Special Operations Troops Impress Visiting Civilian Leaders
By Sgt. Sara Wood, USA
American Forces Press Service
STUTTGART, Germany, Oct. 19, 2005 Business professionals traveling with the Joint Civilian Orientation Conference expressed pride and confidence in U.S. troops after meeting with U.S. special operations forces at Panzer Kaserne Range Complex here Oct. 18.
William Transier, co-chief executive officer and director, Endeavour International Corporation, Houston, gets help from a Navy special operations force member on firing the M-4 semiautomatic machine gun during the Joint Civilian Orientation Conference at Stuttgart Army Airfield, Germany, Oct. 18. Photo by Staff Sgt. Suzanne M. Day, USAF
(Click photo for screen-resolution image)
"You see these guys and you think, 'How could we ever have a chance of losing?'" said Joel Cantor, president and chief executive officer of Gulf Atlantic Real Estate, in Tampa, Fla. Cantor said he was amazed by the bravery of the troops, many of whom had served in Iraq and expressed a desire to go back and finish the job there.
Conference participants spent the day with soldiers and sailors of the Army's 1st Battalion, 10th Special Forces Group, and Naval Special Warfare Unit 2. They talked with the troops over lunch, then interacted with them during a live-fire weapons demonstration and static displays of equipment. Many of the civilians said they appreciated the opportunity to talk with the troops and get to know them.
"People don't see soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines typically as people; they see them as combatants," said Peter Young, director of Hawaii's Department of Land and Natural Resources, in Honolulu. "What people need to do is see and interact with them and see that they are real people who have real lives. They're from our same hometowns, and they are part of our families and friends."
Young said that he works with all branches of the military in his job and that this trip helps broaden his experiences and knowledge when dealing with them.
As impressed as the civilians were with the troops, the troops were just as impressed by the attitude and interest of the civilians.
Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Dustin Stone, an electronics technician with Naval Special Warfare Unit 2, said he was pleasantly surprised by how knowledgeable and inquisitive the conference participants were. "It was great; I didn't think that people would be that interested," he said. "It was nice because a lot of them actually knew about some of the stuff I was talking about."
The activities were designed to help the civilians better understand the mission of the special operations forces here and to expand their perspective on the military, Army Sgt. Maj. Paul Casey, operations sergeant major for 1st Battalion, 10th Special Forces Group, said.
"I think it serves a useful purpose in exposing the military to the civilians out here," Casey said. "There's not much exposure for them to the military except what they see in the news."
Stuttgart is home to U.S. European Command. After their time with the special operations troops, the conference participants received a briefing from senior leaders at the command. The briefing included information about current operations and an extensive question-and-answer session.
JCOC is a weeklong program meant to familiarize civilian business professionals with the military. Participants travel to military installations around the world and spend time with all branches of service.