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News | Aug. 11, 2017

DLA hones support to Marines on forward stock, transparent armor, disposal of excess, leaders report at Marine Corps/DLA Day

By John Bell

Logistics leaders from the Marine Corps and the Defense Logistics Agency discussed how both organizations can refine their support to deployed Marines at the Marine Corps/DLA day Aug. 10.

Key topics at the Fort Belvoir, Virginia, event included support to the greater numbers of Marines in the Pacific, improving readiness of tanks and other combat vehicles and refined data sharing between the Marine Corps and DLA.

Leading the Marine delegation was Lt. Gen. Michael Dana, deputy commandant for installations and logistics. He first met privately with DLA Director Army Lt. Gen. Darrell Williams, to discuss big-picture developments and how DLA will continue to be “always faithful” in supporting Marines serving on the front lines, as well as the personnel and systems they rely on.

At the group discussion, Dana introduced the session by recognizing DLA’s work with the Marine Corps. 

“Thank you for the support; we appreciate it every day,” Dana said.

He singled out the joint team’s ongoing work on the top 25 ground weapons systems identified by the commandant of the Marine Corps as having the greatest hindrance on readiness for the Marine Corps.

Dana also encouraged his Marine Corps team to think about a larger question with relevance to every supply chain: “How can we be a better customer?”

Williams praised the joint Marine Corps team members in the room and participating remotely. 

“Your team has done a phenomenal job,” Williams said. “They really have been laser-focused on all your Marine Corps equities.” 

He likewise urged the DLA team to be candid about its own areas for potential improvement.

Marine Corps Col. Mark Walter, the agency’s Marine Corps national account manager, gave an update on tasks that resulted from the 2016 meeting. He reported the Marine Corps/DLA team is nearly complete in resolving discrepancies in the Weapons System Support Program.

In particular, Walter praised the work of the
Clothing and Textiles supply chain from DLA Troop Support. Because of their work, the Marine Corps is “very comfortable with where we are” with its Clothing and Textile readiness, Walter said.

In addition, the agency met the goal of better sharing information on the agency’s demand planning, developing depot-level metrics. DLA and the Corps also agreed to the USMC branch in charge of logistics strategy, Walter said.

From Headquarters Marine Corps Installations & Logistics, Marine Col. Seth Ocloo joined Army Col. Dale Farrand of
DLA Land and Maritime to discuss what the two organizations are doing to reduce back orders for certain weapons systems the Marines rely on. For example, Land and Maritime is improving demand forecasting by collaborating with the Marines on 11,000 more repair parts.

To follow Dana’s admonition to “be a better customer,” Ocloo said, Marines should take a more global view of the stocks available to them across the United States as they meet demand requirements.

And that demand is growing. The last few decades have seen a vast increase in the number of ground equipment items, such as tanks and amphibious assault vehicles, Dana pointed out.

“When I was in a four-company [infantry] battalion in 1991, in Desert Storm, we had 3,205 principal end items,” Dana recalled. “Today that battalion has 8,400 [principal end items]. So we look a lot like the Army.”

He noted the commandant of the Marine Corps is very focused on reducing ground-equipment inventory, given that parts sustainment poses such a demand on the force.

To maintain the readiness of those ground weapons systems, DLA since this time last year has helped increase the fully-mission-capable percentage of repair parts supporting three of the Marine Corps’ most critical weapon systems, the amphibious assault vehicle, the light armored vehicle and the M1A1 battle tank, Ocloo and Farrand explained.

Bill Shaffer, an operations resource analyst in
DLA Logistics Operations, briefed the group on the latest from the U.S. Marine Corps Performance Based Agreement, which aims to reduce back orders for items DLA supplies the Corps. For the last 12 months, availability was improved in most classes of supply, including construction equipment, medical supplies and radar units, as well as several types of vehicles and artillery.

Vance Avera, DLA Logistics Operations’ chief of strategic planning, described how DLA is providing supplies to Marines before they need them, through “forward stocking,” particularly at sites in the Pacific region. This has reduced wait time and transportation costs for the Marine Corps, Avera said.

Back in the United States, DLA is helping the Corps cut waste while boosting readiness by reducing excess inventory, Avera said. At Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California, DLA helped the Marines reduce $1 million in excess inventory.

And at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, the agency is training Marines in using the Distribution Standard System, the standardized global network DLA and the other military services use to track inventory, order and issue supplies and request disposition, Avera said.

DLA Distribution also met high-priority requirements of the Marines, said Dan Strait, a supply management specialist for the activity. In Iwakuni, Japan, DLA established a distribution site to support the relocation of various Marine Corps aircraft and to provide quicker support than was possible from Yokosuka or Sasebo.

Transparent armor — a type of blast-resistant glass — is a technology the Corps is using to protect Marines who must be exposed as they man firing positions from the roofs of tanks and other vehicles.

DLA Land and Maritime and Marine Corps Program Executive Office Land Systems briefed the assembled leaders on how PEO LS, with support from L&M, developed a way to re-laminate damaged transparent armor. L&M provided PEO LS samples to test on an expedited basis, according to Tom Stevenson, PEO LS’ assistant PEO for land systems, acquisition logistics and product support, and Kreston Harris, L&M’s branch chief for the mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicle — better known as the MRAP.  

DLA is not only fine-tuning its methods for supplying Marines; it’s also making big gains in helping the Corps get rid of excess inventory, said Mike Cannon, director of
DLA Disposition Services.

Cannon reported that his field activity recently helped the Marine Corps dispose of more than 40,000 types of repair parts, along with more than 120,000 units of small arms. Disposition Services has also surged staff to help Marines at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton cut a backlog of nearly 8,000 items.

As critical as parts, vehicles and weapons are to Marines, it’s the DLA cyber network that enables the agency to support them all. And on this front,
DLA Information Operations is working closely with the Corps to boost what it calls “cyber resilience,” said Linus Baker, DLA’s director of cybersecurity.

In particular, DLA is working to better understand how DLA’s contracted technology companies rely on the information technology infrastructure DLA provides and has set various goals for collaboration, mission assurance, and other areas of IT support.

The DLA director summarized the overall collaboration between the Marine Corps and DLA with an observation:

“Support is so much better when you have great relationships” Williams said. “I’ve known Mike Dana for a very long time; there is no finer Marine or officer in our military. Knowing that he’s in charge of the Marine Corps sustainment effort gives us great confidence.”