FORT JACKSON, S.C. (Jan. 27, 2009) -- More than 50 members of the Leadership Columbia program visited Fort Jackson Jan. 13 to learn about how the Army trains Soldiers and develops leaders.
Leadership Columbia is a program sponsored by the Greater Columbia Chamber of Commerce that aims to enhance young leaders' understanding of the community.
The visitors participated in a classroom training session before hearing from Lt. Gen. Benjamin Freakley, commander of the U.S. Army Accessions Command, about the recruiting challenges facing today's Army.
Discussing medical and educational challenges of today's youth, he called upon the leaders to raise a generation that is eligible to join the military.
"We have a growing gap between those who have served and those who have not served," Freakley said. "It is your job to raise the talent to give us an Army."
The guests then had the opportunity to experience Army training by visiting the Engagement Skills Trainer and the Team Development Course, where they participated in team-building challenges.
"The experience was phenomenal. I learned a lot," said Eric Gluse, who works for a bank. "Everyone here is a leader and I've learned a lot from them, most of all working as a team. I really got that instilled in me since I've been here."
Col. Kevin Shwedo, Fort Jackson deputy commanding officer, said one of the things the group learned was the importance of leadership by example.
"Society and a lot of corporate people direct and manage as opposed to lead by example," he said. "(Young people) follow an individual whom they respect; and they respect those individuals who are willing to roll up their sleeves and participate and lead from the front. And I think that's what they're learning today."
Kelly Davis, whose father is retired from the Army, said that although she had been to Fort Jackson before, she appreciated being able to look behind the scenes.
"Obviously, the Army is such a prime example of leadership," she said. "Just to get a small taste of what our Soldiers go through to develop their skills is really just a unique experience a lot of people don't get."