Faces From the Front for August 30, 2010 - Maj. Mark Hopkins
Current Unit: 401st Army Field
Current Position: Logistics Task Force Officer In Charge
Current Location: Afghanistan
Hometown: Chicago, Ill.
Years of Service: 26
As a successful entrepreneur, Mark Hopkins helps protect his fellow Americans from the ongoing threat of identity theft. His business is dedicated to providing affordable identity theft solutions to their clients, as well as offering access to legal services nationwide.
As an officer in the Army Reserve for 26 years, Maj. Mark Hopkins is also no stranger to defending his country from threats around the world. Last October, Hopkins was activated to deploy to Afghanistan as the officer in charge (OIC) of a logistics task force with the 401st Army Field Support Brigade.
“In the civilian world, I’m a business owner, but I have found that the skills I’ve acquired in business have come in handy here,” Hopkins said.
Until a few weeks ago, Hopkins was stationed at Forward Operating Base (FOB) Fenty, where he managed a variety of projects and oversaw the health and welfare of the more than 140 Soldiers, Army civilians and contract personnel employed on the numerous contracts under his command. Hopkins ensured that these individuals were supplied with sleeping quarters and facilities to accomplish their projects, as well as the appropriate level of force protection to keep them safe while carrying out their missions.
Aside from these duties, his main responsibility was to manage the Army’s AC-First contract, which is aimed at providing swift and efficient tactical vehicle and equipment maintenance throughout their area of operations in Afghanistan.
“We provided maintenance support as far forward as possible. This enabled us to be more responsive and to return battle-damaged vehicles back to the warfighter quicker,” Hopkins said.
Hopkins equipped the contractors working on AC-First with the necessary materials to perform all of the vehicle maintenance duties outlined in their contract. He also provided these individuals with guidance and feedback on their work, to ensure their success in assisting each of the units they supported.
As a business leader, Hopkins is used to motivating others through inspiration, a skill that proved useful to him in his work with AC-First.
“Most assignments, I usually have Soldiers or Army civilians under my supervision. In this assignment I had very few civilians and only one Soldier under my supervision,” Hopkins explained. “I had many contractors who I provided support for and I had to influence them, not direct them, to get things done.”
Additionally, Hopkins was charged with coordinating with the leadership at FOB Fenty in order to secure the future base facilities necessary for the continuance and growth of the AC-First program.
“My command team negotiated with the FOB leadership for land space to build maintenance facilities and administrative space, as well as housing units for future expansion. Therefore, when the FOB finishes acquiring the land outside of the southern boundary, we will have already negotiated what portion of it we would like to have,” Hopkins said.
Recently Hopkins left FOB Fenty and is currently transitioning to a new location. He will continue to perform the same types of duties he’s executed throughout his deployment, but now his efforts will be in relation to Camp Marmal and Camp Spann, which are both located in the Mazar-i-Sharif area of Afghanistan.
While this deployment had its challenges, Hopkins took everything in stride and used his ingenuity to overcome the difficulties he encounters.
“Since I decided I was going to enjoy this deployment, it has been a lot of fun solving the problems the Army throws my way,” Hopkins said.
“In addition, Hopkins has learned that he can not only apply the skills learned through his work with Pre-Paid Legal Services to his work in Afghanistan, but also that the talents he has fine tuned throughout his deployment will be an asset to him when he goes back to running his business.
“During this deployment I have learned the importance of creating a proper culture and a positive environment. I have also relearned the important lesson that helping other people succeed helps me to succeed.”
Hopkins looks forward to returning home to his wife and three children later this year.