News: JCOC comes to JBLM
Story by Sgt. Kimberly Lessmeister
JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash., – The sound of radio chatter could be heard through loudspeakers as the soldiers in Strykers prepared to assault their objective.
Sitting on bleachers not far from the action, a group of civilian spectators watched as the infantry unit used military tactics to take out the simulated enemy.
The live-fire demonstration was the closest thing to a military maneuver that any of the viewers had ever seen up close.
Soldiers of 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division and other brigades here, demonstrated their units’ capabilities to 39 civilians during the 84th Joint Civilian Orientation Conference.
The JCOC is a Secretary of Defense program that takes leaders in business, local government, non-profit, education, and healthcare from around the country and introduces them to the military and educates them about the Department of Defense.
“There’s a bit of a gap between our civilian culture and our military culture,” said Rene Bardorf, the deputy assistant Secretary of Defense for community and public outreach. “We think that this sensitizes people to the challenges and also the sacrifices of our service members and their families.”
Throughout the day, the JCOC participants viewed static displays of multiple military vehicles at several different stations.
At each station, the visitors were able to ask questions about the equipment; however, they often ended up asking questions about the soldiers.
“This gives them the opportunity to really get personal with not only the equipment, but especially the men that are working the things that we’re showing them today and throughout the military,” said Staff Sgt. Bryan McMahon, a platoon sergeant with 2nd Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 4th SBCT, 2nd Inf. Div.
McMahon, who’s been in the military eight years, escorted a group of JCOC observers and shared information about himself as well as the military.
“For me, it’s my opportunity … to say ‘Hey I’m proud of what I do and I want you guys to know I’m proud of what I do,” said McMahon, a Woburn, Mass., native. “It’s the first time I get to talk about my life as a soldier and how we train.”
For Karl Dean, the mayor of Nashville, Tenn., and a participant of the JCOC, the experience was a “once in a lifetime opportunity.”
“I think the biggest thing I’ve taken from this trip is …. just the commitment and the energy and enthusiasm of the troops,” he said. “It really gives you a sense of optimism and a sense of pride in the armed service.”
JBLM was the group’s fourth stop on the five-day tour of military bases.