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Operation Enduring Freedom: NAVSUP support for marine aviation.

During 2011, leadership within Marine Aviation Logistics spearheaded a Naval Aviation Enterprise (NAE) initiative to deploy Marine Aviation Logisticians from within the supporting warfare and provider enterprises to Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) to the leverage NAE resources and enhance the combat capability of 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing (Forward) (2nd MAW (FWD)), and Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 40 (MALS-40).

The NAE is supported by the provider enterprises and systems commands, including Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR), Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA), Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR), and Naval Supply Systems Command (NAVSUP).

NAVSUP provided the first two Marine Officers to fill the NAE Officer billet at 2nd MAW (FWD) Aviation Logistics Department (ALD) aboard Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan. I was fortunate to have served as the second officer from within the NAE to deploy in support of OEF. From May to September 2011, my focus was to identify areas of opportunity for leveraging NAVSUP capabilities and improve Marine Aviation Logistics support to 2nd MAW (FWD).

As a staff officer within NAVSUP Headquarters N3/4, Supply Operations and Logistics Policy, I worked on a range of operational logistics support issues.

As a member of the Enterprise Response Team, I had weekly interaction with the operations officers throughout the NAVSUP Enterprise, and worked closely with the NAVSUP Logistics Operations Center (LOC) and Global Logistics Support Operations Department. Working through various projects, exercises, and realworld contingency operations, I quickly learned the capabilities delivered by NAVSUP, and more importantly, the points of contact within the enterprise to effect desired outcomes. These points of contact are NAVSUP's subject matter experts on developing logistics concepts of operations, transportation, distribution, material support, and information systems support.

In the months working up to deployment, I worked with 2nd MAW (FWD) to identify potential projects for the second round of the NAE billet. Four targets of opportunity evolved after close coordination with 2nd MAW (FWD) ALD and discussions with NAVSUP SME's ...

* Access and training for NAVSUP's Average Customer Wait Time (ACWT) Tool

* Increase engagement with Strategic, National, and Service Logistics Partners (TRANSCOM, DLA, Navy)

* Improve transportation of Electronic Key Management System / Communication Security Material

* Validate and improve the Coordinated Shipboard Allowance List (COSAL) for MALS-40

Preparation and Deployment

My knowledge of U.S. Transportation Command (TRANSCOM) and Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) was very limited before I deployed to Afghanistan, so in order to gain additional understanding of the support and capabilities these commands provide, specifically to Marines in OEF, NAVSUP sent me on a quick tour of both organizations.

My first visit was to TRANSCOM Headquarters, and with the assistance of the NAVSUP LOC's TRANSCOM Liaison Officer, I was able to meet the key departments, teams, and points of contact needed to address any strategic transportation and distribution issues while deployed. I met with the following individuals, departments and teams during my visit to Scott Air Force Base ...


* TRANSCOM Navy Liaison Officers (LNO)


* TRANSCOM J4/5 Strategic Plans and Policies (metrics team)

* TRANSCOM J3-G Sustainment Division

* TRANSCOM J3-C Defense Courier Service

* Air Mobility Command (AMC) A4TC - World Wide Express (WWX) Program Manager

* AMC Navy LNO


Each meeting provided valuable insight and better understanding of how these strategic organizations support deployed units. Additionally, the TRANSCOM J4/5 Metrics Team introduced me to their monthly CENTCOM Distribution Process Review (DPR), where Afghanistan transportation and distribution performance was discussed. Within TRANSCOM, they reviewed deployed unit support, and drilled down to 2nd MAW (FWD) specific performance. This proved valuable, and I to attended the monthly brief using Defense Connect Online once in Afghanistan. The TRANSCOM Metrics Team looked forward to hearing directly from the tactical level of how distribution worked in theater to better understand the end-to-end process.

After visiting TRANSCOM, I visited DLA Distribution and Distribution Depot Susquehanna, Pa. (DDSP) in New Cumberland to learn more about the support they provide to Marine Corps units in Afghanistan. This trip provided me with a better understanding of DDSP's role in the transportation process, as the east coast Consolidation and Containerization Point (CCP) and I was introduced to a few of the traffic management specialists who could assist in solving distribution issues. The trips to both TRANSCOM and DLA/DDSP proved invaluable in working through some unique transportation and distribution issues that were identified while I was deployed with 2nd MAW (FWD).

Projects and Outcomes

Average Customer Wait Time (ACWT) Access and Training The objective for the Average Customer Wait Time (ACWT) project was to provide an introduction and training to the aviation logistics Marines with 2nd MAW (FWD) and MALS-40. This web-based tool is used to analyze supply chain performance and can assist units in making decisions on stocking material. This tool also gives users the ability to pull raw supply transaction data, including customer wait time, from NAVSUP's data warehouse and business intelligence tool, giving database users countless ways to review various supply chain performance metrics for their own activity as well as service (Navy and Marine Corps) and national (DLA) sources of supply.

