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Posted: May 4, 2018 2:33 p.m.
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Deployed RSSB observes SAAPM

Sgt. 1st Class Ben K. Navratil/

1st Lt. Crystal Taitt-Phillip, the medical operations officer for the 3rd Infantry Division Resolute Support Sustainment Brigade, talks about preventing sexual assault in the military at a Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention solarium at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, April 23. The 3rd ID RSSB SHARP team hosted the solarium to foster discussion on the issue of sexual violence in the Army.

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BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan - To continue to bring awareness to the Army’s Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention Program (SHARP), Soldiers with the 3rd Infantry Division Resolute Support Sustainment Brigade conducted events throughout April for Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month. Events included spin classes, painting, self-defense classes and solariums.

“All these events are geared towards preventing sexual assault,” said Sgt. 1st Class Jennifer Darling, the sexual assault response coordinator for the 3rd Inf. Div. RSSB. “Since sexual assault does happen, regardless if you are down range or back home, I think it’s a great idea to bring awareness while we are out here.”

Building awareness goes both ways for preventing sexual assault. Darling planned solariums to effectively get a pulse on Soldiers’ perspectives on SHARP.

“Solariums are discussions to get feedback from the Soldiers to see how the programs are working and what the command can do to improve the program,” Darling said. “Rather than take a big class, we take a small group so we can hear the voice of the Soldiers.”

Darling went around the Combined Joint Operations Area – Afghanistan, conducting these solariums. She gathered groups ranging from all females to all males, lower and senior enlisted and officers to get a broader perspective on potential improvements they’d like to see to the program. 

“I think it’s working, looking at it from 16 years ago when I joined to where we’re at now,” said Darling. “Back then we were in the reactive phase, but right now we are trying to be proactive.”

To help Soldiers be proactive, the brigade put on a self-defense class. During this class, groups of Soldiers could practice escaping from an assault in a safe environment.

“We educated them on the realism on what can happen and provided the class self-defense knowledge through a training environment,” said Sgt. Corey Sones, the 3rd Inf. Div. RSSB network operations noncommissioned officer, who taught the self-defense class. “We prepare them against sexual predators and potential dangers while we’re out here.”

The class included a variety of potential threats, including being pushed to the ground, being choked from behind or from the front, as well as being bear-hugged. Sones ran through each attack, demonstrated how to escape them and concluded the class by doing all the attacks at random to simulate a real threat.

“We did 100 percent drills where the trainer would choke the trainee,” he said. “People are not used to being attacked so we wanted to make sure they were knowledgeable on how to escape in a safe manner.”

As April comes to a close, deployed Soldiers have been taught sexual assault response and prevention, through both physical protection with self-defense and increasing overall awareness of the resources available to them. 

“I hope that they did get something out of it this month, however my hope is that sexual assault, sexual harassment awareness isn’t only during this month, but every single day they are being proactive in preventing sexual assault in our formation,” Darling said. 

The Army SHARP continues to develop to combat threats to our Soldiers, civilians and coalition partners, to provide the resources so people can take a stand against sexual assault and harassment.

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