By Ronald BaileyJanuary 18, 2019
REDSTONE ARSENAL, Alabama -- Ladies and Gentlemen, it is U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command Workforce Wednesday. Meet U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Carlos Ortiz, an 88M motor transport operator and the USASMDC/ARSTRAT commanding general's senior driver. We asked him to share a little more about himself and his duties.
Originally from Bayamon, Puerto Rico, Staff Sgt. Ortiz is an 88M motor transport operator assigned to the SMDC Headquarters at Redstone Arsenal, Alabama.
PAO: What did you do before you joined the Army?
Ortiz: Before joining the Army I was a college student studying computer programing.
PAO: What or who influenced you to join the Army?
Ortiz: I'm actually the first member of my family to join the military. Its always been a long-term desire of mine to join the Army ever since I was a kid.
PAO: How did you become the CG's senior driver?
Ortiz: A few years ago I was deployed with the 4th Infantry Division and began to serve as a driver for senior military officers and other VIPs. When I came back from that deployment I was assigned to SMDC/ARSTRAT at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado, as the driver for the deputy commanding general for Operations. Based on my success there, the command sent me to the Antiterrorism Evasive Driving Course at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. After that, I was assigned to the SMDC headquarters at Redstone Arsenal.
PAO: What are some of the challenges you face as the CG's driver?
Ortiz: Safety and timeliness are important, but security is always my number one concern and focus. One of the most vulnerable times to an attack is when you are driving. A simple drive can turn into an attack and I have to out-think, out-smart, and out-drive the bad guy. That takes constant planning and alertness for any sign of trouble. When driving, my head is on a swivel looking for potential danger and my mind is focused on how to get out of that trouble if required.
PAO: What are some of the misconceptions about being the command's senior driver and an 88M?
Ortiz: One of the most common misconceptions is that all I do is drive. Even when I was in a line unit we don't "just drive." Like other NCOs, the further you go up in rank, the more responsibility you gain. 88Ms are responsible not only for driving, but managing loads, overseeing loading and unloading of cargo, ensuring convoy security techniques, and correcting or reporting vehicle deficiencies. As any NCO, we also have administrative duties such as taking care of Soldiers, training management, professional development, and so on. Here at the SMDC command group for example, I am the government purchase card monitor, security monitor, and training NCO in addition to my primary duties.
PAO: What is the most satisfying part of your duties?
Ortiz: Taking care of the CG. I am responsible for him to be at the right place, at the right time and to get him there safely. By me doing my job properly and professionally, he can do his very important job.
PAO: What advice do you have to young 88M Soldiers to help them succeed?
Ortiz: Stay motivated and take as much additional training as possible. Even if the training is not directly related to your job now, it may be more important when you become an NCO or in a future assignment where you might be doing something different than you are now.
PAO: When you are not on duty, what hobbies or interests do you have?
Ortiz: Off duty, I like to work out. I think exercise makes me a better me. I'm relaxed when I work out. It helps clear my mind. I also enjoy firearms sports for a lot of the same reasons.
PAO: In the past, you worked mostly in "line units." SMDC/ARSTRAT headquarters must be very different as it is mostly staffed by Army civilians and Department of Defense contractors. How have you adapted to that environment?
Ortiz: I've had to change my approach a little when working with civilians. For one thing, I've learned more about the rank structure for people in civil service. I never knew they had a rank structure similar to the military. I used to think civilians were basically all at the same level. As an example, I never knew there was such a thing as the senior executive service which are very similar to general officers. Civilians have different levels of duties and responsibilities just like Soldiers, NCOs and officers. Civilians have very specific areas of expertise. Unlike most Soldiers, they stay around for a long time and remember how things happened in the past. It is great to have that sort of information available.
PAO: What does your family think about your service and are they supportive of your career?
Ortiz: For my immediate family, moving can be stressful but they know that is a part of being a Soldier. Since I am the first member of my family to be in the military they don't know what my day-to-day duties are like but they are very supportive. My brother in particular has always been supportive telling people "my brother is in the Army." The Army has been pretty good to me. It is good steady pay and that means my wife and kids have a good life too.