COMMAND/ORGANIZATION: U.S. Army Mission and Installation Contracting Command/918th Contracting Battalion Installation Division at Fort Carson, Colorado
TITLE: Contract specialist
YEARS OF SERVICE IN WORKFORCE: Less than 1
YEARS OF MILITARY SERVICE: 7
EDUCATION: B.A. in government, New Mexico State University; A.A. in government, New Mexico Military Institute
AWARDS: U.S. Army Excellence in Competition Badge (Bronze, Rifle 2020); Army Achievement Medal with one oak leaf cluster (2019); National Defense Service Medal (2016)
The New Mexico state motto, Crescit Eundo, means “It grows as it goes.” According to Marcos Sanchez, his service to his country embodies his state’s maxim. As his twin careers in Army acquisition and the New Mexico National Guard progress, Sanchez said his knowledge and contributions expand.
A native of Las Cruces, New Mexico, Sanchez’s admiration for service and desire to remain in the “land of enchantment” led him to enter the New Mexico Military Institute in 2017. There, he said he excelled, and compared the institute as the “West Point of the West,” where he learned leadership, critical thinking and how to have a better eye for detail. He graduated and was commissioned into the New Mexico National Guard as a first lieutenant in the U.S. Army Ordnance Corps, whose broad mission is to procure and supply Army combat units with weapons, ammunition and maintenance. In doing so, he said he achieved his combined goal early in his professional career of service to our country and support to his home state.
His interest in the contracting side of the Army was first piqued when he worked as a material coordinator (contractor) at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico.
“I saw a large swath of military contract-run warehouse logistics and shipping and receiving for U.S. Army [Combat Capabilities] Development Command Data and Analysis Center. This was during the initial phases of the COVID-19 pandemic, when supply chains worldwide were disrupted,” he said. “Witnessing that experience led me to seek a position in the Army acquisition field.”
Sanchez added he was fortunate to have the Mission and Installation Contracting Command in Fort Carson, Colorado, land on his radar. He was hired and began working as a contract specialist in the installation division last August.
The thing Sanchez enjoys most about his role, he said, is seeing and being a part of the entire life cycle of a contract, from a request, to execution, and finally the end product.
“While the first thing that comes to people’s minds when thinking of a contract is just a piece of paper, to me it is so much more,” he said. “It is repairs to the Soldier’s barracks, custodial services keeping cleanliness to the entire post, and mission essential supplies to aid the lethality of the warfighter.”
Because Sanchez joined the team at the end of the fiscal year, out of necessity he said he was thrown into numerous actions at varying points along the acquisition process without the ideal ramp-up time for new employees to shadow more experienced specialists or have time one on one with a contract officer.
“I learned construction contracting from the proverbial fire hose,” he said. “I picked my peers’ brains, modeled KO’s [contracting officers] thinking and studied along the way.”
“The main driving reason I decided to enter this field is the continuous learning opportunities available,” he said. “I receive training opportunities constantly in the form of on-the-job training, small working groups and working with my fellow peers. I have also had training opportunities outside of the office by being sent TDY [on temporary duty] for in-person training at my command’s headquarters and also DAU [Defense Acquisition University] classes for achieving my certification” — living up to his state motto to grow as he goes.
Each month Sanchez returns to his home state for his service to the New Mexico National Guard, where he serves as the plans officer for the 111th Sustainment Brigade, a responsibility he said that does not limit itself to just one weekend a month.
“What drives my service is being able to know that I can help Soldiers and their families directly and indirectly,” he said. “When working on a contract, I envision the first- and second-string effects that it has, and I use that as my motivation.”
In his short time in Army contracting, he has seen the impact and the potential further impacts that contracting can provide.
“I am looking forward to an experience that I will be telling as a story for the rest of my life, whether that be delivering supplies to the local community during a natural disaster, a service establishing relations with foreign countries to provide essential support to service members downrange, or working on an R&D [research and development] contract that revolutionizes the modern battlefield,” he said.
Maj. Brad Heinley is the deputy division chief and contracting officer for the Installation Division of Mission and Installation Contracting Command – Fort Carson. He has seven years of contracting experience in garrison, contingency and support to civil authority missions. He holds a B.S. in business administration from the University of Colorado and an M.B.A. from Webster University.
Editor's note: “Faces of the Force” is an online series highlighting members of the Army Acquisition Workforce through the power of individual stories. Profiles are produced by the U.S. Army Acquisition Support Center Communication and Support Branch, working closely with public affairs officers to feature Soldiers and civilians serving in various AL&T disciplines. For more information, or to nominate someone, please go to https://asc.army.mil/web/publications/army-alt-submissions/.