MARINE CORPS LOGISTICS BASE ALBANY,Ga. -- As Operation Enduring Freedom continues, four separate Marine Corps commands were called upon during the Christmas holidays to complete a critical task that became more challenging as the days went by.
Beginning Dec. 26, 2002, members from Marine Corps Logistics Bases [Albany, Ga., and Barstow, Calif.] worked closely with Marines and civilian-Marines of the Marine Corps Systems Command [Quantico, Va.], the First Maintenance Battalion and the First Combat Engineer Battalion [Camp Pendleton, Calif.] to support the operation.
The team was tasked with modifying 18 M9 Armored Combat Earthmovers at Camp Pendleton. To complete the mission, several members from each command traveled west to complete the month-long endeavor. But the initially estimated 30-day task quickly became more urgent.
"The completion date moved closer twice," said James Adams, Marine Corps Systems Command project coordinator. Systems Command was the customer for the high priority Marine Corps project.
"Initially, there was a completion date of Jan. 23," Adams said. "By the time the modification team hit the ground [in California] that was changed to Jan. 18. Then, just a couple days later, it moved to Jan. 15.Ó
According to Adams, the constant movement of the required completion date added to the urgency of the task. For the next several days, personnel from the four commands worked around the clock, ordering, repairing, checking and preparing for shipment the equipment for the M9 ACE modification project. Although the four commands completed this mission within the time frames required, Adams said there were a few hurdles along the way.
"When the completion date was reduced, the team went to a two-shift rotation," Adams said. "Working 24 hours a day, seven days a week, the team split the two shifts. They started on Jan. 6 and finished Jan. 12, three days prior to the deadline.
One of the problems Adams described was the dwindling Marine workforce. The number of personnel kept being reduced due to deployments and other current affairs.
"To offset losing those good Marines, the civilian workforce was increased, using folks from Barstow, which was the closest maintenance repair depot," he said.
Adams also pointed out that almost all the ACEs required some maintenance work beyond the scope of the work requested. Yet, regardless of what came up, the Marines and civilian-Marines rose to the occasion.
"All problems that arose beyond the scope of work were resolved in such a manner that avoided work stoppages," Adams said. "The modification team did outstanding work and exceeded the overall project completion date by three days. I have nothing but praise for the whole effort."
The efforts of four separate Marine Corps organizations working as a single unit highlight the vast capabilities of America's 9-1-1 force Ð both on the home front and in theater, said Adams.Col. Steve Foreman, commander of the Maintenance Center at Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany, Ga., agrees.
"This illustrates how our depots work together and adapt to the rapidly changing needs of our Fleet Marine Forces," Foreman said. "The delivery date on this requirement revolved around very short time frames, and the modification team had the gear ready even before it was required. This type of responsiveness is just one example of why our depots are an integral Department of Defense resource."
The M9 is an armored, amphibious, combat earthmover. The vehicle is used for bulldozing, hauling, scraping and excavating. According to Adams, the Marine Corps first used the M9 during Operation Desert Storm to breech beams, backfill tank traps, and in general road construction. The vehicle has the capability to doze, grade and transfer dirt from one location to another. The fully-tracked vehicle is highly mobile, air transportable, travels on land up to 30 m.p.h., and in water up to 3 m.p.h. The M9 has a gross weight of 54,000 lbs.