By Tara ClementsJune 25, 2013
FORT BELVOIR, Va. (June 25, 2013) -- Working "above your pay grade"? For Carrie Caldwell Clinard, that phrase quickly became a reality three years into her Army Civilian career when she deployed to Iraq. When she arrived in Iraq, instead of the job she thought she was going to, she was slated for a different position two pay grades above her own and in a different location. She rose to the challenge, finding herself responsible for all logistics functions for an entire base to include transportation, maintenance, supply, fuel, etc. Consequently, that leadership experience has had a dramatic impact on her career and how she tackles problems and finds solutions "with a sense of urgency" to ensure our Soldiers are equipped to accomplish their mission.
No stranger to a challenge, Clinard's current job requires a great deal of fire-power as a logistics management specialist responsible for ensuring the Army's principal air-to-ground missile weapon system, HELLFIRE, is maintained and operational for Soldiers and service members alike.
FOTF: What do you do in the Army? Why is it important?
CLINARD: Currently, I am a logistics management specialist and manage any spare parts (launcher rails, circuit cart assemblies) needed to fix and maintain the M299 Longbow Launcher which shoots HELLFIRE missiles. The HELLFIRE missile weapon system is used on many aviation platforms, such as the OH-58 Kiowa, AH-64 Apache and Gray Eagle Unmanned Aerial System, Special Operations aircraft and supports not only the Army, but Air Force, Navy, Marine and foreign military sales customers. I forecast and manage the inventory of spare parts, plan 'spares' requirements, initiate procurements and track contract deliveries, manage repair programs at organic and contractor depots and many other logistics functions to support and sustain the weapon system. I also work heavily with the RESET team and submit and track their requisitions. When a unit returns from a deployment, this team is responsible for assessing and fixing the weapon system which includes ordering any spare parts required for repairs.
I feel my job is important because these actions ensure the warfighter receives his/her needed parts to maintain 'weapon system readiness' and support their mission. HELLFIREs are used heavily in theater and contingency operations, so it is vital the soldier has the parts available when needed to fire that missile at the target.
FOTF: What has your experience been like so far? What has surprised you the most?
CLINARD: I have had a great experience thus far working with the Army. There was a learning curve in the beginning with becoming familiar with Army culture and way of doing business, as well as learning a thousand Army acronyms. However, the career training the Army has provided has made things easier and helped me to learn my job. I've even been able to earn my master's degree through the Army.
Working here [Redstone Arsenal, Ala.] has provided many opportunities and experiences. I have traveled to various Army installations and witnessed Soldiers using the equipment that I support. In 2011, I had the opportunity to deploy to Iraq and provide logistical support with the drawdown. That was an invaluable experience that I will always carry with me. Although work can get stressful and busy at times, I feel continuously blessed to have the job that I have.
FOTF: What has surprised you the most?
CLINARD: What surprises me most is the dedication and commitment of the Army Civilian workforce to get the job done and support the warfighter. I think my job as a logistician for the Army keeps the fact that we are still engaged in a war at the forefront of my mind; and that's what drives me to successfully and quickly complete my tasks each day. When an issue arises that affects the field, everyone is engaged and committed to finding a solution. Soldiers sacrifice so much and put themselves in harm's way continually to protect this country. It is important for us as DoD civilians to do our job and provide them the needed equipment, so they can carry out their missions and succeed on the battlefield.
FOTF: You mentioned your deployment to Iraq in 2011. What was it like?
CLINARD: I deployed in support of Operation New Dawn from March -- September 2011 and provided logistical support for the drawdown in Iraq working closely with coalition military, contractors, U.S. Embassy personnel and local Iraqis. I was located at Forward Operating Base (FOB) Prosperity in Baghdad, Iraq serving as the director of logistics over the base and was responsible for all logistics functions including transportation, maintenance, supply, fuel, etc. I was heavily involved with logistics support contracts and initiated new project requests, developed project planning estimates, and assisted with contract development, performance and completion tasks. In addition, I was also the logistics lead at my FOB for Base Operating Support -- Integrator which was poised to take over logistics functions from the military as they departed. A part of those functions included facilitating the closure and transition of bases to the Government of Iraq and the U.S. Department of State.
It was a very challenging and difficult deployment, given the complex missions and the 'melting pot' of people, agencies and organizations from around the world I worked with. But, it was also very rewarding to be a part of that chapter in American history. It was a very humbling and a career-changing experience that I will always carry with me.
FOTF: What was your most memorable day?
CLINARD: One of the more memorable moments from my deployment is of a barbeque. I worked side-by-side with Soldiers from the 1-148th Field Artillery Battalion, Idaho National Guard for months. Shortly before they redeployed, we got together for a cookout. I remember sitting around the table laughing, taking several pictures and soaking up the moment because I knew I wouldn't get to see those guys again. It was a rare moment to have some down time. I still keep in touch with a few of them--especially during football season.
FOTF: Why did you decide to work for the Army? What is your greatest satisfaction in being part of the Army?
CLINARD: I became an Army Civilian in June 2008 after meeting a recruiter and interviewing at a college career fair. I wasn't even aware of the opportunity to work for the Army as a civilian, especially in Alabama. My grandfather was an Army veteran and I have always had pride in that and had great patriotism for the military and my country. I joined because it was a great career opportunity, as well as a career that I felt had great purpose and fulfillment.
My greatest satisfaction is knowing that I directly support the warfighter by supplying them with a weapon system that can help achieve their mission, when called upon.
FOTF: What are your career aspirations?
CLINARD: I think I'll stick here. My coworkers poke fun at me because I have a retirement poster on my desk that gives me my retirement date -- June 8, 2046. Just a few more years to go!