Maximizing Materiel Readiness through Standards Competence
From Armor & Mobility/October 2017
Major General Craig C. Crenshaw
U.S. Marine Corps Logistics Command
Major General Craig C. Crenshaw, Commanding General, U.S. Marine Corps Logistics Command (MARCORLOGCOM), Albany, GA, spoke recently with Armor & Mobility (A&M) regarding current and forward-looking efforts that MARCORLOGCOM is undertaking to expand on Marine Air-Ground Task Force (MAGTF) readiness to address complex U.S. defense needs across a rapidly changing geo-political landscape.
A&M: From a Marine Corps-wide perspective, what are some current MARCORLOGCOM focal efforts addressing force challenges to providing Marines the latest in combat materiel readiness?
Maj. Gen. Crenshaw: In order to ensure materiel readiness remains high in the operating forces, Marine Corps Logistics Command (MARCORLOGCOM) integrates supply, maintenance, distribution, and prepositioning support capabilities. The collective goal is ensuring that the entire force stays ready and can project combat power with all the logistical support that is required to be effective. By supporting efforts to sustain and regenerate the highest levels of combat readiness, forward deployed forces – along with those in training at home stations – benefit from the efforts of this command.
To do so, and maintain uncompromised standards, continued focus on maximizing materiel readiness involves service partnerships, overflow maintenance support, modular depot capabilities, and enhanced technological solutions.
Through a partnership with Army Materiel Command, MARCORLOGCOM can leverage their contracted support capabilities in theater to address requirements that cannot be met by the organic maintenance capabilities of deployed units.
Support for deployed forces is availed through an overflow maintenance support (OMS) concept. Given a demand signal from anywhere in the world, organic maintenance capabilities are put on target to support the immediate mission, while government artisans and contracted workforce build out the task-organized, tailor-made support package.
A more robust application of the OMS concept is the command’s vision of a deployable depot package. This is a medium to heavy maintenance package comprised of modular facilities containing a package of tension fabric structures, power generation, climate control, containerized tooling and support equipment, mobile welding/machine shop, mobile tire repair, armory, optics repair, and reverse engineering, additive manufacturing, and supporting equipment.
Leveraging technologies allows “speed to count” warehouse inventorying without creating another independent or stove-piped, enterprise wide system. MARCORLOGCOM deals with the task of conducting warehouse inventories on the macro scale, as smaller operational units manage it on a micro scale. Here, the technological and procedural solutions will ultimately be one in the same.
A&M: As DoD requirements for greater Joint force integration continue to gain emphasis, how is MARCORLOGCOM working to address added complexities faced with implementing next-generation logistics solutions while maintaining connectivity with legacy and separate Joint and coalition systems?
Maj. Gen. Crenshaw: The unpredictability of today’s operating environment – by its nature Joint and Combined – demands a flexible force with logisticians who are at the cutting edge of modern supply chain management. To capitalize on opportunities and mitigate challenges posed by this environment, the Marine Corps has introduced a hybrid mix of legacy and evolving capabilities.
Likewise, MARCORLOGCOM employs a hybrid logistics approach, blending tried and true legacy capabilities with new cutting-edge concepts to ensure uninterrupted support. A successful hybrid approach requires a logistics community that embraces innovation and change, with an appreciation for the realities of the modern battlefield. We confront these realities by:
- leveraging available information technology systems and in-transit visibility technologies;
- incorporating predictive and autonomic sensors, and analytical capabilities into equipment;
- conducting modeling and demand forecasting on supply chains;
- positioning stocks globally where they are likely needed;
- conducting detailed planning to anticipate and minimize uncertainty; and
- training to fully understand how to effectively employ these capabilities to meet mission objectives.
Some examples of how we are preparing for the Joint fight while strengthening proven fundamentals, include:
Increased pre-deployment training. Since January 2015, the Marine Corps Logistics Operations Group (MCLOG) has been the lead agent in planning and executing the Expeditionary Logistics (EXLOG) program for Marine Expeditionary Units (MEUs) and Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Forces (SPMAGTFs); select Marine Components; and increasingly stand-alone organizations with requirements for rapid deployment and utilization of joint, inter-service, and host nation capabilities. These seminars filled an identified gap in knowledge arising after extended involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan. Today, MCLOG provides MEU Logistics Continuum and SPMAGTF seminars for all units preparing to deploy, providing theater, regional, interagency, multinational, and service-specific content to prepare units for afloat and land-based deployments.
Increased teamwork within the supply chain. As the Department of Defense’s (DoD) largest supplier, it is crucial for MARCORLOGCOM to maintain a good collaborative relationship with its largest logistics support agency, Defense Logistics Agency (DLA), to identify new and improved functional and enabling supply concepts. Open communication has led to new and creative ways to improve the accuracy of inventory at forward deployed DLA distribution depots, as well as improve our own service-held stocks based on divesting ourselves of DLA available stocks and collaborating to improve demand planning.
Implemented web-based solution. The Marine Corps is the first (and currently the only) service to implement a web-based logistics solution which provides the backbone for all logistics information required by Marine forces and supporting establishments. The Global Combat Support System Marine Corps (GCSS-MC) is an Oracle e-Business 11i Suite application that replaced five legacy supply and maintenance information technology systems. This commercial off-the-shelf enterprise planning software currently supports approximately 22,000 users worldwide. Future functionality will augment capabilities in the areas of warehousing, distribution, decision support, depot maintenance, and integration with emerging technologies to improve asset visibility.
A&M: With the implementation of next-generation technology upgrades to accommodate increased capabilities, how is MARCORLOGCOM leading Joint USMC/Navy efforts to keep the logistics network as seamless as possible for Joint Force Commanders that require it?