Once in Afghanistan, the ACWT reports were taking too long and errors would occur due to the queries "timing out". This tool is not useful if Marines cannot quickly pull their reports and review the data, so I contacted the ACWT Program Manager at NAVSUP Business Systems Center (BSC) and shared details about the problem. Within a few days, the team at NAVSUP BSC adjusted the tool's database indexes, which fixed the problem and allowed reports to populate within a few minutes. This allowed me to continue with the demonstration and conduct introductory training with both the aviation and ground Marines aboard Camp Leatherneck. Shortly after training, Marines within the Logistics Combat Element were using the ACWT Tool to identify material for stocking in Distribution Depot Kandahar Afghanistan (DDKA). MALS-40 Marines began using the tool to review customer wait times for parts support for specific Type/Model/Series aircraft.


Transportation and Distribution

The objective for the Transportation and Distribution Project was to increase the Aviation Logistics Department's (ALD) engagement with strategic, national (TRANSCOM and DLA), and service (Navy) logistics partners. After visiting TRANSCOM and learning about the monthly CENTCOM DPR, I represented 2nd MAW (FWD) in the review, participating in the June through September sessions. Working with ground supply Marines from the 2nd Marine Logistics Group (MLG) (FWD) and the aviation supply Marines, we conducted an integrated Air-Ground supply team session for the July, August, and September DPR's. This gave both the Marines and TRANSCOM representatives the opportunity to discuss specific issues regarding distribution performance for Marine units in Afghanistan and gave TRANSCOM insight into "last tactical mile" distribution to help them better understand the end-toend process.

Engagement with DLA increased as some cargo routing and addressing issues were identified. 2nd MAW (FWD) supports aircraft operating out of two separate bases in Afghanistan. It is critical to ensure material shipped from the continental United States (CONUS) is shipped properly to the correct airfield to minimize wait times. In monitoring the daily readiness reports, the growing number of misroutes between the two air bases were concerning, as Marines have to catch the material at the WWX hub (for example DHL's hub is Bahrain) in order to attempt to reroute the material to the correct airfield. This created extra workload and often led to longer wait times for high priority requirements. Working with DLA's traffic management specialists at DLA Distribution and DDSP, we identified errors that were causing shipping labels to be printed with the incorrect address. DLA Distribution and DDSP took corrective action to fix these errors, and ultimately reduced the number of times this occurred.


In another area of transportation, MALS-40 identified an increasing number of stock replenishment moving via surface shipments - critical aircraft parts moving via surface channels, which take about 100 days to arrive in theater, compared to the TRANSCOM standard for air channels of 20 days. Further research and coordination with DDSP, and DD Cherry Point (DDCN) indicated that the priority code for these stock replenishments was changed from the original outgoing requisition from MALS-40. These requisitions were leaving MALS-40 as a Priority 05 and arriving at DDCN as a Priority 15, which caused these parts to move to the CCP in New Cumberland for containerization and follow on transport to Norfolk for ocean and surface transit to Afghanistan, adding at least 80 days to the wait time for critical inventory replenishments.

The common link in these requisitions was the sourcing from "NRP" - the routing identifier for Navy ERP. After coordinating with NAVSUP Headquarters Stakeholder Integration Team and WSS, they identified a Navy ERP error and corrective actions were put in place. Additional coordination was made with the CCP to try to intercept any erroneously prioritized stock replenishment for MALS-40. Through increased engagement with DLA and NAVSUP, we were able to identify a systematic issue and get a solution in place.

While researching transportation and distributions issues, I leveraged points of contact at the NAVSUP Logistics Operations Center (LOC), transportation and distribution SMEs who can help identify problems and work to optimize cargo routing in support of deployed naval units. I worked with NAVSUP Headquarters and the LOC to get transportation advocates assigned to assist 2nd MAW (FWD)/MALS-40 in this area. The ALD and MALS-40 Marines now have a valuable transportation resource, and can tap into the network of transportation SME's within the NAVSUP LOC.

Transportation of Electronic Key Management System Material

The MALS-40 Avionics Officer identified two problems with transportation of Communication Security (COMSEC) and EKMS material; one, the material takes too long to arrive (typically between 4 to 7 weeks) and two, shipments have no in-transit visibility (ITV). The objective of this project was to solve both of these problems. The contributing issue was the use of registered mail. Registered mail is not tracked like cargo as it moves through the distribution network. In this case, registered mail destined for Afghanistan, may sit in various hubs awaiting transportation to the next hub in the network, slowly making its way to the final destination, and with no means to track it beyond the fleet post office (FPO).

