Jim Carver: Getting it done in Iraq and Afghanistan

The former gunslinger is using the Movement Tracking System to coordinate logistics on the ground in Southwest Asia — and save lives.

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Jim Carver has just returned from a stint in Kuwait, but there’s no time to rest. The troop drawdown in Iraq means he is as busy as ever, coordinating the transportation and return of materials and support through the Army’s Movement Tracking System, a tool that tracks military cargo as it travels the rough terrain of Southwest Asia.

Carver is responsible for fielding and maintaining MTS, which does more than track military goods. In addition to monitoring the Army's vehicles, MTS also tracks their contents and makes all the information visible to the drivers of the cargo trucks, who can then communicate with one another and commanders who oversee the operations. MTS uses the Global Positioning System, radio frequency identification, satellite communications and mapping technologies.

“MTS saves lives in Iraq and Afghanistan by providing a command and control link for units that in that past did not have a communication method,” Carver said. “I’m an ex-combat arms gunslinger, but it’s fascinating what these transportation guys are doing. It’s very modern. They do it just like industry does.”

Carver also trains the MTS operators and directs the system's acquisition, production and post-deployment support. He plans, directs, manages, fields, implements and helps develop all aspects of MTS, in addition to serving as a liaison to the program manager, deputy program manager and other staff members.

It’s a lot of work, but Carver likes it that way. “I’m not an engineer, or an analyst, or a public affairs officer. I’m a get-it-done kind of guy,” he said.

More than 20 years in the Army as a Special Forces noncommissioned officer, punctuated by many short- and no-notice deployments to combat and contingency operations, have solidified Carver’s experience in getting it done.

That experience includes planning and executing a Joint Combined Exchange Training exercise with military forces from Guinea and Mali, in which his skills in speaking French proved effective in training African troops for deployment during a civil war.

He also supported Operation Unified Response after the massive earthquake in Haiti by getting MTS tools on the ground. In addition, he supervised development and deployment of 82 systems to Task Force Sinai for use by multinational forces in Egypt — the first time any such tracking system had been deployed there.

His supervisors say that under Carver’s leadership, Program Manager-MTS has delivered more than 3,200 systems to at least 50 Army units at more than 36 sites around the world in the past year.

“He’s a machine,” said Jose Navarro, an information technology specialist who works for Carver. “Regardless of travel requirements or time zone differences, nothing stops him from working with the teams in the field to get the job done.”

Right now, Carver's focus is on Iraq and Afghanistan. “He has been the driving force in coordinating all MTS requirements in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, while simultaneously directing the drawdown of MTS support to the Central Command in Iraq,” said Gary Winkler, the Army's program executive officer of enterprise information systems, who nominated Carver for the Rising Star award.

“This work is unprecedented, as it is the first time we have executed a simultaneous drawdown and buildup,” Winkler said. “Ultimately, what MTS and Jim Carver have done is provide commanders with a logistics and IT asset that gets the job done and saves lives in the process.”

Carver said he enjoys the work, particularly the team-oriented aspect. “It’s very rewarding to still work with the military. I’m still working with teams that have fun getting things done — not talking about it but getting it done,” he said. “I’ve always been a coalition builder.”

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