BLOUNT ISLAND COMMAND, Jacksonville, Fla. -- Blount Island Command's mission focuses on the planning, equipment attainment, maintenance and sustainment of all Maritime Prepositioning Force and Geographic Prepositioning Force requirements.
Over the past three months, a group of augments from all three Marine Expeditionary Forces and Marine Forces Reserve have combined with BICmd to complete the reconstitution of MPF assets following Operation Iraqi Freedom.
The MPF is comprised of three Maritime Prepositioning Squadrons. Each five-ship squadron provides a Marine air ground task force of approximately 14,000 Marines and Sailors with 30 days of combat equipment and supplies. The need for rapid reconstitution of MPF assets and the augment team that would do much of that work arose from the use of more than two thirds of the Marine Corps' MPF assets during the past year. Eleven MPF ships were offloaded and the gear utilized during OIF while five more were recently off-loaded for OIF II.
The overall mission of the augments while assigned to BICmd has been to increase MPF equipment readiness and decrease overall maintenance cycle time to speed up the reconstitution efforts. The total process of reconstitution includes the modification of the MPF planning, developing and maintaining supply lines, assembling supporting personnel and equipment, deployment, site development, reorganizing forces and redistributing resources.
The augments have been working on the most significant part of this process - the regeneration and replenishment of equipment and supplies back onto the prepositioning ships.
"Mission accomplishment for the detachment of augments means that the Marines deploying to Iraq for OIF II will get the best equipment possible," said CWO3 Jeffery V. Farmer, officer in charge, BICmd augment team. "In addition, we know that future operations will also have the benefit of utilizing the assets that we helped to reconstitute back into the MPF."
The reconstitution effort began during the summer of 2003 in Kuwait following the completion of the combat phase of OIF. BICmd teamed up with the MPF MAGTF Kuwait, to recover the assets used during OIF. The BICmd augments have combined with the Marines, Sailors, government employees, and civilian contractors that comprise BICmd to complete the reconstitution process that began almost a year ago.
The actual work to recover as much of the MPF capability as quickly as possible began with BICmd and II MEF mapping out all personnel and support requirements needed to get the augments on deck at BICmd. BICmd also had to plan for the workflow between the primary contractor and the augment Marines, as well as ensure the proper parts, supplies and tools needed to support all the additional work being done were available and in place.
"The MEFs were largely responsible for providing the additional Marines needed to assist with the reconstitution efforts," said Connie S. Miner, director, Logistics Division, BICmd. "In addition to providing the personnel to accomplish the mission, they also gave us input and support throughout the planning stages."
When the BICmd augments first arrived aboard Blount Island, facilities to accommodate an additional 110 maintenance personnel were yet to be established.
In order to conduct the additional work that would be required to complete the reconstitution of the MPF, temporary maintenance facilities, staging areas and workspaces all had to be constructed.
Once Blount Island had been outfitted with the facilities to begin the regeneration efforts, the augments were still faced with five ships worth of equipment that had to be processed through maintenance. In the initial stages of the operation, the large amounts of equipment staged almost everywhere aboard Blount Island created a shortage of space making it difficult to work on the equipment.
The BICmd augments primary focus of labor has been to complete first echelon maintenance and limited second echelon maintenance on all assets being prepared for back load operations. This included Limited Technical Inspections, SL-3 inventories, replacing all fluids and filters, researching and completing parts requisition forms, building equipment records, taking oil samples for the Joint Oil Analysis Program, and replacing all batteries.
The equipment the augments have been performing maintenance on includes almost every type of rolling stock in the Marine Corps' inventory. They have completed work on Logistic Vehicle Systems, all variants of Highly Mobile Multi-Wheeled Vehicle, MTVRs, M970 Refuelers, M1A1 Main Battle Tanks, Amphibious Assault Vehicles, Light Armored Assault Vehicles, P-19 Crash Fire Rescue Vehicles, M88A1E1 Hercules Recovery Vehicles, Bridge Boats, cranes, earth movers, and all variants of generators. To date, maintenance has been performed on over 3500 Principle End Items.
A big portion of the reconstitution work the BICmd augments have been toiling to complete is the extensive replenishment and maintenance of the MPF equipment that was not completed in Kuwait. These repairs were not possible in theatre due to the harsh environment and lack of facilities needed to replenish the war torn-gear. The significantly damaged or degraded equipment and supplies are currently being replaced during the maintenance cycle aboard Blount Island.
Despite the obstacles, the augment team recently completed work backloading its sixth MPF ship since arriving aboard Blount Island. BICmd leadership believes that if the current level of effort and progress continues the MPF capability will be restored to approximately two-thirds of it's original state of readiness by May 2004.
"A recent photograph of equipment being offloaded in Kuwait for future operations in Iraq has given the Marines of the augment team a true feeling of mission accomplishment," CWO Farmer said.