What is accountability? An obligation imposed by law, lawful order, or regulation of an officer or other person of authority for keeping accurate record of property, documents, or funds is the best answer I can think of. Now the person having this obligation may or may not have actual possession of an item they are accountable for, sensitive item. Accountability is concerned primarily with records, while responsibility is concerned primarily with custody, care, and safekeeping. What does accountability mean to the Army? Accountability is a very important part of an enlisted soldier’s job. An enlisted soldier is responsible for a lot of items issued to him/her whether it’s a weapon, night vision goggles, clothing that belongs to CIF, a vehicle, or from a leader’s aspect another person. Another person is the most sensitive item to be responsible for. That is why every work day leaders start the day with an accountability check; because they are responsible for their soldier(s).
Sensitive items, or SI, can also be identifies as anything that is mission essential, or classified material. These items can include protective gear, maps, or a simple piece of paper with a patrol route or guard schedule. The importance of securing sensitive items comes down to maintaining several things such as operation security, mission success, readiness, and over all else, soldier’s well-being. The habits of exercising security and accountability of a soldier’s item allow the soldier and their team to operate to the highest standards, and keep the enemy form gaining any advantage and hindering our mission, or placing soldiers in danger. For example in Afghanistan we have the upper hand at night because of our night vision capabilities. It is for that reason that we can’t leave night vision goggles unsecured because they would allow the enemy to stand toe to toe with us and fight at night.
Each person is responsible for exercising reasonable and effective actions to properly care, store, safeguard and use any and all items presented to them whether it be issued or acquired through personal expense. Taking the time to either store items in a secure location such as a locker or independent room that is secured and solely accessed by the owner of the stored items. Placing care of items to trusted members of your unit is also considered safeguarding items of value but trust should not always be put into everyone within a unit for storage. History shows us that there are always snakes around to bring us down. Not all incidents involving loss of sensitive items involve theft however. Sometimes people not maintaining their equipment or not utilizing proper storage procedures are the cause of the loss of sensitive items. Theft due to improper accountability of sensitive items is also a cause of loss of equipment. In some cases a wrongful accountability of equipment can cause it to fall into the wrong hands.
Accountability and properly securing of sensitive items allow even the smallest items at a personal level aid in support of a mission’s success. Allowing any amount of sensitive items to be missing can be degrading to mission success and small amounts of information or equipment can be pieced together to form a much larger picture. This decreases the ability and function a particular units mission capabilities in the form of an adversary knowing information that compromises a missions directive or capabilities. Furthermore unsecured sensitive items lead to problems starting at a personal performance level. Although people are trained to adapt and overcome situations that may leave them in the dark without proper equipment, that type of situation should not be due to a person’s inadequate accountability or improper storage of sensitive items. Maintaining proper accountability and storage habits of sensitive items allows all personnel to maintain operational security on a personal level. In doing so it also allows high cost or...
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