MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va. --
Taking a ride on a tiltrotor aircraft, firing military-grade weapons and picking the mind of a four-star general may not be the agenda for a typical Friday, but it was for 17 civilian leaders from across the country as they participated in the Marine Corps Executive Forum in the national capital region July 18.
The Executive Forum is held five times a year. Four are held in the national capital region and one in southern California. Since 2006, leaders with various community roles have been invited to join Marine Corps leaders for a day to familiarize and strengthen the relationship between the Marines and communities nationwide.
“Part of our mission is to inform the American public’s understanding of what the Marine Corps is all about,” said Maj. Matthew Bellaver, lead planner for the community relations section, Headquarters Marine Corps. “We are invested in effective engagements that have potential to enhance relationships between the Marine Corps and communities.”
The leaders included professors, chief executive officers, presidents and attorneys. They met in Alexandria before touring key Marine Corps facilities in the national capital region including the Pentagon, parts of Marine Corps Base Quantico, the National Museum of the Marine Corps and Marine Barracks Washington, D.C.
“It just gives me and everyone who went through this a deeper appreciation for the amount of training that it takes to build a Marine,” said Michael Hacker a partner with the communications and public affairs consulting firm HDMK. “It’s just a very moving and eye-opening experience and something that I will certainly keep with me the rest of my life.”
Those who meet eligibility requirements gain an opportunity to experience Marine Corps tradition, philosophy and practices.
“The Marine Corps should continue to reach out to business leaders,” Hacker said. “It’s invaluable to build that important civilian partnership. This is a very good investment of resources by the Marine Corps, fostering these relationships helps build that political leadership that is necessary to continue civilian support for the Marine Corps.”
The visitors took much away from the day, flying in the back of an MV-22 Osprey, learning traditions while walking through the halls of the National Museum of the Marine Corps, listening to philosophy of the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program while watching a demonstration, and firing several Marine Corps weapons.
“I wouldn’t have said that a Marine has any other level of character than any other serviceman, but I think that seeing how important it is, seeing how it’s ingrained in the training and seeing how critical it is to the leadership is something that I would have never known, and that’s a big takeaway for me,” said Matt Clyne, president, Direct Connect.
As Marines transition out into the civilian workforce, the relationship fostered between the Corps and community employers becomes very important.
“I’ve been running companies for 20 years and in that time, I’ve hired over 25 different Marines,” Hacker said. “When you see 'Marine' on someone’s application, it’s almost guaranteed that they’re going to get a chance, and if they’re qualified they are going to be the people we are going to hire just because we see such a high rate of success.”