PICATINNY ARSENAL, N.J. - A group of 30 members of the Morris County Chamber of Commerce "Leadership Morris" program got a taste of military history, research, development and weapons during a visit to Picatinny Arsenal Feb. 24.

In addition to receiving briefings on the workings of the arsenal, the team got an inside look at Picatinny's Toys for Tots program, toured the largest prototype manufacturing facility on the 6,500-acre installation (the Prototype Integration Facility) and got a chance to sharpen their shooting skills at the Marine Corps weapons simulation range.

"The simulation range is essentially a big video game that allows us to fire any weapon system, including various small arms that are organic to what we use when we deploy, such as the M14, M4, grenade launchers and mortars," said Gunnery Sgt. Tobin Eckstine of the Golf Company, 2nd Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment reserve unit stationed at Picatinny.

Each team member even took home a military souvenir in the form of a packaged MRE, or meal-ready-to-eat, which are individual food rations warfighters eat while in combat zones or remote areas.

The visit to Picatinny was part of Leadership Morris' 10-month program in which participants take one day-long field trip every month to various business, government or education facilities in Morris County. The theme for the visit focused on economic development.

"Community partnerships are an important part of any military installation's livelihood," said Lt. Col. Herb Koehler, Picatinny Garrison Commander. "Drawing on the support of our friends, neighbors, and community and business leaders outside our gates helps us to continue our mission to support the warfighter and their families. As one of the largest employers in Morris County and with a rich history that dates back to our nation's origins, Picatinny Arsenal remains an integral part of the Northern New Jersey community."

For some members of Leadership Morris, this was their first time touring the inner workings of the arsenal.

"I had no idea of the scope and the size of the grounds - it's quite impressive," said Dan Carroll, who works at a local law firm. "I've lived in Morris County my whole life and I've never been inside Picatinny."

"We could see how thick the armaments are and how quickly they're able to turn stuff around," he added. "It's something you don't realize is being done here, that things are being shipped from here and put into the battlefield."

The day ended with a social at Picatinny's Cannon Gate Catering and Conference Center, where members of the program networked with one another and with members of Picatinny Arsenal.

"It's an eye opening experience," Carroll said. "We're connecting the outside community to Picatinny Arsenal and connecting the military and business community to give services to the warfighter. It's great to have the link and to know what the community can offer to give back to the arsenal."

ABOUT US: Picatinny Arsenal is the Joint Center of Excellence for Armaments and Munitions, providing products and services to all branches of the U.S. military. Nestled in the northern New Jersey skylands, the team of 5,000-strong specializes in the research, development, acquisition and life cycle management of advanced conventional weapon systems and leap-ahead ammunition. Learn more at www.pica.army.mil