The first step in this project was to identify the stakeholders in the process, which include the Navy COMSEC Material System (NCMS), COMSEC Material Issuing Office (CMIO), NAVSUP Fleet Logistics Center (FLC) Norfolk, NAVSUP WSS, NAVSUP Headquarters, EKMS Managers, and MALS-40. Additionally, Commander Naval Air Forces Atlantic (CNAL) was included as they are the material expeditors and Marine Aviation Force Supply Officer for aviation supply support to OEF. We initiated a teleconference call to bring the SME's from each command together to review the current process and identify any possible alternatives to registered mail or shipping to improve the situation. Misinterpretation of policy was identified as the primary constraint preventing more effective and efficient transportation of this material.


Once NCMS clarified policy that the supply system (government/ military transportation) was an authorized mode of transport, we worked to map out the new process, which would enable this material to be shipped through the AMC channels like normal cargo. The new process has material shipped from CMIO in Norfolk, Va., to Dover Air Force Base (APOE for OEF) via constant surveillance carrier and manifested on the AMC channel flights that go directly to Bastion Airfield, Afghanistan. Since the shipments are staying within the Defense Transportation System, each requisition now gets a Transportation Control Number (TCN), which Marines can monitor in the IGC system. It was a coordinated effort across all the commands and organizations involved, and the result was a reduction in transportation time from several weeks to seven days while adding 100 percent ITV to the process.

Establishing a Coordinated Shipboard Allowancing List (COSAL)

The objective of the COSAL project was to identify and close gaps in parts support for COSAL supported material. Prior to deploying, I met with the configuration manager for Marine Aviation COSAL at NAVSUP WSS Mechanicsburg. In reviewing the support provided to the forward MALS during Operation IRAQI FREEDOM (OIF), I learned that a COSAL had been created for the forward MALS in Iraq. For OEF, a COSAL had not yet been built specifically for the forward MALS in Afghanistan, which meant gaps may exist in allowancing and parts support for MALS-40. To identify any gaps in COSAL support, an on-site validation of equipment and systems is needed to create the configuration list and ultimately create adjusted or new allowances for a MALS. The COSAL is a critical piece of the MALS support packages, especially in a forward environment, as it lists the repair parts and special tools required to achieve maximum self-supporting capability. In a deployed combat environment, it is critical to be optimally postured to provide the best support to all elements of the Marine Air Wing, which includes communication equipment, weather, air traffic control, aircraft gun systems, and intermediate maintenance activity tools and equipment.

Once in Afghanistan, I worked with the MALS Supply Management Division (SMD) and the supported units including Marine Air Control Group (MACG) 28, Marine Wing Support Squadron (MWSS) 272 to identify their systems and equipment and build the configuration list. I worked closely with NAVSUP WSS Mechanicsburg to ensure the configuration team had the information they needed in order to finalize the configuration list and load it into the database to calculate the COSAL. Once Mechanicsburg had the configuration list finalized, they produced the COSAL and created the allowances for MALS-40. MALS-40 is currently reviewing the allowances and will load these critical items to their database and inventory. The on-site COSAL validation project identified approximately 1,400 line items for allowances, which included both repairable and consumable material, and closed gaps in parts support while providing MALS-40 with a COSAL based on their actual equipment and system footprint in theater.

NAVSUP is closely linked to Marine Aviation as they support the Marine Corps' aviation allowances at the Inventory Control Point, now Weapons Systems Support (WSS) Philadelphia. However, the supply chain for aviation doesn't end at the allowances. The daily replenishment, information systems, transportation and distribution network is supported by the entire NAVSUP Enterprise, including the Global Logistics Support (GLS) Command and Fleet Logistics Centers, the Logistics Operations Center, the Business Systems Center, and various departments within NAVSUP Headquarters.

As the Marine Aviation Logistics Liaison Officer for NAVSUP, it was a great experience to be able to deploy to OEF in support of 2nd MAW (FWD), and coordinate efforts with the many logistics professionals within the NAVSUP Enterprise to improve the logistics support to Marine Aviation in Afghanistan.

By Maj. Robert Flannery, USMC NAVSUP Headquarters, Fleet Logistics Operations
COPYRIGHT 2012 U.S. Department of the Navy, Supply Systems Command
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2012 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Flannery, Robert
Publication:Navy Supply Corps Newsletter
Geographic Code:9AFGH
Date:Jan 1, 2012
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