News: 'Black Lions' earn SABER award using buddy system, doing the right thing
Story by Sgt. Takita Lawery
FORT RILEY, Kan. - As 139 Soldiers stood at attention, a red streamer was attached to their company’s guidon. This streamer not only set them apart within their battalion, but within their brigade.
Company B, 1st Battalion, 28th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, was awarded a streamer as part of the Sober Armies Bravely Expedite Readiness, or SABER, program April 4 at Fort Riley.
The SABER program was designed to reduce alcohol- and drug-related incidents among Soldiers through the spirit of competition. It allows units to be recognized for their strict compliance with the Army Substance Abuse Program’s regulation and standards.
The red streamer represents that a unit has gone an entire quarter of a year with zero incidents, including not failing urinalysis or breathalyzer tests, or not having any vehicle accidents caused by drugs or alcohol.
“It’s extremely hard to earn this award and Co. B has accepted, met, and continues to live by the standards,” said Lt. Col. Dave Lander, commander of 1st Battalion, 28th Infantry Regiment. “This award was not a training goal and was not planned, which says that you guys are doing what is right and are brave, responsible and on-point”.
Company B uses a buddy system to reduce incidents one day at a time, said 1st Sgt. Christopher M. Hayner, Company B, 1st Battalion, 28th Infantry Regiment.
The “battle buddy” system consists of everyone having an assigned battle buddy, in which each party needs to know about the other’s whereabouts at all times in case something unexpected happens. Weekly counseling statements are prepared to verify and troubleshoot the Soldiers’ plans.
“We make sure team leaders and squad leaders check on their Soldiers to make sure they are doing the right things, even when no one is looking,” he said.
With the company’s quarterly success, it can begin to focus on its next target—a gold SABER streamer. The gold streamer is the succeeding award that recognizes units that go an entire year without drug- or alcohol-related incidents.
“I have complete faith in my unit to earn the gold SABER streamer”, said Spc. Chris Warren, infantryman, Company B, 1st Battalion, 28th Infantry Regiment. “It will take more discipline to achieve that goal.”
Hayner had nothing but praise for his Soldiers.
“When you have so many guys on a team, it takes every single one of them to represent themselves in a positive way,” said Hayner. “It’s very hard to do this day in age, especially with the growing temptation that sometimes gets the best of you, so I’m proud of my guys for continuing to do the right thing.”