AL ASAD, Iraq -- While U.S. service members continue the fight against insurgents in Iraq, the equipment to help succeed in the mission cannot always be found in the immediate supply system, but there are ways to get the items to the squadrons.
Squadrons deployed to Iraq with Marine Aircraft Group 16 (Reinforced), 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, can use either a Blanket Purchase Agreement or a Field Ordering Officer budget to get the items they need.
"We support the squadrons' needs as far as supplies that they can't get through the regular supply system," said Staff Sgt. Allen W. Mullis, fiscal officer. "We can't get them everything they need, but we can get items like lights, shower units and administrative supplies."
The BPA allows a squadron to order supplies in bulk ranging from printers to cement and gravel, while the FOO budget is strictly used for emergency needs, according to Cpl. Efren A. Olivasmendoza, noncommissioned officer-in-charge, fiscal.
"The FOO is for items that a squadron needs right now," said Olivasmendoza, an El Paso, Texas, native. "If a squadron needs power converters to keep their equipment running, they come to us, because these are items that they can't wait 30 days to get."
The FOO budget is an allowance for units on deployment to make small emergency purchases that do not exceed $2,500 per purchase. The FOO covers emergency needs such as equipment repairs, refuse collection and non-potable water. Utilizing the FOO budget, the fiscal office can get most of the items squadrons need locally if approved by I Marine Expeditionary Force as an emergency need by the squadron.
"When a squadron needs immediate supplies, they submit their requests through supply," said Mullis, a Tampa, Fla., native. "From there it is forwarded to us and we contact the local vendors to get it."
The fiscal office takes the request and sends it through local vendors to get a cost estimate of the items. Depending on the urgency of the request, another factor in the evaluation process is how quickly the items can be purchased.
"We balance a budget allotted from 3rd MAW for the vendors that we deal with," Olivasmedoza said. "We take that money and spread it among the vendors, depending on what items we need and what vendor can get the best price in an adequate amount of time."
Although the fiscal office has maintained squadrons in a similar fashion back in the United States, their job has become more vital and the amount of units they must support has increased.
According to Mullis, the main difference between fiscal's job here, vice in the States, is that the vendors they work with are local Iraqis and they do not handle funding of temporary additional duty orders.
"In a way, the money we pay to the vendors goes back into the local Iraqi community," said Mullis. "They get the supplies we need from Baghdad, Kuwait and other areas to supply us with what we need. The money we spend is going into the local economy, so it benefits our units and the Iraqi economy at the same time.
"Dealing with the local vendors and understanding the way they do business has helped a lot," continued Mullis. "The vendors give us 100 percent of their efforts. They go above and beyond to help fill the needs of our units. They are very professional and their support for our service members is outstanding."
While supporting the squadrons here, the fiscal Marines have worked with Iraqis, Turks and Americans on a normal basis, to provide for service members fighting the War on Terrorism.