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Campaign to Zero tests training, gets results

Holding up glow sticks to represent sexual assault victims they know, technical school Airmen listen to remarks from Col. George Tombe, 81st Training Group commander, before the third “Campaign to Zero” event takes place Dec. 4, 2014, at the Vandenberg Commons, Keesler Air Force Base, Miss. More than 800 students attended the event. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Duncan McElroy/Released)

Holding up glow sticks to represent sexual assault victims they know, technical school Airmen listen to remarks from Col. George Tombe, 81st Training Group commander, before the third “Campaign to Zero” event takes place Dec. 4, 2014, at the Vandenberg Commons, Keesler Air Force Base, Miss. More than 800 students attended the event. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Duncan McElroy/Released)

KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. -- The 81st Training Group held its third "Campaign to Zero" Dec. 4, at the Vandenberg Community Center and Levitow Training Support Facility.

Staged as an "evening of decompression" for good behavior, more than 800 technical school Airmen attended to dance, watch movies, play pool, and stay up late. However, unbeknownst to the partygoers, the true purpose was to put their training to the test.

"Campaign to Zero" is a live-fire style exercise created in conjunction with the Airman Development Program, Airman Against Drunk Driving, security forces, chaplain's office, Sexual Assault Prevention Response office, and Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention and Treatment Program, explained Col. George Tombe, 81st TRG commander.

It's an event to help measure the effectiveness of the training Airmen receive in basic military training and technical school to combat sexual assault and alcohol-related incidents.

The evening featured booths where technical school Airmen could get information about ADAPT, AADD and SAPR, as well as scenarios acted out by permanent party volunteers blending in as students.  The scenarios were developed to encourage positive bystander intervention, and allow the Airmen to put their training into practice.

Simulated scenarios including underage drinking, overdrinking and unwanted sexual advances and took place at both locations. One such scenario involved a female volunteer on the dance floor with her friend, and a male volunteer repeatedly attempting to dance with and hold her, despite being turned down.

"This event allows us to assess how our Airmen respond to these scenarios, and see if the training we provide is actually working or if we need to adjust it to be more effective," said Senior Master Sgt. Heather Moody, Mathies NCO Academy director of education and "Campaign to Zero" lead coordinator.

A few days after the event, the Airmen and training group leadership will participate in a "hot wash," which is an open forum to discuss the scenarios, give feedback to improve future events, and recognize the Airmen that intervened during the course of the party.

With events like this, the training group is trying to create an ongoing culture of responsible decision making for all issues an Airman may face, without regard to the specific type of issue, said Tombe.

"Since starting the Airman Development Program that "Campaign to Zero" is a big part of, non-academic discharges are down 86 percent, underage drinking is down 80 percent, alcohol-related incidents down 60 percent, and reports of sexual assaults down 23 percent," said Tombe. "Keesler used to be the number one place for Article 15s and UCMJ punishments - we aren't anymore."