Imagine working for a company with a merchandise
inventory valued at $4.2 billion and nearly 1,500 employees
working at 22 different locations around the world. Your company’s
inventory consists of some 337 different major end items weighing
a total of 210,510 tons and is stored at over 150 places worldwide,
including stocks afloat on the oceans. Your company’s
budget for the next 6 years for replacing the items your customers
are anticipated to use is $2.1 billion. Your company must train
450 new employees a year to keep up with personnel turnover,
and those employees must be trained to understand and comply
with numerous, strict safety regulations imposed by the Federal
Government. Finally, there are the customers—over 200,000
of them—whom your company supplies with items from its
inventory. They are extremely demanding and unforgiving, and
they will not tolerate late delivery or insufficient quantities
of items, or items that malfunction or do not work as intended,
or shipments that do not contain the items they ordered. Oh,
by the way, your customers’ very lives depend on the
received items working as advertised.
Welcome to the world of Marine Corps ground ammunition, referred
to in the military supply vocabulary as “class V(W).” The
management of the Corps’ ground ammunition program, headed
by the Program Manager for Ammunition (PM-Ammo) at the Marine
Corps Systems Command, is big business. However, managing the
Corps’ ground ammunition is not simply a matter of keeping
worldwide track of 337 major end items, each with its own Department
of Defense Identification Code (DODIC). Many of these items
include component items with separate national stock numbers
(NSNs). There are literally thousands of NSNs to keep track
of, not including the lot numbers assigned to batches of a
specific NSN-designated item by its manufacturer. Items with
the same lot number are assigned one of 15 condition codes
by DOD, and those condition codes can change throughout the
life cycle of those items. Items with the same lot number at
the same storage location also can have different condition
codes. For example, the portable Anti-Personnel Obstacle Breaching
System (APOBS) is one of the 337 items managed by PM-Ammo.
It incorporates components with different NSNs, including the
motor, grenade, fuze, detonation cord, and packaging, and each
of those components potentially can have different lot numbers
and condition codes.
of the customer in the field is the goal of Marine
Corps ground ammunition information technology programs.
Here, a forklift unloads a crate of ammunition from
a CH–53E Super Stallion Helicopter at Camp
Korea, Iraq. The customer being supported is the
31st Marine Expeditionary Unit.
To improve the management of ground ammunitions
and thus improve support to logisticians and operating forces
in the field, the Marine Corps is developing several information
systems that will increase the availability, timeliness, and
accuracy of ammunition information.
Managing Ground Ammunition
The mission of PM-Ammo is to conduct limited research, development,
and acquisition and execute life-cycle management support of
all conventional ground ammunition Marine Forces require to
train for, and successfully conduct, expeditionary maneuver
warfare. PM-Ammo’s corporate headquarters is located
at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia, and includes the PM,
Deputy PM, and three divisions: Inventory Management and Systems,
Ammunition Programs and Budget, and Logistics (see the chart
on page 12). PM-Ammo is also the sponsor of occupational field
23, Ammunition and Explosive Ordnance Disposal, for the Corps’ ammunition
community, both officer (restricted only) and enlisted. [“Restricted” refers
to warrant officers and limited-duty officers. “Unrestricted” refers
to the rest of the officer community. All officers in the Marine
Corps ammunition community are restricted.] PM-Ammo is responsible
for managing the following types of
• Small arms.
• Medium caliber.
• Grenade and pyrotechnics.
• Rockets and missiles.
It does not, however, manage Navy-owned aviation ordnance used by Marine Corps
aviation units; the Deputy Commandant for Aviation is responsible for those requirements.
Ammunition Knowledge Management Portal
A significant information technology (IT) enabler used to provide meaningful
and timely information in the conduct of the Corps’ ammunition business
is a comprehensive repository of ground ammunition data with its own Web site
known as the Ammunition Knowledge Management Portal (KMP). Access to the KMP
is controlled for security reasons. The KMP includes data on the following
• Class V(W) ground ammunition assets.
• Life-cycle management.
• Marine Corps stockpile by age.
• Malfunction histories.
• Notice of Ammunition Reclassification (NAR) histories.
• Engineering change proposals.
• Lot manufacture dates.
• Current NARs.
• Muzzle velocity adjustments.
• “Preferred for training lots” ammunition (a classification
of ammunition that should be used for training).
The KMP is an evolving service provided to the Marine Corps ammunition enterprise
that is updated systematically to provide “added value” to the viewer.
Resource links are regularly added to the alphabetized directory located on the
KMP home page.
Manager for Ammunition supervises three divisions:
Inventory Management and Systems, Ammunition Programs
and Budget, and Logistics.
