FORT JACKSON, S.C. (Army News Service, Nov. 20, 2006) Aca,!" Responsible for the Army's new slogan, "Army Strong," representatives of the New York-based McCann Erickson advertising agency underwent some unusual training last week.

Hosted by Fort Jackson's Company F, 2nd Battalion, 60th Infantry Regiment, 39 members of the agency went to the post to participate in a three-and-a-half day Basic Combat Training camp.

"The purpose is to give the advertising company a real, on-the-ground look of what it's like to make the transformation from civilian to Soldier," said Carl Morrow, Fort Jackson operations assistant, Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security. "They had the opportunity to do some training, as well as observe Soldiers being trained, and there was a question-and-answer session afterward, where they got to ask Soldiers about their experiences."

Morrow said because the Mini-BCT offered McCann Erickson employees an opportunity to better understand the Army, it could help spark creativity that may otherwise go untapped.

"Hopefully this helps them better brainstorm and put out ideas because they've seen it up close and experienced a small part of the transition," he said. "They conquer a lot of personal fears, as well as being able to put a lot of things they've learned toward their advertising."

Elizabeth Marks, senior vice president and senior strategic manager for McCann Erickson, said it did just that.

"I thought it was the right combination of realistic, yet informative, training," Marks said. "It was very helpful in giving us a deeper understanding of what these Soldiers go through. We also had the opportunity to meet with Soldiers, which validated the experience we had, but also validated the thinking and learning behind the campaign itself."

Marks summed up her experience by saying the Mini-BCT helped convey "a better understanding from beginning to end."

Participants arrived Nov. 6 at the 120th Adjutant General Battalion (Reception), where they relinquished contraband items, received military clothing at the Clothing Initial Issue Point and were turned over to the 2nd Bn., 60th Inf. Reg. Over the next three days, they learned how to wear the Army Combat Uniform, practiced Jiu-Jitsu, ran the Fit-to-Win Course, used the Engagement Skills Trainer 2000, and even participated in live-fire exercises at Bastogne Range, a heavy weapons range. They graduated Nov. 8 in a small ceremony at company headquarters.

Richard Livingston, creative team project leader, Army Group, NAS Recruitment Communications, said he had expected to be treated "more like a recruit" during his time here, but was satisfied with the insight he received.

"Overall, I thought the whole thing was fantastic," Livingston said. "I'd do it again in a shot if I had the opportunity."

A select group of 11 members traveled to Laurinburg, N.C., to skydive with the Golden Knights, the U.S. Army's Parachute Demonstration Team. One of those was Casey Perry, NAS art director.

"It was amazing, though I was definitely scared to death going up there," Casey said. "I felt pretty confident going up with the Golden Knights and if I were to do it again, I'd definitely want it to be with them."

"You hear stories but, seeing everything for myself, I have a ton more respect for everyone in the military."