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Information Technology for
Marine Corps Ammunition

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.

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
ground ammunition—

• Small arms.
• Medium caliber.
• Mortar.
• Artillery.
• Tank.
• Grenade and pyrotechnics.
• Demolition.
• 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
ammunition-related subjects—

• 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.


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 spring.

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 Vehicle).

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 to produce 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.