Making everyones safety his business
By Capt. Luis Barber
Sarajevo - Falling under CJ3 Provost Marshal is the Safety Officer. Gary Spegal, an active member of the United States Army Reserves, is responsible for this position in HQ SFOR.
This man is the principal staff advisor of the commanders on accident prevention procedures and risk management, and also is in charge of managing the Theatre Safety Campaign.
Spegal is a helicopter instructor and pilot. He achieved the rank of Lieutenant Colonel and received a lot of safety training in the Army. From 1995, when he was assigned to the Army Safety Program in the United States, he has devoted his life to safety.
From that year, he has served in the Balkans through four tours, always being assigned to positions related to safety. He has also experience working as a Safety Officer in the Republic of Egypt.
In his first tour in Bosnia, he worked on a Lessons Learned document about safety. This was significant due to the new situation that troops had to face. It would be used to facilitate future Peacekeeping Operations from the safety point of view.
Perhaps nobody can be better than this former lieutenant colonel for giving advice for driving during the next winter.
"If you stop for a couple of minutes and get out and clean your windows and lights. Then youll see and be seen," he said. Also, he said that it is a proven fact the seat belts save lives and drivers must never accept any unnecessary risk.
In his daily work he makes the Road Traffic Accident analysis to identify high-risk areas and also to develop countermeasures to help reduce accident rates. With the Operations Non-commissioned Officer, Irish Sgt. David Murphy and the help of CJ3 Meteorology, studies on the impact of weather in accident trends can be made.
He is also responsible for carrying out safety education.
"Safety education usually takes the form of mentorship programs and working groups. Safety is a command responsibility, but many nations deal with safety concerns in many different ways," said Spegal.
It is necessary to know that SFOR has a Standing Operating Procedure (SOP) related to Safety. This is SOP 3602, and is updated by Spegal.
"I use this document to help the Divisions and Theatre Troops to develop their own, comprehensive safety programs. The SOP is directive in nature, but leaves the specifics up to the different national contingents," he explained. "I visit them with the different headquarters elements and help them out as much as possible. I also share information between Headquarters so that they can contact each other for assistance and information exchange."
The information they provide is distributed by means of conferences, meeting and the monthly Provost Marshal Bulletin to commanders.
Some promotional material is also used for sending safety information and suggestions to SFOR members.
"It takes many forms. The most common are the posters that everyone sees. But I encourage each Division to develop promotional material using their specific soldiers and equipment because that makes the information more relevant within their division," he said. "We have the example of the United Kingdom Battle Group with its computer based drivers' training program which is used quite successfully."
The winter campaign for this year has been initiated with a letter from COMSFOR to the commanders emphasising the safety program. It was followed by specific information about winter driving hazards in the bulletin to commanders.
"The senior military member in the vehicle is more responsible for the safe operation than even the driver. Stay always alert," he recommended.