ARLINGTON, Va. --
During a visit to the Pentagon June 26, business executives heard firsthand from the commandant concerns over the growing “regional instability” in Korea, and the Corps’ ability to launch an amphibious assault overseas at any given moment.
While Gen. James T. Conway met with members from New England’s chapter of the Young Presidents Organization, other Marine Corps leaders escorted business executives from the Maryland-based Vistage Group, a network to support and train chief executives.
The business executives and Marine Corps leaders came together at the Marine Corps Business Executive Forum, a semi-annual event that allows influential business and community leaders an opportunity to learn about the Marine Corps and intermingle with its leadership.
The day’s events kicked off with a Marine-led tour through the historic corridors of the Pentagon and came to a close with a walk through Marine Corps history at the National Museum of the Marine Corps.
Sandwiched between the tours, the executives had the opportunity to sit in on an unclassified brief explaining the makeup of the Corps and its current goals in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“The tour of the Pentagon was interesting, but the brief was excellent,” said Jeff Sella, chief executive and president of SPC Financial, a group of investment advisors. “The brief really highlighted the various missions the Marines are called upon for.”
After eating breakfast in the commandants dining facility, in the Pentagon, the groups were treated to a question and answer period with Conway and Brig. Gen. James M. Lariviere, director, reserve affairs division.
“Having the privilege to meet Gen. Conway was the highlight of my visit,” said Michael Friedman, president of Monarch Industries, a company that manufactures and installs architectural millwork. “For a man in his position to take forty-five minutes out of his day was remarkable, and I was in awe of his presence. He was clear, concise and forthright in his remarks. He did not pander to us as business people or non-Marines, but spoke with authority and allowed us to draw our own conclusions from his positions.”
The group of industry leaders also witnessed a Marine Corps Mixed Martial Arts Program demonstration, and got a firsthand look at one of the Corps’ newest vehicles – the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle.
“I have a much greater appreciation for what the military is doing to prepare for the future after seeing the EFV.” said Rich Farrell, president of Full Armor, a management policies company.
Following a trip to Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va., the executives experienced a field lunch with Meals, Ready-to-Eat.
“I don’t think a whole restaurant chain could open based on those meals,” said Michael Bloch, president of MBB Holdings Incorporated. “I had an interesting tasting veggie burger.”
Others were pleasantly surprised with their MRE.
“My MRE was very good, I had the chicken fajitas,” said Max Brickle, president of Northwest Woolen Mills, a company that manufactures wool blankets from raw fiber to the final product.
The group was able to digest their meals while on the firing line, where the groups were given the opportunity to fire several weapons from the Marine Corps arsenal.
“This is a blast. The guns are so powerful,” Farrell said. “The Marines on the firing line were great. They were so patient and taught me how to do it.”
At the end of the day the individuals were worn out but still talking about their experiences.
“I have a much, much greater appreciation for the slogan ‘The Few. The Proud. The Marines,’” Farrell said. “I think about how true that is.”
Others walked away thinking the business world could learn something from the Marines.
“How organized the Marines are – if businesses operated this efficiently we would all be better off,” Bloch said.
For additional information on the Marine Corps Business Executive Forum, contact the Division of Public Affairs’ Community Relations Branch at (703) 614-1034 or visit the Marine Corps Web site at: www.marines.mil/community