MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C.-- -- Family Readiness Officers from II Marine Expeditionary Force gathered at Marston Pavilion March 9, to put a new emphasis on old policies. With 65 percent of II MEF back from combat tours in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and the rest slated to return shortly, “family readiness” has taken a new tone to address stateside issues.
“Normally, our meetings have a broader context,” began Lt. Col. Robert C. Michaud, II MEF FRO. “This meeting deals more with what could be called force preservation issues,” he said.
The motivation to reiterate force preservation and emphasize the practice of safety training is a proactive step to rededicate Corps-wide efforts to reduce mishaps by 70 percent before fiscal year 2008, said Michaud.
A presentation given by Lt. Col. Mike Miller, Deputy II MEF safety officer, reflected a sobering statistical analysis - 27 II MEF Marines have died in vehicle-related deaths since the beginning of the fiscal year in October.
Miller continued to say at the current rate, with a little more than half of the fiscal year ahead, 2006 could have higher numbers than each of the past five years.
Miller emphasized that while service members may overlook the inherent risks of operating a car, truck or motorcycle, nothing about safety is cliché.
“It’s beyond saying ‘you’ll put an eye out,’” he added. “This is about mitigating the severity of hazards by using (Operational Risk Management).”
ORM consists of identifying the hazard, assessing the risk, making risk decisions, implementing controls, and supervising, said Miller.
“According to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration statistics, every motor vehicle operator will get into a significant collision every fourteen years,” said Miller, pointing out that 42 percent more fatal crashes occur in rural than urban areas, highlighting Camp Lejeune.
Miller pointed out that it’s not always a life that’s on the line when it comes to vehicle crashes. Other repercussions of unsafe driving include citations, property damage, physical disability, and an expensive or embarrassing legal process.
“It’s easy to have no (driving under the influence) charges or speeding tickets when you’re in Iraq,” said II MEF commanding general, Lt. Gen. James F. Amos. “In the rear, it’s something quite different.”
The FROs of II MEF are fighting the statistics with an aggressive force preservation campaign which includes workshops, lectures and mentorship programs designed to make safe practices a stronghold within the Marine Corps down to the small unit level. By spreading education throughout the Corps, unsafe practices can be mitigated, said Miller.
Campaigns are ongoing throughout the units within II MEF. Any service member or concerned party can learn more about the MC fight against vehicular deaths by contacting the Marine Corps Community Services safety division at (910) 451-5725.