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Readiness Enabler for Operational Forces  •
Deployment preparations, Marines learn necessary skills

By Marti Gatlin | | April 19, 2012

To prepare for a Middle East deployment, a group of Marines from around the Marine Corps learned how to be able to track Marine Corps combat equipment being sent from Afghanistan back to the U.S. for repairs or refurbishing and then to whatever unit needs it.

Marines with military occupational specialties such as landing support, transportation management office, embarkation, distribution, motor transport, mechanics and operators, from all three Marine Expeditionary Units - I MEF, Camp Pendleton, Calif.; II MEF, Camp Lejeune, N.C.; and III MEF, Okinawa, Japan; trained at the Distribution Management Center, April 1-9.

The Marines’ officer-in-charge, Maj. Mauro Morales, distribution officer, Distribution Management Center, Marine Corps Logistics Command, will oversee the employment of them in Kuwait as well as the equipment coming home.

“I will place (the Marines) in specific nodes of where the Marine Corps equipment is flowing through to assist on receiving the equipment to the airfield and accounting for the equipment coming back to MCLC,” he said.

Morales emphasized the importance of bringing the different occupations together to complete the Middle East mission.

“The combination of distribution Marines with embarkation Marines, mechanics and motor vehicle operators, is what you need to provide the essentials for movement of any piece of equipment,” he said. “(We’re) enhancing their skill sets by providing the technology that will make it easier to track all of the equipment. (There) is a lot of equipment that we are going to bring out of Afghanistan and the technology will make it a lot easier.”

His sixth deployment, Morales noted that 70 percent of his group would be deploying for the first time. Since MCLC doesn’t have the resources, the augmented Marines are from the Marine Corps’ global sourcing, he said.

Among the Marines’ training was learning to set up and use portable deployment kits as well as address shipping labels properly so the equipment gets from point A to point B safely and doesn’t get lost.

Chief Warrant Officer 2 Brice McMinn, mobility officer, DMC, MCLC, described the PDK the Marines were learning how to use as a tool that allows them to track equipment in a field environment like they would in an office. All the PDK requires is a power source such as from a Humvee to operate it.

McMinn explained that the PDK works like for example if someone orders a book and the book has a tracking number so the company shipping it knows when it will arrive to that person.

“There are a lot of forward actions going on before (the piece of equipment) ever moves,” he said. “MCLC has identified exactly where it is going to go and what location it is going, whether the condition of that equipment is worthy to go directly to a MEF or whether the condition of that equipment requires it (to have) depot-level maintenance, which would require it to come back here or to (Production Plant) Barstow, California.” McMinn helped instruct the Marines during their training.

“This is the first time some of the Marines are doing this,” he said, noting he was trying to give them an understanding of how the Marine Corps moves large amounts of equipment via commercial shipping and aircraft. “They have a good baseline of what’s going to be expected of them, what they are going to be doing and the tools they are going to use to do those jobs. We’re trying to reconstitute the Marine Corps to get it back to its prior Afghanistan/Iraq state, getting all the equipment back to where it needs to go.”

He said he also explained to them what MCLC does here and what MCLC (Forward) does in Afghanistan, how the whole equipment reset process works and what the purpose of it is. Staff Sgt. Demarcus Moore, operating system distribution management specialist, Combat Logistics Battalion 11, Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif., will keep the Marines focused on the upcoming mission.

From Mobile, Ala., the 30-year-old will assist Morales during the deployment and keep track of all the equipment that will be moving out of Afghanistan as well as supervise the Marines.

“If we take care of the mission and do everything the way we are supposed to do it, everything else will fall into place,” he said. “My philosophy is work first, play later, but we have to make sure the Marines are safe on the job and when they have down time. We will be setting up for other Marines to come after us. If they rotate us out, other Marines can come and pick up where we left off.”

TMO specialist, 22-year-old Durham, N.C., native Cpl. Sean Spicer, 2nd Supply Battalion, Camp Lejeune, was eager to go on his first deployment.

“Everything we are going to do forward-deployed is nothing I haven’t done,” Spicer said. “We are still using the same systems, the same principles. The experience I have from my job will help me when I go forward.

“There is more than one way to do things so the different systems we are learning here will be especially helpful out there, plus when you combine them with the systems you already know, I think I will be able to help out a lot,” he added.

It was also Lance Cpl. Jennifer Bonilla’s first deployment. As a landing support specialist, Combat Logistics Regiment 27, Camp Lejeune, N.C., she helps get personnel, vehicles and cargo from place to place by the aid of airplanes, helicopters and ships and keeps track of them.

Bonilla learned about her team’s different MOSs during the training.

“We learned the general basics about the different MOSs so when we are out there we know what to do, at least the basics,” the 19-year-old from Washington, D.C., said. “We can get the job done no matter who it is on a working party or on a port operation.” Bonilla added that she’s learned a lot and is excited about her first deployment.

“I’m getting to learn the jobs of other people with different MOSs and I get more MOS credibility out of my own job than just being at Camp Lejeune,” she said. “(The Middle East) is a whole different culture. I think we have a good group of Marines going out.”