News: 7th ID Soldiers hold situational awareness training in support of SHARP efforts
Story by Staff Sgt. Mark Miranda
JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. – The 7th Infantry Division Sexual Harassment and Assault Response and Prevention program provided training to further develop Soldiers’ ability to support the SHARP program directives of “Intervene, Act, and Motivate.”
The training was focused on teaching Soldiers to apply the mindset of combat situational awareness, to identify potential instances or individuals who may pose a threat as sexual predators. Soldiers from 555th Engineer Brigade and 17th Field Artillery Brigade conducted the training May 13-14.
Facilitated by Orbis Operations on behalf of Dr. Christine Altendorf, Department of the Army SHARP director, SHARP Situational Awareness Training (SAT) works toward changing Soldier behavior from that of “passive bystanders” to individuals empowered and motivated to intervene.
“We can’t identify sexual predators by appearance since they hide in plain sight, but we can pick up on certain behaviors,” said Brian McCoy, vice president, Orbis. “Like terrorists, sexual predators have a step-by-step planning cycle and so we try to identify what Soldiers should be looking for, before an incident can occur.”
Part of the focus was learning human behavior characteristics that should set off red flags in the minds of Soldiers.
“Based on the goals outlined on the SHARP website, what we do is give Soldiers the tools to actually do what it takes to intervene, act and motivate,” McCoy said. “We use terms like ‘Good Shepherd’ – one who recognizes and prevents sexual harassment and assault; and ‘Up Armored Soldier’ – one who’s prepared, alert, assertive, sets clear boundaries and stands his or her ground.”
Beginning with smaller groups, instructors went into segments of training on such topics as perceptions and body language cues. Soldiers learned to spot “anomalies” and, if a few are seen, must choose to intervene, act or motivate based on the warning signs.
“It is very interactive,” said Sgt. 1st Class Dereck Souder, SHARP coordinator for 17th Field Artillery Brigade. “In the small groups, the Soldiers listen to instructors, give feedback and ask questions. We’re learning the basics, teaching Soldiers how to recognize (sexual) predators by looking for a few telltale signs.”
Next, the small groups gathered to watch the instructors role play a situation, and Soldiers provided their commentary on what they had just seen. Discussions followed on intervention techniques such as correcting an offender’s language, gestures and behavior. Demonstrations also recommended ways to de-escalate or stop offensive behavior and to safeguard an intended victim.
“In nature, a predator has a pattern to its behavior, and we want to learn human behavior pattern recognition and analysis,” McCoy said. “Once you see the pattern, you can’t un-see it, it’s there, it’s going to jump out at you.”
The SHARP SAT training encourages Soldiers to get past staying as passive bystanders who stay silent, ignore, enable, or encourage behaviors that could lead to sexual harassment or assault.