MARINE CORPS LOGISTICS BASE ALBANY, Ga., --
“When Marine officers and staff noncommissioned officers check into Military Ops, I tell them there are two duties you do not screw up; that’s the pistol range because that’s safety, and funeral details because we always honor those that have gone before us,” Bob James, director, Operations & Training Division, explained.
A retired Marine, James who served the Corps for 24 years, is quite familiar with the Marine Corps way of doing things. He stepped into his current position nine years ago.
“We’re very much an integral piece of Colonel (James C.) Carroll (MCLB Albany Commanding Officer) staff and his mission,” James pointed out.
A team of 20 military and civilian personnel in the division helps facilitate operations with the other sections on the base.
From ceremonial events to civilian and military training, there are four critical areas within the Operations & Training Division:
Communication Strategy & Operations Office
The Communication Strategy & Operations Office – formerly known as the Public Affairs Office, or PAO – is responsible for telling the Marine Corps story to both internal and external audiences. Personnel are also depended upon to provide timely and accurate information to the media for dissemination to the general public.
The Base Operations function monitors and coordinates mandatory and elective training for the civilian and military workforce. For civilians, it could range anywhere between a required sexual harassment training to the Civilian Leadership Development Program. For military personnel, it could be their physical fitness test, or PFT, to basic marksmanship training.
“We want to keep a well-trained workforce, but also provide an opportunity to grow,” James said.
Ops personnel also host hundreds of special events every year, with the annual Independence Day celebration drawing the largest crowd of nearly 10,000 people from the community and surrounding areas.
Mission Assurance Branch
The Mission Assurance Branch is a relatively new concept. In fact, according to James, every base has one. And MCLB Albany’s ensures the safety and security of the base, which speaks directly to Carroll’s mission. The MAB is not only about providing training for active shooter scenarios, but it also prepares personnel for natural disasters. Every year, mission assurance staff conduct various full-scale exercises that have proven to be beneficial when a real-life crisis occurs, such as when the EF3 tornado ripped through the base in January 2017.
“We were really prepared when the tornado struck,” James pointed out, adding, “The training and all that had been done prior certainly came in handy.”
Other key areas in the MAB include running the Emergency Operations Center, tracking valuable equipment, and reviewing critical infrastructure.
This appears to be the one responsibility James holds near and dear to his heart – a deceased Marine’s right to a proper military burial.
According to James, anyone who served honorably in the Marine Corps – whether it was for one day or 30 years – the Operations & Training Division is responsible for the funeral details of that Marine if he or she lives within a two and a half hour radius from the installation.
“Last year, our Marines conducted about 130 military funerals,” James revealed, “and this year we are already on track to exceed that number.
“We’ve got an 18- or 19-year-old Marine kneeling down in front of a widow or the mother of a deceased Marine presenting the American flag, that’s always amazing me with the level of maturity and respect shown by our young Marines, and it’s something I’m very proud of,” James concluded.