Maj. Gen. Crenshaw: Marine Corps Logistics Command supports service-level efforts to provide the Joint Force commander with a capable, interoperable, naval force through a cooperative effort between the Navy and Marine Corps to improve logistics and increase the synergy of our services as we execute our respective missions. Naval Logistics Integration and MAGTF Logistics Integration (NLI/MLI) Teams are focused on enhancing internal MAGTF integration and promoting external MAGTF capabilities and integration with the Navy in support of expeditionary operations, all of which are guided by two primary operating principles:
First, to promote a more expeditionary approach to operations by minimizing the logistics footprint ashore, planning for sustainment from the sea, leveraging non-traditional naval platforms and minimizing large scale shore basing.
The second principle focuses on maximizing organic capabilities and capacities through naval integration. This is accomplished by tailoring sustainment to support mission packages in disaggregated operations, leveraging and complementing both Naval and DoD material distribution networks, and conducting billet exchanges between the Navy and Marine Corps so personnel understand the processes they are supporting, or that support them.
These principles are operationalized through positioning of Marine expeditors at overseas Navy Fleet Logistics Centers, conducting Supply Management Readiness Reviews with deployed units, using the Navy Advanced Traceability and Control process for the retrograding of USMC secondary reparables for deployed units, providing analysis to support the development of effective class IX blocks, and contributing to the standardization of a supply chain performance measurement dashboard.
A&M: From an industry partnering perspective, how is MARCORLOGCOM working to maximize outcomes from business relationships critical to force capabilities?
Maj. Gen. Crenshaw: Marine Corps Logistics Command’s industry partners are an integral part of our ability to provide integrated maintenance solutions. Specifically, creative maintenance strategies are used when the workload being introduced either exceeds organic capacity, conflicts with lines of production or in order to comply with statutory requirements. Capacities and capabilities of organic Depots, other-service depots, and commercial sources are used to conduct depot level repairs and sustain the Marine Corps for the next contingency.
Utilizing the commercial segment for depot-level repair options ensures we get the most out of industry’s best practices, and allows us to leverage their innovative processes for maintenance. By drawing on approximately 30 commercial sources of repair, in many cases we are able to capitalize on their lessons learned and replicate their processes in our organic depot.
MARCORLOGCOM also benefits from industry partnering through benchmarking. Visits to various industry leaders provide an opportunity to explore best practices in consideration for our Depots.
Looking to academia for insights and best practices, the command is currently working with Pennsylvania State University for research and development of a modernization plan for depot-level maintenance facilities, processes and operations. Their expertise in industrial operations and technology encompasses essentially everything from how we run our depot, industrial program and facility, down to operations on the shop floor.
A&M: Feel free to speak to other forward-looking goals/challenges.
Maj. Gen. Crenshaw: MARCORLOGCOM continues to evolve to meet the challenges of the future operating environment while remaining a good steward of government resources. Over the past year, an operational planning team was established to identify initiatives to help posture Marine Corps Logistics Command for the 21st Century.
Using the priorities that I established for my Command, existing policy, and strategic guidance, the planning team’s goal was to ensure the command was organized, staffed, trained, and funded to support future requirements. This resulted in a number of initiatives such as transitioning the MARCORLOGCOM staff to a G-structure, and creation of a G-4 to oversee physical inventory and maintenance requirements. Other recent initiatives include:
Accountability Improvements. Since MARCORLOGCOM stores approximately 25 percent of the Marine Corps military equipment and 10 percent of the operating materiel and supplies, it is critical to maintain accountability and visibility across the more than 30 inventory segments located worldwide. In order to do this effectively, a Physical Inventory Control Division was established to oversee all aspects of the physical inventory control program.
Implementation of GCSS-MC. MARCORLOGCOM is moving toward placing all of the Command’s mission critical assets, military equipment, operating materials and supplies into GCSS-MC. This effort will put the entire Marine Corps into a single accountable property system of record from which Enterprise inventory managers can manage lifecycle equipment sourcing requirements from initial acquisition to final disposal. GCSS-MC will provide improved accountability for Command-owned materiel with increased visibility and service-level transparency through enterprise-wide integration.
Depot of the 21st Century. This initiative is about embracing new technology and innovative approaches, promoting a skilled workforce, and maximizing the return on readiness investment. Marine Depot Maintenance Command (MDMC) provides a comprehensive source of expeditionary technical competence and resources necessary to ensure rapid, effective, and economical depot maintenance capabilities to respond to mobilization, national defense contingency situations, and other often unpredictable emergent requirements. Industry leaders have been identified in innovation, technology, academia, and process improvement and are benchmarking and adopting best business practices to continually move the depot forward. To ensure this capability continues to meet the demands of the dynamic battlefield of tomorrow, our depot will be an innovative, technology driven organization that provides effective, efficient and economical maintenance and business solutions. To this end, the Depot has begun:
- inserting additive manufacturing capabilities, such as metal and polymer 3D printing, which allows the depot to transform supply chains, fabricate prototypes, rapidly generate materials and parts, and empower customization with complex geometries.
- modernizing the information backbone by consolidating and replacing legacy systems, implementing wireless networks, and incorporating mobile computing devices which will deliver critical production information closer to the point-of-use.
- implementing new technology to create a safer working environment through the use of zero gravity lifting devices.
- working actively with academia to review shop floor layouts and processes to engineer out safety risks and optimize process flows to increase efficiencies.
Implementation of approved initiatives has begun and is expected to be ongoing through fiscal year 2018.
Whether it is the latest in inventory management technology or forward-looking maintenance concepts, MARCORLOGCOM’s focus remains finding ways to ensure sustained materiel readiness at the point of need. What we do on a daily basis has immediate effects across the entire Marine Corps enterprise and a lasting influence on our militaries’ ability to meet their national security roles.