Another IT enabler under development is the Electronic Ammunition and Explosives
Qualification and Certification Program, known as e-Qual, that will allow Marines
in the ground conventional ammunition, aviation ordnance, explosive ordnance
disposal, and other explosives-handling communities to view their qualification
and certification (Qual/Cert) training records on the KMP. Once it is fully implemented,
the e-Qual tool will be updated regularly by Marine OnLine, thereby eliminating
the current manual recordkeeping system. [“Marine OnLine” is a secure
site linked to the Headquarters Marine Corps Web site that allows marines to
log in with their name and password and then access personal records data (including
pay matters), review their personal records for accuracy, and submit a request
for corrections or updates.] Currently, e-Qual is scheduled to be delivered this
Ammunition Budget Management
The IT primer of the Corps’ ammunition enterprise is the Ammunition Budget
Management System (ABMS). ABMS is used to formulate
the Marine Corps’ ammunition budget and support and defend the expenditure
of Procurement Ammunition, Navy and Marine Corps, appropriations. It is a central
information repository with a browser-based interface that is accessible to any
authorized client through the KMP.
Ordnance Information System
As defined in paragraph 1007.1a of Marine Corps Order 4400.150E, Consumer-Level
Supply Policy Manual, ammunition is classified as a nonexpendable item. Because
of this classification and the sensitive nature of ammunition and explosives,
accountability for these commodities is critical. The Corps currently uses as
many as seven different end-user application systems to keep track of its ground
ammunition. As a result of DOD’s transformation initiatives, that multiplicity
of systems is about to change. The Corps has partnered with the Navy to adopt
a single system, called the Ordnance Information System (OIS), that will manage
all ground conventional ammunition and aviation ordnance within the Department
of the Navy.
OIS will allow authenticated users to interact with the database from their desktops
using a Web browser, Web-enabled forms, and specialized applications. It also
will be capable of interfacing with the Global Combat Support System (GCSS).
GCSS-Marine Corps (GCSS–MC) will field a collaborative logistics IT suite
that is built on a rich operational architecture, operates in a shared data environment,
serves the entire business enterprise (garrison and deployed), and is scalable,
interoperable, and joint. GCSS–MC is currently one of only two programs
to be designated as a Marine Corps Acquisition Category I program, the other
being the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle (formerly the Advanced Amphibious Assault
Common Logistics Command and Control System
The Marine Corps ground ammunition community is working on several other IT initiatives
that will give the community, combat service support (CSS) units, and the “trigger
pullers” in the operating forces (their primary customers) a better feel
for ammunition visibility and logistics situational awareness, both on the battlefield
and in garrison. One such initiative is ensuring integration of ammunition into
the Corps’ Common Logistics Command and Control System (CLC2S). CLC2S is
designed to give the CSS decisionmakers better data and asset visibility.
Supported Unit Ammunition Module
During combat, the Marine Corps component commander must
provide a daily Munitions Status Report (MUREP) to the combatant
commander. The MUREP’s influence
extends beyond the theater of operations, reaching back to the service headquarters,
the Joint Staff, and, for some types of ammunition, to the Commander in Chief
(the President). Currently, no fully accredited IT solution is in place to
provide visibility of ammunition assets once they have been
issued to the operating forces
from the retail supply points that maintain accountable records. PM-Ammo is
considering designing a tool called the Supported Unit Ammunition
Module (SUAM) to establish
and maintain ammunition awareness and standardize the collection and reporting
of relevant ammunition information. SUAM would provide supported units at all
levels with the common automated tools they need to obtain enhanced asset visibility,
improved and standardized expenditure reporting, enhanced planning capabilities,
centralized data storage and management, and improved communications. SUAM
could be built using the technologies and the lessons learned
with the Unit Level Ammunition
Status (ULAS) concept demonstration initiative. It is envisioned that SUAM
could be a capability within OIS or CLC2S.
Training Ammunition Management
A garrison-level initiative known as the Training Ammunition Management Information
System-Redesigned (TAMIS–R) is an Army-developed, Web-based application
that allows supported units to forecast their ammunition training requirements
to ammunition supply points worldwide in order to support the logistics functions
of request management, order management, and capacity management. TAMIS–R
also allows a supported unit to track its allowances and record its expenditures,
which permits near-real-time expenditure tracking and makes end-of-year expenditure
reporting less labor-intensive and more reliable.
Munitions Readiness Report
Another key IT enabler is the Munitions Readiness Report (MRR), another Army-led
initiative that is being reengineered as a result of input from a working group.
The Marine Corps’ initial effort to provide a similar capability was
known as the Ammunition Readiness System (ARS). ARS will continue to mature
a mirror-like application of the current Army MRR. Ultimately, MRR will be
a joint, common readiness application for all services and will meet the munitions-related
requirements of the Defense Readiness Reporting System.
The Marine Corps’ ground ammunition community is “leaning forward” in
many areas to improve and modernize its business enterprise practices. It is
doing so in ways that complement and support many ongoing transformation and
modernization efforts, including the U.S. Transportation Command’s Distribution
Process Owner, Naval Logistics Integration, and the Marine Corps’ Logistics
Operational Architecture initiatives. In the final analysis, it is all about
supporting customers throughout the world with the timely delivery of the right
amount, the right type, and the right condition of class V(W) products. ALOG
Steven M. Crittenden currently works for CACI, Inc., in Stafford, Virginia,
and is the Managing Editor of Ammunition Quarterly, which is the PM-Ammo’s
quarterly publication. He retired from the Marine Corps in 1991 as a lieutenant
colonel in the Infantry.