Pentagon officials recognized leaders from the Army’s XVIII Airborne Corps this week for their commitment to fostering a culture of safety aligned with the Defense Department’s top priority of taking care of those who serve.

Peter I. Belk, performing the duties of assistant secretary of defense for readiness, traveled to Fort Liberty, North Carolina, to present the Army Exceptional Organization Safety Award to the 3rd Infantry, XVIII Airborne for its significant contributions to risk mitigation, accident prevention and hazard control.

Army Lt. Gen. Christopher T. Donahue, commanding general and senior mission commander of the XVIII Airborne Corps, received the award alongside Cory Kroll, the deputy safety director for Fort Liberty.

Belk also recognized individual contributors to the unit’s safety program success by presenting the Army Individual Award for Excellence in Safety to Granville D. Shrader and John M. Billiar, both Army civilians at XVIII Airborne Corps components.

“I commend Lt. Gen. Donahue and the entire XVIII Airborne Corps team for their outstanding contributions to ensure the safety and well-being of their personnel while accomplishing their mission,” Belk said. “Their hard work, dedication and professionalism have helped to foster a culture of safety that will yield safe and healthy workplaces for current and future personnel.”

Belk added that promoting a culture of safety throughout the department is a key component of Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin’s “Taking Care of Our Service Members and Families” initiative.

In addition to emphasizing safety, Austin’s focus on the force includes efforts to promote health and wellness as well as financial security and support for military families through child care and spousal support initiatives.

Taking care of the force has been among Austin’s top priorities throughout his tenure, and Belk said senior officials will continue to promote safety and readiness across the force.  

“We are driving an increased appreciation of strategic readiness across the department, which includes means to build, maintain and balance our warfighting advantages,” Belk said. “It is essential that we highlight great leaders like Lt. Gen. Donahue who demonstrate a tangible commitment to safety.” 

Belk’s visit to Fort Liberty, which also included round table discussions with component unit leaders, is expected to be the first in a series of engagements to emphasize the importance of safety and recognize leaders for their commitment to ensuring safety remains a core value.

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