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Hooah!

By: Tammy Carnrike

Chamber COO Tammy Carnrike participated in the Joint Civilian Orientation Conference (JCOC), a program sponsored by the Secretary of Defense for civilian public opinion leaders interested in growing their knowledge of the military and national defense issues. JCOC is the oldest existing Department of Defense outreach program having been held more than 81 times since its inception in 1948. Tammy spent five days in the Western U.S. visiting each branch of the U.S. military and learning about the readiness of the armed forces and our nation’s defense policies.

Day four was spent with the army and what a day it was. I was specifically excited for this day because it was my Army friends at TACOM that nominated me for the JCOC experience.

We left San Diego and flew to Seattle to visit Join Base Lewis McChord, a joint Air Force and Army base.

Upon arrival and being greeted by Lt. General Thomas Brown, we put on protective body gear and were taken to watch a live fire demonstration. Here, tanks and infantrymen showed their skills in leadership, teamwork and strategy in battlefield engagement.

Then came the part we had been looking forward to all week — eating MRE’s (meals ready to eat) for lunch. I’ve always heard about the field meals for soldiers and I had an expectation that they would be cold and tasteless. I was wrong. My pack included beef, ravioli, cheese and crackers, oatmeal, a cookie, orange drink, coffee and a pop tart. 

 

There is a bag with a heating element in the bottom and you pour a small amount of water into it for activation. You simply add your main meal and set it aside to heat while you enjoy the rest of your snacks. It was delicious! The average MRE has between 2,000 and 4,000 calories and is full of protein and other essentials. After wearing heavy body gear during all of these physical activities, you understand the need for these nutritious meals.

We spent the afternoon learning about the many capabilities the Army has from heavy equipment to build roads and demolish buildings to laundry facilities that wash 750 lbs. of laundry at one time. It was all very impressive.

 

To break up the afternoon with some interactive experience, we were taken to a shooting range where I learned the power of an M4 rifle.

At that point, we had been in the hot son atop a mountain in heavy body gear all day. This made us realize the hardships that our troops have to endure.

With our full body gear on, it was time to board a Stryker to travel to a team training course. Standing through the roof hatch, observing soldiers operate the the Stryker functions traveling along the road alongside five other Stryker tanks was an amazing experience.

At the team training course, Team Army was able to complete the challenge given to them in less than 30 minutes. We then received an evaluation of our work from a team of lieutenants and sergeants.

Lt. General Brown hosted us for a salmon bake and a presentation on the importance of leadership. The Lt. General speaks regularly on leadership nationally and internationally including the Blanchard Forum.

It was another long, exhausting day but I learned so much about the strength and depth of our Army. These soldiers are dedicated, strong and talented on many levels. A majority of them are between the ages of 19 and 29 with experience and expectations beyond my understanding. Like the other services I visited this week, the soldiers love what they do.