'Battle buddies' increase safety while deployed

22 Jan 2011 | Staff Sgt. Jennifer Brofer 1st Marine Logistics Group

Marine Corps leaders continue to stress the importance of utilizing the “buddy system” in order to ensure the safety and accountability of every Marine.

Marines who travel in pairs are less likely to find themselves in vulnerable and unsafe situations.

A “battle buddy” can also help keep a Marine’s decision-making process out of muddy water. And since it’s sometimes difficult for a Marine to tell when letting their guard down can be harmful, having someone by their side at all times, especially while deployed, isn’t such a bad idea.

According to Marine Corps Order 1500.58, the Marine Corps Mentoring Program, “Each Marine is responsible to ensure their buddy lives in accordance with our core values of honor, courage and commitment.”

A “buddy” is someone you know and can trust to look out for you, said Sgt. Maj. Derrick Christovale, sergeant major, Headquarters and Service Company, 1st Marine Logistics Group (Forward). “The buddy system is a program in which a Marine always has someone with them for the purpose of protection, to keep them out of trouble and to keep them safe,” said Christovale, who added utilizing the buddy system is especially important at night because the risk of danger increases.

The buddy system can be applied in garrison and while deployed, and although deployed service members may operate from inside the protective confines of a forward operating base, they shouldn’t take their safety for granted. It’s still important to have a buddy when walking on base, especially at night.

“Just like when you’re in a big city, you have to watch your back,” said Maj. Rhonda Martin, the sexual assault response coordinator for 1st MLG (FWD). “Just because you’re in a combat zone and you think the enemy is outside the gate, there could be some inside, and you need to be aware of that.”

Male and female service members are equally susceptible to attacks and sexual assault, so they should always walk with a buddy, use flashlights and avoid running alone at night, said Martin.

“Even though you may be a strong, independent person, and you may be doing everything correctly and following the rules, someone else may not be,” said Martin, who encouraged sexual assault victims to seek help with their Uniform Victim Advocate, chaplain or a medical professional.

Although 1st MLG (FWD) is nearing the end of its deployment, Christovale reminds all Marines and sailors that they need to keep their focus on the mission and continue to look out for their fellow service members.

“Everyone’s starting to think about home, and anxiety is starting to kick in and we start to lose focus on the big picture instead of keeping that wide range of focus on their Marines at all times to their left and to their right,” said Christovale, 46, from Detroit. “Just getting all the Marines back home safely is the main goal.”

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