Thoughts from the Running Trail

As leaders in CJTF – HOA, the safety of our warriors is always on my and SgtMaj’s mind.  The temperature is starting to warm up with longer and brighter days and everyone needs to be prepared to manage the silent threat that is glaring all of us in the face.

The fact is, keeping our teammates focused operationally by taking the proper precautions is vital against a number of UV risks.  Being so close to the equator, the sun’s harsh rays can affect our eyes causing prolonged vision issues, weaken our immunity system, and damage our skin.  Keeping something as powerful as the sun from taking us out of the fight is crucial in our mission effectiveness.  In efforts to protect our most valuable weapons, our troops, we must be mindful of the medications that are being taken because some, like anti-malarial medication, increase our sensitivity to the sun.

Leaders must communicate effectively to their sections that 10:00-14:00 is when the sun is most dangerous, whether it is cloudy or not.  Leaders take care of your juniors and juniors take care of your leaders by conducting proper pre combat checks (PCCs) and pre combat inspections (PCIs).  During these checks you should inspect that the SPF of sunscreen being used is 15 or higher and that eye protection offers 99-100 percent UV protection.  Even if you are not going on a mission, you must ensure that you and your brother and sisters in arms are wearing proper personal protective equipment (PPE) by keeping your head on a swivel for long sleeves, covers/boonies, and hydration systems.

Three words to recite; hydrate, hydrate, and hydrate.  The extreme heat and direct contact with the sun dehydrates our body at a rapid rate.  Be cognizant of the hydration posters on camp that advise how much water to drink per hour depending on the temperature and activity level.  Dehydration can lead to overheating, heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and most severe – heat stroke.

The easiest way to stay focused and influence those around you is to lead by example.  Ensure that you are consistently drinking water, regularly eat meals that contain the proper nutrients, and rest.  Every service member here is an asset we need in the fight that we do not want to lose.  We don’t just lead from the front, we lead from beside, behind and below also, so monitor your battle buddies for signs and symptoms of dehydration and take immediate action before becoming a heat casualty.  Refer to the heat injury prevention pocket guide and for more information, the HOA NIPR Safety Portal.

As guests here in Djibouti and throughout our AOR, we must continue to be ambassadors by adhering to safe driving.  Maintain the speed limit, both on and off camp.  Ensure that you can see as much as you can by staying alert of what is around you.  Identify, assess, and control the numerous driving hazards that you might encounter.  Wear your seat belt, use ground guides when needed, keep an eye out for motorist, people, potholes, drop-offs, and road washouts.  If you get into an accident, use the service values all of us adhere to: honor, courage, commitment, integrity, and personal courage to report it.

Bottom line upfront (BLUF) safety is paramount at every level.  It takes engaged leadership.  We all need to continuously focus on safety as every teammate counts.  When one is affected, we are all affected, and it takes away from mission readiness.

As a team, let’s attack this issue together because that is who we are… that is what we do…Ubuntu!

We'll see you on the running trail...

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Leadership Commander Senior Enlisted Leader