CAMP H.M. SMITH, Hawaii --
“Safety is Everyone’s Responsibility” stands as the theme for this year’s U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Pacific Ground Safety Manager’s Conference.
The 10th annual conference, held Feb. 3rd-6th at Camp H.M. Smith’s Sunset Lanai, brings together safety officers from around the Corps to discuss safety concerns and share new programs to combat current safety issues prevalent among Marines today.
“Some of the things I’m trying to do here at MarForPac are to make sure that the Commanding Officer and Commanders have the appropriate [programs] on safety issues that I use,” said Lt.Gen. Keith Stalder, Commanding General, MarForPac, during the opening remarks of the safety conference.
Mr. Keith Glavac, Ground Safety Manager, MarForPac, said this year’s conference held the largest attendance ever with 57 attendees, including Headquarters Marine Corps Safety Division, the Naval Safety Center, guest speakers from the National Safety Council and all base/station safety managers and unit safety officers down to the regimental level.
Glavac said the conference was created to share ideas throughout the MarForPac subordinate command with the intention of exchanging the best safety practices.
“We share ideas and go over the formal taskings from the Executive Safety Board which is chaired by the [Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps],” Glavac said. “To have the base, the supporting organization, and the supported organization of the base, the operating forces, together in one room across all of MarForPac and its supporting commands is truly beneficial in sharing ideas and helping coordination from higher headquarters.”
He said coordination is greatly simplified with representatives from each approval chain present, making it easier for ideas to be supported and tasks to be completed.
“By having Headquarters Marine Corps here, sometimes we can get specific guidance like, ‘Ok, let’s push this up to higher headquarters for approval,” Glavac said. “The people in this conference can really get a lot accomplished right here and [issues] made ready to be pushed out to their commander formally.”
Lieutenant Colonel Mike Miller, Marine Corps Ground Safety Officer, Headquarters Marine Corps, said he attended the conference to represent and discuss Marine Corps wide initiatives.
“We [at HQMC] routinely meet with both West Coast and Pacific Safety program managers so we can inform everybody about new policies, decisions or programs that are being developed at the Pentagon, and the applicability,” said Miller. “It’s a chance for us to better understand the issues that exist here at Marine Forces, Pacific.”
Glavac said traffic safety is the core of new programs and training brought to the conference this year for the Marine Corps to implement in the near future. Traffic safety, including motor vehicles and motorcycles, has become the number one focus due to the high fatality rates of Marines in traffic accidents.
“In fiscal year 2008, MarForPac [had] the lowest on duty fatal mishap occurrence as well as the lowest off duty fatal mishap occurrence … unfortunately the motorcycle mishaps are the highest they’ve been in years,” Glavac said. “Last year we lost 8 marines to four-wheel traffic motor vehicle accidents and we lost 10 Marines to motorcycle accidents.”
Recently, Headquarters Marine Corps contracted the company Cape Fox to teach traffic safety at the base level and implement driver improvement courses, Glavac said. Other programs and opportunities to improve Marine’s driving skills, such as training motorcycles as well as both car and motorcycle simulators, are continually being searched and reviewed in hopes of diminishing traffic accident fatalities.
Other programs and training included in the conference addressed subjects such as fatality de-briefing, operation safety management, ground safety for Marines and Operation Iraqi Freedom/Operation Enduring Freedom Safety.
“Coming to these conferences, you can see what Headquarters Marine Corps Safety division way ahead is – what they’re focusing on,” said Lance Robinson, former Deputy Director, I Marine Expeditionary Force, during the safety conference.
Attending the conference previously as an enlisted Marine, Robinson participated this year for the first time as a civilian. He said he was glad to see what funding and training packages are being put into programs by Headquarters Marine Corps like the Tactical Safety Specialist Program.
“Especially as a civilian, [its] good to see how my education and training is going to be paid for so I can progress in my career and be better effective for the Marine Corps,” Robinson said.
Robinson said the safety conference is also a chance for the operational unit to be involved in the implementation and creation of new programs and to give HQMC Safety Division feedback to their ideas from an operational aspect
“The interaction from [HQMC] - getting to talk to the ground guys - makes a better safety program I think,” Robinson said
The highlight of the conference for Miller was the Operation Iraqi Freedom brief from Scott Martin, Director of Safety for I MEF (FWD), Iraq, during I MEF’s last rotation. Having held Martin’s position two years ago, Miller said it was interesting to hear how things had changed over the past 24 months since his last deployment.
“[The Ground Safety Managers Conference] is particularly valuable for safety managers and safety professionals who may be themselves deploying to Iraq or Afghanistan in the future to learn about issues, techniques, tactics, procedures … that they don’t face here,” Miller said.
During the final day of the conference, Glavac said he was impressed by how much was accomplished within the four days and was very thankful for the support from all attendees saying, “I think this is one of the most successful safety conferences we’ve had, due to the level of participation from all of our subordinate commands.”