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Army and Marine GS/DS Class I Storage and Distribution Center

The 24th Quartermaster Company and Marine Corps Combat Logistics Battalion I combined their operations at Al Asad, Iraq, to create a centralized class I distribution center that provided both GS and DS class I services.

On 8 October 2006, the 24th Quartermaster Company took over the general support (GS) class I (subsistence) area at Al Asad, Iraq. The company, part of the 593d Corp Support Group at Fort Lewis, Washington, was assigned to the 630th Combat Sustainment Support Brigade. At the time, we provided support to only 4 forward operating bases (FOBs) and 44,000 personnel. Al Asad also had a direct support (DS) class I area, run by the Marine Corps Combat Logistics Battalion 1, that provided support to 5 FOBs and 7,600 personnel.

Now, imagine a centralized distribution center providing class I support to all of Anbar province and its surrounding FOBs. All of the commodities would be in one location under a joint service administration. This was our challenge: to bring together the two class I areas—one Army GS and one Marine DS.

The goal was to create a joint distribution center at Al Asad, composed of a forward distribution center multiclass section, a central receiving and shipping point, a petroleum section, and a combined GS/DS class I center. To do this, we had to merge the Army and Marine Corps class I operations into a joint distribution center, which would improve customer service, reduce transportation requirements, improve asset visibility, and provide a more secure location.

The Logistics Civil Augmentation Program contractor KBR, Inc., then would take full authority and operational control of the class I yard, leaving the Army and Marine Corps personnel to supervise, evaluate, and submit requisitions.

Merging Operations

Merging the GS and DS yards with Army, Marine Corps, and KBR personnel in one location was the first step. The second step was designating and establishing the new roles of the Army and Marine personnel. With the merger, the Army provided the officer in charge and the Marine Corps provided the staff noncommissioned officer (NCO) in charge and the requisitions NCO. Their responsibilities were to provide oversight of the operation; serve as liaisons between the Army, Marine Corps, and KBR; and requisition stocks. The officer in charge was responsible for all reports, providing the evaluation of KBR to the higher headquarters, and serving as the accountable officer. The staff NCO in charge was responsible for the general oversight of the yard and reporting contract violations. The requisitions NCO was responsible for the requisition and distribution of all stocks to the FOBs and Al Asad personnel.

Since the two services have different operating procedures, the combined center had to have its own set of innovative procedures for ordering requisitions.

The Army uses Department of the Army (DA) Form 1687, Notice of Delegation of Authority-Receipt for Supplies, and DA Form 3161, Request for Issue or Turn-in. The customer provides an assumption of command order from his unit and the DA Form 1687, which enables an individual to pick up class I items on behalf of the unit. The Marines use a different system called “rapid requests,” which is a battalion screening process that authorizes customers to pick up rations on behalf of the unit. The Army provides a 24-hour turn-around, while the Marine Corps fills orders on the spot. The solution to resolving these differences was to merge the Marine Corps and Army systems by allowing units to pick up 10 items at a time once a week and by using DA Form 1687 and the assumption of command order to maintain an accurate accountability of on-hand stocks and assist in the requisition process.

Both services used the same provider, Public Works Corporation (PWC) based in Kuwait, but they did it differently. The Marine Corps class I activity coordinated directly with the provider, while the Army coordinated through a higher headquarters. To overcome this difference, the Army and Marine Corps consolidated their requisitions into one account for operational rations and coordinated directly with PWC. With this system, orders arrived prepackaged. This required the FOBs to provide their requests using the PWC order format. Each FOB had a designation code that identified its order when it arrived at Al Asad. This process reduced double-handling and improved the packaging, distribution, and staging of stock.

Transferring Operations to KBR

Once the Soldiers and the Marines came under a joint system, they initiated the KBR merger. To manage the relief in place and transfer of authority (RIP/TOA), Army and Marine Corps personnel and KBR established a phased operation to conduct the transfer. They conducted a joint inventory of stocks at both yards before the rations were combined at one location. KBR provided all materials-handling equipment and assumed control of storage. Army and Marine Corps personnel established day and night shifts and served as supervisors and liaison officers with the Army and Marine Corps higher headquarters. The KBR statement of work specified the contractor’s responsibilities and the services’ expectations to fulfill the legal service obligations. Army and Marine Corps personnel had to take the online contracting classes offered through the Defense Acquisition University to learn the contract language, roles and regulations, and legal ramifications.

The RIP/TOA included another set of challenges, including the joint technical inspection of equipment, the depletion of stocks from the GS class I yard, the movement of rations to the DS class I yard, and, finally, the 100-percent inventory of stocks and rations. Over a 1-month period, the Army and Marine activity and KBR completed the RIP/TOA by merging the stocks, preparing a RIP/TOA checklist, restructuring a new standing operating procedure, and completing the final inventory.

The Army and Marine class I storage and distribution center is a good example of what the Armed Forces will look like in the next 5 years. The armed services will secure a site, contractors will take over the logistics and combat support, and the armed services will put the logistics Soldiers back into the war. Working with a sister service was a great opportunity to understand another service’s operations and learn new mechanisms to improve our tactics, techniques, and procedures. Joint service operations definitively highlight the phrase, “One team, one fight!”

Second Lieutenant Carlos E. Comas is the executive officer of the 24th Quartermaster Company, 593d Sustainment Brigade, at Fort Lewis, Washington. He holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology and is a graduate of the Officer Candidate School and the Quartermaster Officer Basic Course.