By Army Spc. Marcus Floyd
7th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment
CAMP KONOTOP, Poland, June 1, 2015 – Heading out at 4 a.m., Army Staff Sgt. Marcus Carr Sr. and his supply team put on their gear and jumped into their tactical vehicle to deliver breakfast to the soldiers in the field here.
Although chow doesn't start for two more hours, Carr is adamant about getting the food to its destination on time.
“When I first came in the Army, I had a first sergeant and a commander who would ride me constantly, making sure the soldiers were fed on time,” said Carr, a unit supply sergeant with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment, 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division.
“When I was younger I didn't understand it,” he said, “but as I got older, I understood that if a soldier is not fed on time, the soldier cannot complete the mission.”
Operation Atlantic Resolve
The Army supply team has brought Carr's “mission first” mindset to Poland as part of Operation Atlantic Resolve, an ongoing multinational partnership focused on joint training and security cooperation between NATO allies.
Besides issuing food, Carr and his supply team also provide expendable and repair materials and building maintenance items throughout their unit’s area of operation.
“If it's not on time, the whole mission is delayed,” Carr said. “That's why I feel we are the backbone behind every mission.”
However, that mission hasn't been without its logistical challenges, Carr said. Normally supplied with a government purchase card used to make on-the-spot purchases from the local economy, the supply team has had to find ways to purchase supplies.
In following with the goals of Atlantic Resolve to work with NATO allies, the team was able to find a solution to the problem, Carr said.
Doing 'Just About Everything'
“We just make it happen,” he said. “We have our friends -- the French, Poles and Canadians -- and we do whatever it takes to help them. And in return, they help us.”
Atlantic Resolve has not only been an opportunity to work with NATO allies but has also provided Carr's soldiers with invaluable experience.
“The whole time we've been out here I've done just about everything a supply guy can do,” said Army Pfc. Milton Shelton, a unit supply specialist. “I'm knee-deep in lateral [equipment] transfers, [financial liability investigations for property loss], everything in regard to my job.”
Shelton, fueled with excitement from his experiences at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, California, takes every challenge in stride.
To prepare for the mission to Poland, Shelton said, the supply team transferred equipment from another unit, and although the process would normally be lengthy, they managed to accomplish the goal in about a week.
Rising to Challenges
“It's not challenging. You just rise to the occasion,” he said. “You don't really have time to dwell on challenges. You just have to do the job.”
Signed for a company's worth of equipment, Shelton rose to the occasion and experienced a side of the Army supply system rarely experienced by junior-enlisted soldiers.
“Most soldiers don't get that kind of experience, especially fresh out of Advanced Individual Training," Carr said. “So these guys will have first-hand experience with just about everything you can encounter.”
Carr said he and his soldiers have learned much in Poland.
“We can learn more out here. We have more time [in the field] out here,” said Army Spc. Tiereef Kales, another supply specialist assigned to the unit.
Kales and Shelton said they’ve gained extensive supply experience during their deployment to Poland, including inventories and investigations.
“It makes me feel good because I know I have poured everything I was supposed to pour into that soldier,” Carr said. “It makes me feel good also knowing that if I leave here right now, that soldier can step in my shoes and wear them well.”
Although his chain of command shows their appreciation for his hard work, getting the chance to improve his skills is reward enough, Shelton said.
“I'm glad I'm getting to learn all the stuff I'm learning,” he said. “I'm glad I'm getting to do everything I'm doing because it's going to make me a better noncommissioned officer.”