In the past two weeks, the Army has began a pilot program designed to educate, influence and monitor Soldiers about the importance of proper physical activity, nutrition and sleep in an effort to enhance their overall performance and ensure their readiness and resilience.
Three units were selected to participate in the program — one at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., one at Fort Bliss, Texas and the 189th Combat Service Support Battalion here at Fort Bragg.
The 189th CSSB kicked off its participation in the Performance Triad by incorporating it into its annual organization day. According to Lt. Col. Theodore O. White, battalion commander, the unit couldn’t have asked for a better day.
“We were very deliberate on the selection of this day because it was a teacher’s workday for Cumberland County Schools and the Family members can really participate, especially the kids because they don’t have to go to school. That’s always been the challenge. We wanted to do it during the summer time, but not everyone is acclimated to the weather. It’s kind of hot, so we chose a teacher’s workday to host the battalion Family day.”
White said the day also provided an opportunity for the staff of the Wellness Center and some of the other agencies on Fort Bragg that are supporting the Performance Triad to interact with Family members and let them know what the program is about. That way, they can support the Soldiers as we go on this pilot program that really is about changing behaviors,” White said.
Barbara Ryan, training education communication lead at the Army Surgeon General’s office in the Defense Health Headquarters in Falls Church, Va. was at Fort Bragg to observe the 189th CSSB’s kickoff event.
“The Army Performance Triad is an Army program. Through Forces Command, three units were chosen — one at JBLM, one at Fort Bliss and one here — to represent the diversity of military occupational specialties, and of who makes up the Army,” Ryan said.
She explained that demographics play a big part in getting proper feedback from the pilot program, as three units, representing the combat arms, combat support and combat service support fields within the Army.
White said it was important to him and a lot of the Soldiers that the 189th CSSB was one of only three units in the Army selected to participate in the Performance Triad.
“When the Army made its decision about which types of units they wanted to select, they wanted to go with a combat arms, a combat support and a combat service support unit, and the demographics of the Soldiers within those units as you really move from the frontline to the rear, it changes dramatically,” he said. “I wanted to put the battalion up because at the end of the day, it’s all about helping Soldiers and making them better.”
White also explained that in the past, physical education programs were a part of the school curriculum and it included information about the four food groups and the importance of physical activity.
“A lot of that stuff has gone by the wayside and now if you’re not involved in a sport, you’re really not getting a lot of physical activity at school,” he said. “Back then, (Physical Education) was a class and it was something that we looked forward to and did on a regular basis. Now times have changed and a lot of students do not participate in things because they cost money and not everyone can afford to do those things.”
White explained that the Performance Triad is not only about physical activity, proper nutrition and sleep, but it also entails being properly educated about the importance of those factors.
“A lot of Soldiers just don’t know. They don’t know how to eat right or healthy and how to make those choices. It’s a lot easier for them to grab something that’s processed off the shelves than it is to actually sit down and prepare a meal,” he said.
He added that he is glad that his battalion was selected to participate in the program.
“We see the Performance Triad as a key enabler for the Ready and Resilient Campaign. It includes the three pillars: activity, nutrition and sleep. We understand that if you do one or two of them well, you’ll probably perform. But if you can get the right amount of sleep, if you eat the right things and if you move more and sit less, it will raise your readiness and resilience,” Ryan explained.
She said that so far, the program looks to be a success.
“We don’t believe it’s going to be a complete 180-degree turn, but we do believe that if we share our knowledge and create behavior and eventually culture change in the Army about health and wellness, we will see a significant change,” she said.
“If we can help 10 percent of the troopers to make a systemic change and a change in behavior, then I think we’ll be successful,” White added.