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Face of Defense: Deployed NCO Hones Managerial Skills

By Army Sgt. Mary S. Katzenberger
U.S. Division Center

BAGHDAD, Oct. 14, 2010 – Army Staff Sgt. Michael Garutti is no stranger to wearing multiple hats. When stateside, the infantryman wears the hats of noncommissioned officer, squad leader, husband and father.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Army Staff Sgt. Michael Garutti, an infantryman with the 3rd Infantry Division, 69th Armor Regiment, works on a structure he built to store petroleum, oil and lubricant products at Joint Security Station al Rashid in Baghdad. Garutti serves as the security station’s mayor and contracting officer representative. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Mary S. Katzenberger
  

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

However, when Garutti deployed here in late 2009, he had no idea he would be handed two additional hats -- those of joint security station mayor and contracting officer representative. He wore the hats first at Joint Security Station Istiqlal in northeast Baghdad, and later, at Joint Security Station al Rashid in the city’s al Rashid district, while deployed with the 3rd Infantry Division’s 1st Advise and Assist Brigade, 69th Armor Regiment, 3rd Battalion.

“Being an infantry squad leader, [this] definitely wasn’t what I expected to be doing over here,” Garutti said. “A lot of people skills and managerial skills come into play.”

For the past nine months, Garutti, a Merritt Island, Fla., native, has juggled mayoral duties -- managing daily operations and life support for the bases -- as well as contracting officer representative duties. As a COR, Garutti has served as the “eyes on site” at both joint security stations to ensure U.S. government contractors deliver the services they’ve been contracted to provide. Garutti said the two positions are “a totally different animal.”

A typical day for Garutti involves inspecting the work performed by Iraqi contractors, monitoring fuel usage and water consumption, issuing supplies, and occasionally learning a new trade.

“I came here and had to build quite a few things just out of necessity,” Garutti said. “I’ve learned carpentry by Google and trial-and-error.”

Since moving to JSS al Rashid in May, Garutti has constructed a flight of wooden stairs and a containment area for petroleum- and oil-based products. He also has partitioned off a room to provide more billeting space.

The most challenging aspect of being a mayor and a COR, Garutti said, has been learning how to work through cultural differences with the Iraqi laborers and business owners.

“You have to know how to work with people,” he said.

Garutti said he always maintains a sense of pride in what he accomplishes.

“I’ve shown my command that I can get the job done,” he said. “I’ve got people that count on me to do the work I need to do. If I fail at that, they don’t get what they need.”

 

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