CAMP LEATHERNECK, Helmand province, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan --
Marines on deployment use a wide variety of gear and equipment to complete their missions. Sometimes the gear they have is not the best piece suited for the task at hand, or through daily use, parts of their equipment become worn and broken.
Whenever a Marine unit needs additional supplies and equipment to replace broken gear or gear they don’t have but need to complete their mission, they can submit a request to the contracting open purchase request noncommissioned officer.
Sgt Enrique Hurtado works as the contracting OPR NCO for Regimental Combat Team 1 and his job is to review, adjust, and submit up to the next level all of the contracts and requests for RCT-1’s subordinate units.
"Whenever a (forward operating base) or a (patrol base) needs something to meet a mission or goal such as different equipment for a certain type of vehicle or base security, they'll send a request up the chain of command,” said Hurtado. “What I do is look over that request, reword it to the proper format and make any adjustments that are needed so when it goes to that next step the process will be smoother and the Marines can get the equipment they need faster."
The San Jose, Calif., native explained a lot of the requests he receives are often for parts or equipment that the unit's supply section won't normally have on hand or would take several weeks to get. Hurtado works with every request the RCT receives and helps the Marines at the FOBs and PBs get the gear they need as fast as possible.
"Not everyone knows how to properly fill out a request form appropriately and the whole process can become really slow and even be brought to a stop while the guys who receive the requests try to work through them and figure out who needs what the most and if they really need it," said Hurtado. "When you've got a Marine like me whose whole job is to filter the requests, the commanders who get the requests next have a full understanding of why the unit needs the gear and why the supply system is unable to support them."
Part of Hurtado's job is to contact the units making the request and getting the whole story behind the submission for the gear. He says that being able to call the unit and find out what's going on at the FOBs really helps get the gear out to the unit faster.
"Sergeant Hurtado has an important role to play that keeps the entire system moving and the gear getting into the hands that need it," said Gunnery Sgt. Robert Rankin, the logistics chief for RCT-1.
The Vista, Calif., native helps to oversee the projects and requests that Hurtado works on, in the event that he needs guidance or assistance with any difficult problems. Rankin said that it was a rare day when Hurtado would come to him for assistance.
"Most of the requests I see are for parts and equipment I have never heard about before," said Hurtado. "An odd request for me to get is one asking for some normal gear like ammo. It's those requests asking for every-day gear that I really have to start digging and asking questions to find out why the unit is going through the trouble of making a special request to the RCT."
In addition to his normal work with the requests that he receives daily, Hurtado also works directly with the supply section and the Marines who will deliver the approved gear to the FOB or PB. He helps coordinate how gear is organized and works with the 2nd Marine Air Wing (Forward) to get the gear out as quickly as possible.
"I can describe Sgt. Hurtado and his work in one word—Solid," said Rankin. "The way he completes a task and the amount of time it takes him is very proficient. It would be very easy for his job to become overwhelming if he didn't move quick enough on just a few requests because he gets more and more every day. I've seen him get swamped but I've also seen him push through those tough times and go above and beyond to get the job done. He took it upon himself to go out and get a (tactical vehicle) license so he himself can help push gear out from the camp's supply lots to the flight line and get it to those Marines at the FOBs."
Hurtado said that he gets a great feeling of pride for the job he does and the effects he has on missions all over Afghanistan.
"I like my job," said Hurtado. "It keeps me busy and entertained seeing the gear requests and the reasons for it. It's a very engaging job and being able to help those Marines get the gear they need to do their mission gives me a real sense of contributing to the overall mission."