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    Fort McCoy’s new installation safety manager brings wealth of experience to position

    Fort McCoy Installation Safety Office holds facility inspection

    Photo By Scott Sturkol | Installation Safety Manager Edson De Leon and Safety Specialist Dale Marsolek with the...... read more read more



    Courtesy Story

    Fort McCoy Public Affairs Office           

    Fort McCoy’s new Installation Safety Manager Edson De Leon began his duties in July and hasn’t looked back.

    De Leon arrived at Fort McCoy from Fort Liberty (formerly Fort Bragg), N.C., where he had served in several safety-related positions. They included with the 525th Battlefield Surveillance Brigade (XVIII [18th] Airborne Corps) from April 2009 to March 2014; 20th Engineer Brigade Safety (XVIII Airborne Corps) from April 2014 to October 2015; and 406th Army Field Support Brigade safety manager from November 2015 to June 2023.

    De Leon is also a retired Army infantry sergeant major, serving from 1989 to 2009. He said he has served in airborne infantry, the Jungle Operations Training Center at Fort Sherman in Panama, with the 2nd Infantry Division in South Korea; and he’s a graduate of Class 57 of the Sergeants Major Academy at Fort Bliss, Texas.

    Like his predecessor, De Leon said his military experience does contribute to his philosophy about safety.

    “The military has inherent risks in their operations,” De Leon said. “At home station, paratroopers will conduct night airborne operations in combat equipment where brigade-size elements will parachute into unfamiliar drop zones spotted with heavy drop equipment, such as Humvees, M109 Howitzers, fuel blivits, equipment bundles, and more. The M109 Howitzers will de-rigger and fire live rounds right from the drop zone.

    “Infantryman will conduct close-quarters combat operations using live rounds during limited visibility using only their night-vision goggles to see,” De Leon said. “Live-fire missions require hours, days, and even weeks of training to coordinate the various components of an operation — a security force, a breaching team, and assault force, a quick reaction force, an exploitation team, a demolition team, and others. Having experienced this in both training and during combat operations, safety becomes an imperative.

    “Safety works horizontally, it exists in everything we do,” De Leon said. “Because the military has so many unique operations, and we often conduct these operations multiple times over multiple iterations, safety becomes and intuitive response in the face of high-risk operations.”

    De Leon also shared his vision for the safety program at Fort McCoy as he moves forward.

    “I’ve never believed that safety is a ‘gotcha’ program,” De Leon said. “By that, I don’t expect the Installation Safety Office (ISO) to come into a workplace, find safety hazards, annotate it on a checklist, and leave that checklist with the workplace supervisor/manager. Rather, my vision is that safety is a collaborative effort of the ISO working with employees, supervisors, and managers to see what right looks like, share the reasoning behind it, and work in conjunction with the team to mitigate or remove workplace hazards. This helps foster a safety culture where employees are involved in keeping their areas safe from the inherent hazards of the workplace.”

    De Leon said he knows he joined an already successful safety team and has personnel who are well skilled in the program. He described what else he plans build on.

    “The U.S. Army Combat Readiness Center has developed the Army Safety Management Information System 2.0 (ASMIS 2.0),” De Leon said. “This is a repository of safety incident reporting, inspection surveys, education, and training that analyzes organizational inputs that allows commanders to better see themselves from a safety program perspective. ASMIS uses the data inputted by organizations to develop metrics that can be tailored to an organization’s need.

    “Safety is more than just recording accidents,” De Leon said. “Accident data is a lagging indicator and ideally, we want to focus on leading indicators identifying potential gaps in safety program execution. In order to do this with an organization this large and diverse, training and enabling the unit safety officers (USOs) to work within their directorates will aid in giving the commander a 360-degree safety view of the organization. Where all of this used to be done through various self-built spreadsheets, ASMIS aims to create a central area where the data can be stored and analyzed. Feeding AMSIS the necessary data is the collaborative mission that the ISO will manage.”

    And De Leon discussed why should everyone remember safety in everything they do, particularly in the Army.

    “My answer to that would be this — who wants to be injured or hurt?” De Leon said. “You don’t know what the level of injury will be or how severe the accident will be. I know that many of us has been in a ‘close-call’ situation where the difference between injury and no injury came down to a matter of feet or inches or even seconds or minutes. The very definition of an accident is an ‘unexpected’ event. If you don’t expect the accident to happen, then you don’t control in the severity of the outcome.

    “In the Army, we must accept risk but accepting risk doesn’t mean it will lead to an undesirable outcome,” De Leon said. “This comes down to acceptable risk and non-acceptable risk. Take an airborne operation — this is a high-risk operation, but measures have been implemented where the risk is acceptable. Prior to exiting from the aircraft, paratroopers conduct sustain airborne training, they execute mock-door procedures, they practice parachute landing falls from each of the four possible directions of landing, they wear a ballistic helmet to protect their head, they wear hearing protection to minimize the sounds inside the aircraft, they’re outfitted with a main parachute and a reserve parachute, each paratrooper is jumpmaster personnel inspection’d, the jumpmaster team and the aircraft aircrew conduct a mission crew brief before departure, there’s a drop zone safety team on the drop zone itself that measure winds and unsafe conditions on the drop zone and has the ability to cancel a drop — all of these are mitigating actions that downgrade the risk into the acceptable area.”

    But De Leon said he is glad to be a part of the Fort McCoy team, and he looks forward to the future.

    “My previous duty positions prepared me to join the Fort McCoy team,” De Leon said. “The safety manager position requires a jack-of-all trades, and my experience in the tactical realm and the industrial base will help in the management of this safety program. I originally planned on retiring in this area in about six to seven years, but when the position became available, I felt very fortunate to be selected to follow what Randy Eddy built. I am blessed to be part of a great team and grow my roots in a place where I planned on retiring at much farther down the road.”

    Learn more about Fort McCoy online at, on the Defense Visual Information Distribution System at, on Facebook by searching “ftmccoy,” and on Twitter by searching “usagmccoy.”

    Also try downloading the Digital Garrison app to your smartphone and set “Fort McCoy” or another installation as your preferred base.

    (Article prepared by the Fort McCoy Public Affairs Office and the Fort McCoy Installation Safety Office.)



    Date Taken: 09.19.2023
    Date Posted: 09.19.2023 01:25
    Story ID: 453715
    Location: FORT MCCOY, WI, US

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