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Marine logistics command strives for efficiency.

A continuous stream of equipment and supplies leaves the port of mount Island Command, in Jacksonville, Fla., to support Marine Corps operations around the world. In addition, equipment arrives from overseas conflicts to be repaired, reconstituted, regenerated or replaced.

"We preposition enough equipment and supplies on each squadron to support 14,403 Marines and Sailors for 30 days of sustained combat," said William H. (Chip) Newton, deputy director of Blount Island Command "When you combine the three squadrons you get a very formidable combat capability."

Blount Island Command focuses on the maintenance and support of all Maritime Pre-positioning Ships. It also provides technical assistance to Marine Expeditionary Force commanders for all aspects of planning and deployment.

Col. Carl D. Matter, commanding officer of Blount Island Command, said that "maritime pre-positioning allows us flexibility and permits us to project power during a crisis anywhere in the world. With the Third World in crisis situations and the global war on terrorism, that is essential."

Blount Island is a subordinate organization of the Marine Corps Logistics Command, headquartered in Albany, Ga. Led by Maj. Gen. Harold Mashburn Jr., the command supports the operations of the Marine Corps in every country in which forces are deployed.

"We are ready to handle the regeneration of equipment, both that which remained behind in CONUS (the continental United States) and the equipment coming in from the back-loaded ships at Blount Island," said Mashburn.

The Logistics Command supports the Marine Corps concept of Expeditionary Maneuver Warfare, or EMW,, to be able to respond rapidly to critical situations worldwide. That means getting to the fight by land, sea or air and supporting the Marines in battle with activities such as rapid acquisition and sustainment.

"Our job is to make sure the Marines are supplied with the equipment they need and then re-supply them when they are redeployed to meet the enemy in a new area," Mashburn said.

Watching the loading and unloading of ships on Blount Island, logistics experts usually can tell whether a piece of equipment has returned from Iraq, Afghanistan, Liberia or elsewhere.

The Marine Corps pre-positions supplies and equipment in four areas--Norway, the eastern Mediterranean, Guam in the western Pacific and Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean. From those four locations, the Corps can deploy anywhere in the world on short notice. The fleet consists of 16 ships that rotate through Blount Island over a 36-month cycle. The equipment and supplies from those 16 ships are downloaded and undergo maintenance and stock replenishment and then return to their designated location.

Maintenance centers in Albany, Ga., and Barstow, Calif., play a significant role in taking equipment from the field and rebuilding or repairing it to go back out to the field. The depot in Albany primarily supports Marine Corps forces east of the Mississippi River and the Atlantic Fleet. The Barstow depot primarily supports the Marine Corps forces west of the Mississippi, the Far East and Asia.

To shorten the repair cycle, the Marines have applied modern management techniques and business practices. The results have been dramatic, officials said. For example, the repair cycle time for the MK-48 logistics vehicle went from 162 days to 59 days, and the repair cycle time for the LAV-25 armored vehicle went from 212 days to 121.

Cultural changes have been the toughest, said Mashburn. Continuous improvement is now the norm.

The money saved by shortening the repair cycles now is being applied to modernization efforts. For example, the Marine Corps was able to add 30 MK-48s to the fiscal year 2002 budget, in addition to 10 MK15 trailers, four LAV-25s, two refurbished LAVs and four MK17 trailers.

Albany has reduced repair cycle rimes by at least 50 percent for most production lines, and cut down the number of assets in maintenance by up to 50 percent, officials said. Many within the Department of Defense system now are benchmarking against them.

Trent Blalock, deputy commander of the Albany Maintenance Center, said things have improved so much that "in the last year, there hasn't been one grievance ... morale is good, and union relations are excellent."

Safety is the number one priority:. Since the changes have been made, mishaps are down 26 percent, and lost time accidents are down 42 percent.

Marty Huisman, of the Maintenance Directorate, describes the center as "the weaving of a web to support the war fighter."

The Supply Chain Management Center plans, organizes and manages wholesale and selected retail supply chain activities to meet Marine Corps requirements. It also maintains a supply chain consisting of weapons systems support contractors, retail supply activities, distribution depots, transportation channels including contracted carriers, wholesale integrated materiel managers, weapon system product support integrators, commercial distributors and suppliers. The supply chain operation is the "lifeline for Marine Corps operations."

Logistics Command expertise plays a major role in Iraq. Several command representatives are in theater, helping solve problems and managing logistics operations. The Supply Chain Management Center sent a liaison team to link with the logistics operation in theater. The Maintenance Center sent a team to Kuwait to assess vehicle status and decide which vehicles needed to be sent stateside for repair.

Priority systems for repair and support include the M1A1 tanks, AAVs, LAVs and howitzers. Under the so-called "Remain Behind Equipment Program," the command wants to ensure that the equipment lost in combat is replaced. The Maintenance Center expedited more than 4,000 requests. LAVs, M-16s, Aardvark mine clearing vehicles and M198 howitzers have all been expedited.

The Albany Maintenance Center also developed BA5590 battery replacement kits, which were urgently requested from the field.

"LogCom really has one main strength," Mashburn said. "It's our people. They make things happen. As long as they remain engaged, we'll be fine--regardless of the changes we're undergoing."

The Marine Corps Logistics Command recently was formed out of two command structures to integrate the global Marine Corps logistics, maintenance management, supply chain management, distribution management and strategic pre-positioning functions.

Reporting to the new Logistics Command are five subordinate commands: the Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany; the Marine Corps Logistics Base Barstow, the Blount Island Command, the Albany Maintenance Center and the Barstow Maintenance Center.

Shiela R. Ronis, Ph.D., is president of the University Group, Inc., in Birmingham, Mich.
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Author:Ronis, Sheila R.
Publication:National Defense
Date:Nov 1, 2003
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