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Marine Corps Systems Commands scope far-reaching, critical

By Regina Hegwood | | June 13, 2000

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Authors note: The following article is intended to provide a birds eye view of the compelling mission and functions of Systems Command. Future articles will address the various Systems Command directorates and how they work and integrate with Marine Corps Logistics Bases directorates to accomplish the Materiel Command mission.
Elements of the Marine Corps Systems Command reach across the North American continent, from Quantico, Va. to Camp Pendleton, Calif., and to Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany, Ga.
However, the work performed by Systems Command personnel, as well as its quality, are no less impressive.
The organization is recognized as  among the best within the Department of Defense.
Its structure is as complex as its mission, which has been condensed into the following statement:
To serve as the Commandants principal agent for equipping the operating forces with the weapon systems, munitions and materiel they need to accomplish their warfighting mission.
In other words, when the Corps operating forces identify a requirement for new gear, somebody at Systems Command -- depending on the nature of the requirement  either develops a new piece of equipment or finds a way to meet that need with existing equipment.
Lawrence P. Kreitzer, deputy director at SysCom, discussed some of the reasons the organizations processes are so complex.
When the program managers develop a new piece of equipment, Kreitzer explained, that equipment must meet Marine Corps requirements. During the development stage, we evaluate the progress at milestone stages -- a point where we evaluate the development, the difficulties we face in compldeting it, and determine whether further development is practical and feasible. Brigadier General [James M.] Feigley [SysCom Commander] has milestone authority for most programs. Although the need for upgrading the Amphibious Assault Vehicle was identified several years ago, the Advanced Amphibious Assault Vehicle is still under development. (See related story, page 2.)
Experts are working out the vehicles final details and expect it to be in production within the next few years. Meanwhile, the AAV upgrade, which is a Systems Command program, in being done to ensure it remains a viable weapon system until the AAAV becomes available to Marines in the Fleet Marine Force.
We turn requirements into gear, Lt. Col. John J. Bryant of SysComs Ground Weapons Directorate said succinctly. Equally important, SysCom provides the program support needed to put that gear into the hands of Marines in the Fleet Marine Force.
Acquisition commands throughout the Department of Defense have undergone enormous change during the past 10 years, said Col. James E. Vesely, SysCom chief of staff, because of the post-Cold War environment. The old industrial way of doing business no longer works.
SysCom is changing along with the federal governments acquisition reform  were changing the way we do business; were hiring different kinds of people, Vesely continued.
Not only is SysCom responding to the need for change, were flourishing in the new business environment.
Although SysCom was established 13 years ago as a vital proponent in Marine Corps acquisition, the organization was aligned under Materiel Command when  the new MatCom organization became operational Sept. 1, 1999.
Former Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Charles C. Krulak combined the Corpss two major equipment support elements  SysCom and Marine Corps Logistics Bases  under a single commander to streamline operations.
Accordingly, some LogBases life cycle management functions were realigned under SysCom, bringing clarity of focus to all concerned, but maintaining the balance that is possible only under the corporate MatCom concept and in keeping with streamlining processes being conducted throughout DoD.
The U.S. Marine Corps Systems Command is the youngest command of its kind in the Department of the Navy, Vesely said, probably within the Department of Defense.
But, according to Vesely, SysCom continues to evolve, becoming more effective and more efficient, conducting strategic planning to facilitate the revolutionary changes needed to meet the challenges of the 21st century, and integrating SysCom goals into the MatCom vision.
Whether its developing a new weapon or upgrading 782 gear with cell phones that fit into a 2x6-inch plastic strip, Systems Command personnel are working hard to put the best weapon systems and the latest technology into the hands of Marines, thereby enhancing Marine Corps warfighting capabilities.
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