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Feature | Dec. 10, 2013

Army promotes accountability, camaraderie through 'battle buddy' program

By Staff Sgt. Ciara Wymbs 633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

Being alone can be difficult, particularly during the holiday season when many have more time to spend with loved ones. For some Service members, having a "battle buddy" can make the holidays more manageable.

From a seasoned Soldier to a new student arriving at Advanced Individual Training, the "battle buddy" system, as outlined in U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command regulation 350-6, establishes policy for pairing Soldiers into teams to teach teamwork, develop a sense of responsibility and accountability for fellow Soldiers, improve safety and reduce the likelihood of misconduct.
 
U.S. Army Command Sgt. Maj. Estevan Sotorosado, 1st Battalion, 222nd Aviation Regiment command sergeant major, said the system is important because it holds battle buddies accountable and helps promote camaraderie, espcially during the holiday season when Soldiers might not be able to make it home for the holidays. 

Sotorosado has watched the battle buddy system evolve over the years.

"When I was a drill sergeant here, the battle buddy system was not enforced like it is today," said Sotorosado. "Now, it has changed to be 24/7, and has a positive effect [on decisions Soldiers make]."

For Philippine-native Spc. James-Ivan Valencia, 359th Inland Cargo Transfer Company cargo specialist, the battle buddy system means having someone who also understands him on a personal level.

Valencia said having a battle buddy from the Philippines plays a big part in motivation. Valencia, who came to the U.S. in 2007, met his battle buddy in 2010 during AIT, and said it is good to have someone to associate with because it's always someone there to watch his back.

"On the weekends we get together and cook Filipino food and hang out," said Valencia. "We get together and talk about back home and share stories of the island."

According to Sotorosado, the battle buddy program is also a unique opportunity for Soldiers to look out for each other. With the number of suicides and sexual harassments, the battle buddy system can be a means for prevention.

"It is like having [comeone who's] going to be there to make sure the Soldier does the right thing," said Sotorosado. "With a lot of the current issues it is important to have that."
 
Whether sharing holiday traditions to bring comfort while away from home, providing a support system or promoting safety in numbers, the battle buddy concept provides Soldiers a level of reassurance to know there is always someone there.