FORT JACKSON, S.C. (Army News Service, June 1, 2007) - Those charged with spreading the Army's message now have a better understanding of what "Army Strong" means.

For three-and-a-half days last week, 48 men and women from marketing companies charged with promoting the Army were put through a mini-basic combat training here.

From the rigors of physical fitness training to the sense of pride and accomplishment of graduation, and such challenges as lack of sleep and stress, they experienced a small taste of the life of an Initial Entry Training Soldier.

"They were challenged physically and mentally," said Staff Sgt. Shane Hanover, drill sergeant, Company E, 1st Battalion, 61st Infantry Regiment. "We put a lot of information out there for them in a short period of time. It was a shock to their system."

After inprocessing, being issued uniforms and TA-50 gear, and getting a weapons-immersion class their first evening, the first shock came the next morning when they were awakened for physical training.

Steve Lozic, a digital assistant media planner for Universal McCann, said he expected to experience some physical and emotional hardship, but it still came as a surprise.

"Waking up at 4:30 and staying up for 20 hours at a time was very difficult on the body and the mind," he said.

For Lauren Bauwens, an outreach events coordinator for Momentum Worldwide, the lack of sleep affected her in ways she never imagined.

"You confuse your left and your right more than you think you would," she said.
In addition to the PT, they were taught some basic drill and ceremony, learned how to fire an M-16, experienced Improvised Explosive Device training, manned a security checkpoint and learned how to work in four-member teams to clear a building at the military operations on urbanized terrain site.

Liz Miklya, a media-relations consultant with Weber Shandwick, said the training at the MOUT site was an eye opener.

"Even though it was just a small taste, it gave me an appreciation of the Soldiers in Iraq doing that 24-7 all day in extreme heat," she said. "It makes you admire the hard work, dedication, devotion and loyalty that Soldiers have."

The goal of the mini-BCT was to give the participants a hands-on experience of what it's like to make the transformation from civilian to Soldier so that they can better tell the Army story.

Staff Sgt. Hanover said mission was accomplished.

"I think they understand the Army message better," he said. "You can't tell somebody about something you've never done or lived. They'll be able to put the message out there a bit more clearly."

Ditto for Ms. Bauwens.

"It helps that now we can see into the life of what a Soldier does," Ms. Bauwens said. "It's not just all war and guns and fighting. It's discipline. You turn into a whole new person, get a new sense of character. When prospects are talking to recruiters, now we can listen in and interject a little bit."

Ms. Mikyla put it in simpler terms.

"Now when I explain 'Army Strong,' I really know what it means," she said.

(Mike A. Glasch writes for the Fort Jackson "Leader.")