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Marine Corps Joint Training at the Sustainment Center of Excellence

The Marine Corp Detachment (MCD) Fort Lee, Virginia, was established in 1983. Its mission is
to mentor and train assigned and attached Marines to standard in order to develop “whole Marines” capable of meeting Marine Corps wartime requirements. Because of the Base Closure and Realignment Commission (BRAC) decision in 2005, MCD Aberdeen Proving Ground (APG), Maryland, and MCD Redstone Arsenal (RSA), Alabama, will relocate to Fort Lee during fiscal years 2009 to 2011 and become part of MCD Fort Lee. The Marine Corps schools that are part of MCD APG and MCD RSA are affiliated with the Army Ordnance Center and Schools, which are also moving to Fort Lee as a part of BRAC.

The U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) Training and Education Command has operational and tactical control over MCD Fort Lee. However, the detachment is attached to the 23d Quartermaster Brigade, Army Quartermaster Center and School, at Fort Lee for day-to-day operations. The MCD Fort Lee commander is also the Marine Corps representative to the Army Combined Arms Support Command and the Quartermaster Center and School.

The Marine Corps, with congressional approval, recently increased in size to 202,000 personnel, which in turn increases the student loads at MCD Fort Lee, MCD APG, and MCD RSA.

MCD Fort Lee Mission

MCD Fort Lee trains entry-, career-, and advanced-level enlisted and officer Marines in personnel retrieval and processing (mortuary affairs), airborne and air delivery (parachute rigging), bulk fuel, and food service. Marine captains also attend the Combined Logistics Captains Career Course at the Army Logistics University.

In addition to training Marines, the Marine Corps Bulk Fuel School, Marine Corps Food Service School, Marine Corps Airborne and Air Delivery School, and Marine Personnel Retrieval and Processing School are the centers of excellence for their military occupational specialties (MOSs). As centers of excellence, they are responsible for writing and updating USMC, joint, and multiservice doctrine and providing input on MOS issues, such as organizational changes, billet assignments, and MOS roadmaps. The schools also work with the Marine Corps Systems Command on new and modified equipment. Once MCD APG and MCD RSA relocate to Fort Lee, MCD Fort Lee will also be responsible for the training of and doctrine development for the maintenance and ammunition MOSs.

Transition

The Marine Corps will use BRAC strategies to transfer personnel and equipment from APG and RSA to Fort Lee effectively and efficiently. Examples of these strategies include establishing a combined table of organization and equipment, defining new command and control relationships, constructing new facilities, and forming an integrated staff.

As MCD Fort Lee gains command and control of two additional MCDs, it will increase from 82 permanent personnel to more than 190 military and civilian personnel. The annual detachment budget will increase from $400,000 to more than $800,000. MCD Fort Lee will grow from 4 departments to 6; its programs of instruction will increase from 14 to 32; and the annual student throughput will increase from 1,200 to more than 3,500. Once BRAC actions are complete, MCD Fort Lee will become the third largest training command in the Marine Corps, following the USMC Recruit Depots and the USMC Schools of Infantry.

Quartermaster Training Responsibilities

Fort Lee will become the home of three joint training centers: consolidated transportation management, joint mortuary affairs, and joint culinary arts. MCD Fort Lee will have instructors in the joint mortuary training center and the joint culinary training center and will also provide instruction in aerial delivery and field services.

Joint mortuary affairs training. The Quartermaster Center and School is the executive agency for joint mortuary affairs. It provides continuous, sustainable, and global mortuary affairs support for the Department of Defense. All mortuary affairs training and doctrine development are conducted at the Joint Mortuary Affairs Center, which serves as a center of excellence. It also serves as the Department of Defense training and doctrine integrating center for all services and trains more than 250 military personnel annually.

Joint culinary training. The Army and Marine Corps have been training their food service students together at Fort Lee since 1999. The Navy and Air Force culinary training programs will relocate to Fort Lee by 2010. The Army Center of Excellence-Subsistence (ACES) at Fort Lee will become the Joint Culinary Center of Excellence (JCCoE). JCCoE will have two divisions: the Army Center of Excellence, Subsistence, Directorate of Operations and the Joint Culinary Training Division (JCTD). MCD Fort Lee will conduct culinary training through JTCD. JCTD will be responsible for developing, managing, and overseeing basic and advanced food service training for all branches of the Armed Forces. Although food service operations differ among the services, the core skills are the same for all food service personnel. The core skills will be covered in joint classes, and the services will cover service-specific skills individually.

Aerial delivery and field services. MCD Fort Lee assists the Quartermaster School Aerial Delivery and Field Services Department in developing airdrop-rigging and sling-load doctrine and resident and nonresident training support materials. MCD Fort Lee teaches the Multimission Parachute System course.

Ordnance Training Responsibilities

The team from MCD APG will continue to serve as the USMC Training and Education Command Ground Ordnance Maintenance Center of Excellence once it becomes a part of MCD Fort Lee. MCD Fort Lee will provide training in ground ordnance maintenance, refrigeration, and metalworking. It will coordinate all ground ordnance maintenance functions and provide technical subject-matter expertise. MCD Fort Lee will remain focused on all phases of the acquisition life-cycle management of ground ordnance maintenance and weapon systems. MCD Fort Lee also will provide ammunition training by applying the most effective and innovative maintenance and ammunition concepts and strategies available. 

MCD Fort Lee will face a number of exciting changes and challenges as it grows in size and responsibility when the detachments from APG and RSA arrive. As it increases its student load and the scope of its MOS functions, MCD Fort Lee anticipates not only increasing but improving its service to Marines and the military community at large.

Lieutenant Colonel Keith A. Beverley, USA (Ret.), is a doctrine manager for Marine Corps Detachment Fort Lee, Virginia. He holds a master’s degree in management from Troy State University and is a graduate of the Logistics Executive Development Course, the Army Force Management School, and the Army Command and General Staff College.

The author thanks Lieutenant Colonel Joseph F. Monroe, Commander, MCD Fort Lee, for his assistance in preparing this article.

 
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