community relations activities have also been curtailed.
It's important that during this time, we talk to our teammates and keep each other informed. As leaders, we have to assess the risks to mission and the risks to ourselves, and determine what a reasonable measure of risk is. Remember -- "Mission First, Service Members Always."
There is risk, and there is unnecessary risk. Our profession is inherently dangerous, and we won't ever eliminate ALL risk and still be able to accomplish our mission - but we can reduce it to a reasonable level. It's also important that we follow our intuition, keep sharp awareness when we're outside of Camp conducting our missions. Equally we must stay informed by limiting rumors and passing on information from official sources, like supervisors and Public Service Announcement emails on camp. Together, we can take steps to reduce danger to ourselves and our mission.
Speaking of eliminating dangers, April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. We must continue to engage every day with preventive measures to combat sexual assault and harassment.
Teammates -- even a single incident of sexual assault, is one too many. Sexual Assault and unwanted personal contact is an affront to the values we hold as military members. It violates our warrior ethos and is it incompatible to our profession of arms. This profession DEMANDS both high competence and high character, and this threat causes irreparable harm to ourselves and our military. What's worse is that our fight is against an "insider threat" -- each instance of this crime is US, attacking OURSELVES.
Throughout the month of April, the Department of Defense focuses on prevention of sexual assault through education and training. Leaders at every level of our armed forces encourage reporting, and work to reduce any stigma associated of being a victim of such abuse. The military also focuses on the care of victims of these despicable acts thorough investigations and prosecutions. If convicted, offenders are held accountable through punitive actions, which may include prison time, discharge or dismissal from service under other than honorable conditions.
So what can each of us do to eliminate these criminal acts from our ranks? Clearly, sexual assault prevention is EVERYONE's responsibility and everyone has a role to play to help prevent it. Commanders and leaders must create and maintain a positive command climate, with trust and respect as the foundation. Also, live by our values of honor, courage and commitment. The chain of command is entrusted to protect and advocate for victims, beginning with an initial report, and until the victim decides he or she no longer requires assistance.
Remember, you are your brother and sisters' keeper. We can all be excellent battle buddies, wingmen, and shipmates by looking out for each other in uniform or out of uniform, both on and off-duty. Never tolerate unwanted sexual comments or advances, and take immediate action to stop them. If you see them, you must have the morale courage to step in, immediately. Assistance can always be provided through your chain of command, Chaplain, or Sexual Assault Response Coordinator (SARC) located here on CLDJ in Bldg 135, or by dialing 824-4532. Our world-class CARE team members are always available to assist you, 24/7/365.
We're a family here at CJTF-HOA, and we are a profession of arms. We represent the best of our country. It's important we treat each other with dignity and respect always... Regardless of gender, we wear the uniform and serve our nation "Together".
Have a great, safe week. We'll see you on the running trail!