Once we deployed to Afghanistan in 2006, I was assigned to the Towr Kham Forward Operating Base (FOB) along the border of Pakistan in the Nangarhar Province of Afghanistan. I was attached to our company’s 3rd Platoon along with our Company Executive Officer. Once we arrived on sight, we realized that there was really no Command Post, just a radio, computer, and a map on the wall. I quickly volunteered to construct the Command Post from scratch, utilizing what limited resources we had on the FOB, but with the ability acquire additional resources from Battalion back on the Jalalabad Base. At this point, I was given the duty as the “Command Post Non-commisioned Officer In Charge (NCOIC)”. This was not necessarily an official title, but was a position created out of necessity.
This was my first real taste of Project Management. It took me about 1 month to complete this project, from initiation to close out. I developed the Project Plan, including a rough schedule, resource requirements list, risk assessment, simple stakeholder analysis, and also designed the command post and built it myself from scratch. After completing the Command Post, I was then assigned 3 Communications Personnel. I was placed in charge of these Marines in developing a watch schedule to ensure 24/7 communications with command and our squads in the field. I had several duties, which included the following:
- Maintaining the watch rotation for 24/7 monitoring of the communications with higher command and unites in the field.
- Develop Standard Operating Procedures for conducting communications checks.
- Collecting information from squads returning from patrols and maintaining the FOB Intelligence log.
- Monitoring the progress of ongoing operations.
- Coordinating with the Army Signals Intelligence team that was attached to our FOB in the collecting and dissemination of intelligence for follow up operations.
- Assisting the FOB “Sergeant Major” with maintaining the supplies and logistics of the FOB.
- Assisting the FOB Commander (Our Company Executive Officer) in the conduct of his duties and responsibilities.
- Handeling incoming and outgoing aircraft utilizing our Landing Zone.
- Ensuring all communications equipment were in good working order, including satellites communications and out our Secure Internet connections for Marines to use in calling and communicating with family back home.
- Managing the incoming and outgoing deliveries of supplies and vehicle convoys in and out of the FOB.
During this time, I earned my promotion to Corporal. I was assigned a variety of other smaller duties during this deployment, I gained a tremendous amount of professional experience and skills related to management:
- Organization and structuring of unit
- Allocation of limited resources
- Acquisition of additional resources through coordination with other units.
- Facility management
- Planning and Scheduling of personnel
- Job Identification and Description
- Time management
- Coordination of multiple departments and units during operations.
- Project Planning and development
- Risk management and Master Planning
- Supplies and Logistics Management
- Monitoring and Controlling of Project Execution
- Project closeout
- Operations Management and Continuous Improvement
While gaining experience in these various professional skills, my personal skills increased dramatically as my responsibilities increased and the duties assigned to me became more diverse.
- Leadership and Management skills
- Communication skills
- Coordination and Organizational skills
- Planning and Time Management skills
- Mentoring and Development of Subordinates
We conducted a major operation during this deployment as well, during which I was a HMMWV driver and was placed in charge of the HQ team for maintaining comms watch and assisting the Company Gunny with supplies and logistics. During this deployment, I had found out that I was accepted to the Naval Academy Preparatory school (NAPS). After we returned home in May of 2006, I left to attend NAPS in July. After attending the school for 6 months, I determined that I had made a mistake in choosing this path and voluntarily dropped out. I later re-enlisted and returned to Active Duty Service.