Know Your Military

Community Leaders Learn About America's Military

June 24, 2019 | BY David Vergun

The latest iteration of a secretary of defense-sponsored outreach program that gives American business and community leaders an immersive experience with the military is underway.

Several dozen Joint Civilian Orientation Conference attendees will visit a number of military installations across the U.S. this week to learn more about how the men and women of the armed forces are contributing to national security.

The 2019 JCOC kicked off yesterday with a reception in Alexandria, Virginia, and a Pentagon tour today.

An airman speaks to a civilian.
Press Officer
Air Force Col. DeDe Halfhill, director of public affairs operations for the Defense Department, explains how the Pentagon’s press officers interact with members of the civilian media during a tour of the Pentagon by Joint Civilian Orientation Conference participants, June 24, 2019.
Photo By: David Vergun, DOD
VIRIN: 190624-D-UB488-004E
A man talks to a group.
Tour Group
Joint Civilian Orientation Conference attendees get a tour of the Pentagon, June 24, 2019.
Photo By: David Vergun, DOD
VIRIN: 190624-D-UB488-001E

David L. Norquist, performing the duties of the deputy defense secretary, spoke to participants during their Pentagon visit. The Defense Department provides the military forces needed to deter war and to ensure America's security. DOD's deterrence role is important in convincing potential adversaries that attacking the U.S. is not a pathway to success, Norquist said.

A man speaks from behind a podium.
Norquist Briefing
David L. Norquist, performing the duties of the deputy defense secretary, speaks with members of the Joint Civilian Orientation Conference at the Pentagon, June 24, 2019.
Photo By: Lisa Ferdinando, DOD
VIRIN: 190624-D-BN624-0036B

Deterrence is bolstered by the department's readiness and modernization efforts, he explained, which include a robust research, development, test and evaluation program; an emphasis on shipbuilding; and, innovations in the space and cyberspace domains. Those efforts are needed to stay ahead of near-peer competitors China and Russia, he added.

During the reception in Alexandria, Marine Corps Inspector General Maj. Gen. David A. Ottignon told the attendees that most of the all-volunteer force is young people who are entrusted with a great deal of responsibility.

A man speaks to a group.
JCOC Reception
Marine Corps Inspector General Maj. Gen. David A. Ottignon speaks to Joint Civilian Orientation Conference participants during a reception in Alexandria, Va., June 23, 2019.
Photo By: David Vergun, DOD
VIRIN: 190624-D-UB488-003E

As an example, he cited a young Marine sergeant he met in Iraq in 2007, during the second battle of Fallujah. The sergeant was tasked with leading and protecting his 13-member squad. Besides conducting squad movements through enemy-held territory, he was reviewing drone feeds, operating communications equipment and ensuring his squad had the medical supplies and materiel needed to survive and win.

JCOC participants include professional athletes, executives and other business and community leaders from across the country.

Tony Siragusa, a former defensive tackle for the Indianapolis Colts and Baltimore Ravens, said the military is a team of professionals, much like NFL teams. However, the similarity ends there, he said. The men and women of the U.S. military are willing to put their lives on the line for America, Siragusa said. "They command my full respect," he added.

A Marine speaks with a civilian.
Siragusa Chat
Marine Corps Inspector General Maj. Gen. David A. Ottignon speaks to Tony Siragusa, a Joint Civilian Orientation Conference participant, during a reception in Alexandria, Va., June 23, 2019. Siragusa, a former NFL defensive tackle for the Indianapolis Colts and Baltimore Ravens, is taking part in the weeklong conference.
Photo By: David Vergun, DOD
VIRIN: 190624-D-UB488-002E

Marc Cameron, a retired U.S. marshal, said he's come to respect the military during his working relationships with Army criminal investigators and Coast Guard law enforcement personnel over the years.

Hiro Rodriguez, head of strategy for Prefect Technologies Inc., said there isn't a very large military presence in the San Francisco Bay Area where he lives and works, and his knowledge of the armed forces is limited. He said he looks forward to meeting the young men and women who are willing to give their lives for their country, if necessary.

Charlene Thomas, president of human services for UPS Inc., said she's particularly interested in learning about the training military people go through for their military occupational specialties.

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