Marines assigned to Landing Support Platoon, Combat Logistics Battalion 26, 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, attach a generator to an MH-60S Seahawk helicopter on Nov. 6 at LaGuardia Airport, N.Y., as part of Hurricane Sandy relief efforts. A new logistics system will help Marines keep track of equipment and gear. (CPL. CHRISTOPHER STONE / MARINE CORPS)
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Buying spare parts, finding replacements, managing supplies and tracking maintenance are getting easier for units under a new logistics system that will be fully operational across the Marine Corps next year.
By spring, Marine units will have transitioned to the Global Combat Support System-Marine Corps, an integrated management system through which Marines can requisition parts, take maintenance actions on a vehicle or track its maintenance history. Essentially, it's one-stop shopping designed to make life easier for logisticians, and save time and money.
More than 35,000 Marines will use GCSS-MC, which incorporates three older systems:
Supported Activities Supply System.
Asset Tracking, Logistics and Supply System.
Marine Corps Integrated Maintenance Management System.
"We've been using the legacy systems SASSY, ATLASS and MIMMS for the last 40 years," said Lt. Col. Kevin Stewart, head of the Installations and Logistics Department's logistics, plans and visions branch in Arlington, Va. The transition "is like going from the horse and buggy … to a sports car."
Having one system to do multiple tasks is making the job smoother for logistics Marines. The older systems "didn't really talk to each other and didn't synchronize with each other," said Capt. Julian Tsukano, a supply officer with the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit at Camp Pendleton, Calif. The MEU is in the midst of transitioning to GCSS-MC and next year will gear up for its predeployment training. Tsukano expects there will be shorter waits for parts and less time wasted.
GCSS-MC uses an off-the-shelf software suite. Centralized inventories allow a unit, battalion or squadron to have better visibility of its own supplies and equipment, as well as those of other units.
So, for example, if a Humvee belonging to the 11th MEU has a cracked axle and no spare parts to fix it, Marines could scan the 13th MEU's inventory and, in theory, get their hands on them quickly. Similarly, deployed units can find items closer to their locations, be it the Persian Gulf region or the Western Pacific.
"We'll be able to see what our sister units have," Tsukano said. "We'll be able to save quite a bit of money by looking into other units' warehouses" and avoiding unnecessary duplication or purchases.
Such visibility means better materiel readiness, as units can get faulty parts replaced sooner and maintenance actions ordered more quickly, Stewart said.
So far, he said, "we are seeing some of the improved benefits, in terms of requisition and repair time. That's gone down from 40 days to approximately 25 days."