By Staff Sgt. Joel PenaMarch 28, 2013
FORT DRUM, N.Y. -- Members of the Business Executives for National Security visited Fort Drum on March 19-20 to experience a day in a Soldier's life.
Founded in 1982 by business executive and entrepreneur Stanley A. Weiss, nonpartisan and nonprofit BENS supports the U.S. government by applying best business practice solutions to its most difficult national security problems.
"I think is critical that we take the expertise available in the private sector and leverage that to support the national security apparatus of the U.S., particularly the uniformed military and today the 10th Mountain Division," said Tom Higgins, managing director and head of operational control and military / veterans affairs for J.P. Morgan Chase.
For 30 years, BENS has served as the primary channel through which senior American business leaders contribute special experience and talent to help build a more secure nation. With regional offices in Washington, D.C., their membership has earned the trust and respect of leaders in government.
The visit began with a dinner in Watertown with the command group and brigade commanders.
Bright and early the next morning, BENS members shared breakfast with transitioning Soldiers, as well as Soldiers from 3rd Brigade Combat Team and 91st Military Police Battalion, 10th Sustainment Brigade.
After breakfast and a photo opportunity by the Military Mountaineers Monument with the command group, BENS members received a Fort Drum familiarization briefing in Hays Hall.
Soon after the briefing, they traveled to the Military Working Dog Training Facility to observe how dog training is conducted.
Once at the facility, the BENS team enjoyed watching the dogs with their trainers showcase their talents and training. They also were given an opportunity to suit up and get a real feel of what "taking a bite out of crime" feels like.
"I could feel the teeth and the strength of his jaw," said Georgette Mosbacher, president and CEO of Borghese Inc. "Those teeth didn't look all that imposing on a dog 1/3 my size, but when I felt those teeth, strength and focus, I knew there was no way I could get away from that dog."
For lunch, the team enjoyed Meals, Ready-to-Eat, or MREs, with the troops. In the afternoon, they traveled to Fort Drum's training area to observe 3rd BCT Soldiers conduct a live-fire exercise. They also had an opportunity to fire the M-16A4 rifle.
At the end of the day, they all returned to the division headquarters with a better understanding of a day in a Soldier's life.
"Fort Drum is a great place to live and train," said Maj. Gen. Stephen J. Townsend, Fort Drum and 10th Mountain Division (LI) commander. "It's a great installation for our Army to be stationed, and in the Northeast region is very important."
"BENS are concerned citizens," Townsend said. "I talked to them about our concerns, about sequestration and the impact it will have on readiness. Even though readiness is going to be protected for our Soldiers deploying immediately, it is the folks after that who aren't deploying that I'm most concerned about."
Townsend concluded by stressing the importance of not forgetting that the Army still has work to do in Afghanistan.
"Our nation is drawing down in Afghanistan, but we're going to have troops there till the end of 2014 and potentially beyond, and they need to help us remind the American people of that, that (Soldiers of) the 10th Mountain Division of Fort Drum are going to be in Afghanistan for the next two years," he said.
For BENS members, the visit proved to be educational and enjoyable.
"I think the best part was meeting the Soldiers -- getting to know a few of them and getting to understand the challenges they face on a professional and personal level," Higgins said. "I walk away with a feeling that the command is doing an amazing job taking care of Soldiers here."
(Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Meadows, a 10th Mountain Division journalist, contributed to this article.)