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Materiel Commmand -- where its been, where its headed

By Cpl. Michael Kjaer | | May 11, 2000

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The Marine Corps Materiel Command stood up in September 1999. It was a revolutionary step in a long road to consolidating Marine Corps materiel management. Although the consolidation has come a long way, the process is not complete. MatCom will continue to change and evolve as it grows, integrates and personnel discover how it can best serve the needs of the Corps.
The plans initial creation consisted of appointing a commanding general with logistical knowledge to the position of Commander of MatCom, and giving him the latitude and resources to create MatCom as he believed would best serve the needs of the Marine Corps.
Lt. Gen. Gary McKissock (then a major general), former Commander of MarCorLogBases, began assembling the organization that would be responsible for all materiel in the Corps from the conception of the equipment or materiel until it is phased out and no longer kept in the inventory.
McKissock laid the groundwork and began developing MatCom while still serving as Commander of Marine Corps Logistics Bases. However, personnel at HQMC determined that Marine Corps Logistics Bases and MatCom both rated their own commanders.
Accordingly, McKissock was assigned as deputy chief of staff for Installations and Logistics at HQMC changed command. Two general officers assumed the duties of his previous commands.
Maj. Gen. Paul M. Lee Jr., was appointed as the first commander exclusively in charge of MatCom Aug. 24, 1999. Brig. Gen. Jack A. Davis assumed command of Marine Corps Logistics Bases at the same time.
Since September 1999, MatCom has made impressive headway. Lee said MatCom personnel are now concentrated on determining the tiers of responsibility of the MatCom organizations at SysCom, the I&L Division, MarCorLogBases and HQMC.
The idea originally was to develop a product management center which would integrate all the activities currently performed by the program managers at Systems Command up in Quantico (Va.) and our weapon systems managers here in
Albany , said Lee.
No one initially owned the process of life cycle management. It was a process that was disjointed. What the Marine Corps did was establish ownership. They determined that the commanding general of Materiel Command would own the life cycle management process.
We initially set out to determine which activities were uniquely sustainment activities, clearly under the command and control [element] here, and those activities which were life cycle management activities, Lee continued, determining the kinds of equipment we should buy, what should be our considerations for initial issue, what kinds of technical documents we would need, and how much reliability and maintainability we would need to be injected into the system.
According to Lee, when the personnel involved in the project looked at what they had to accomplish and the fact that it had never been done before, they determined the best course of action would be to phase out the existing process and gradually change to the integrated MatCom McKissock and Lee envisioned.
The problem was we could not identify how many hours someone spent doing sustainment things and how many hours were spent determining what the requirements are for new equipment and new equipment purchases, said Lee.
The integration process required many organizations across the country to work together smoothly to accomplish the successful creation of MatCom. The cooperation required by organizational personnel at MarCorSysCom and Marine Corps Logistics Bases led to an executive conference April 17-20 and the signing of a memorandum of agreement.
The MOA is designed to facilitate phasing in the integration process. The memorandum outlined which sections in the commands were responsible for various activities, and where any future questions about responsibility would be directed.
The memorandum that aided in establishment a first of its kind command, also required another first. Representatives from the MCLB Albany Maintenance Centers civilian employees labor union and the local chapter of the Federal Managers Association also attended the executive conference that led to the signing of the historic document..
This ensured a complete buy-in by all participants on how we want to structure ourselves to achieve full integration, said Lee. Weve determined what we will do and how compromises will be made if conflicts arise. Weve determined how the chain of command will work, ultimately pyramiding to me, the ultimate process owner for the life cycle management of the Marine Corps.
According to Lee, the determination of where responsibilities lie and what sort of informa
tion the various sections willcommunicate to each other was a giant step. That was a quantum leap, said Lee. We are well on the road toward full integration. How long that will take is unknown, but I would say about another 12 to 18 months. We need at least that much time to determine the organizational requirements we are going to need.
Better Business Practices also went into high gear at the same time as the Materiel Command was standing up. The Marine Corps is approaching its operating expenses and other expenditures with greater analysis of where money can be saved for quite some time.
The changes in the command structure, along with new projects such as the Amphibious Armored Vehicle rebuild, allowed closer analysis, not only of how much money is being spent, but where the money is being spent at each level. Processes were also examined to determine if another method
could accomplish the same job with less funding.
According to Lee, it is hard to determine the exact dollar
amount the Marine Corps has
saved by establishing MatCom
and BBP, because the savings
come from avoiding spending money. We havent exceeded our budget in a time when budgets are getting tighter and the requirements for money are growing, said Lee. That suggests that we are doing things more efficiently and effectively. We are avoiding decisions that would cost us money in the long run. Over the life-cycle of the equipment, we will realize significant savings.
Lee said that better materials are being delivered faster and better now than in the past, and indications of these improvements are evident in the new High Mobility Multiwheeled Vehicle, better known as Humvees, and five-ton trucks.
That is the feedback we are getting from the fleet, said Lee. They [vehicles] are all performing well. That shows that we
are making the right business decisions. Thats what MatCom
is all about. Production schedules, deliveries and customer satisfaction are way up.
Were producing faster and moving things through our depot much better than we have in the past.
To highlight the improvements in productions Lee said he recently received a message from Marine Base Twenty-nine Palms, Calif., where, for the first time ever, Marines went through a complete training cycle with a vehicle type that remained at 100 percent readiness. The AAV emerged from the training cycle without a single breakdown.
According to Lee, the performance of the vehicles is greater testament to the improvements being made than anything else.
Lee said the establishment of MatCom is a unique challenge and a turning point in logistical history which he is glad to be a part of, and that he looks forward to the further establishment of MatCom over the next year.
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