A Record-Setting Beginning, in Kuwait

12 Feb 2003 | Master Sgt. Bob Beyer

Marines are still doing what Marines have always done: the impossible.  While Marines are ready to follow whatever is required to support "Operation Enduring Freedom," the history books already have a new chapter completed; with the words "Bigger," "Faster," and "Amazing."

BIGGER: "This is the biggest MPS offload in Marine Corps history," said General Michael W. Hagee, Commandant of the Marine Corps.  The Marine Corps' senior leader from Fredericksburg, Texas, realized that while visiting the Marines who made it happen. 
Simply to state the general size of the offloading of the maritime pre-positioning ships (MPS) would not do justice to what just transpired in the deserts of Kuwait. 
The ships arrived to support the Marines, if they are called upon for action.  This is similar to what supported Operation Desert Storm. But this time, there are more ships and these were packed even tighter then normal; with thousands and thousands of warfighting equipment. 

FASTER: "How fast can we get it there," is the foundation of the MPS program.  When it was designed, the amount of manpower and man-hours were factored in.  Now, those numbers are shattered, not by hours...by days.  America's warriors offloaded and staged containers, wheeled and tactical vehicles, logistical and engineering equipment, and aviation components.  Starting in early January, it should have taken 504 hours, at top efficiency, to finish an offload of the Maritime Prepositioned Ships that were packed with equipment as tightly as these were.  But, working 24 hours around the clock, 7 days a week, it took only 432 hours.  That's three days ahead of schedule. 

AMAZING: That's what they called the TV character MacGyver whenever he made an explosive bomb out of some hair, 5-day-old beer, and a Nerf ball.  The question is always, "How does he do it?" 
That's the same question they're asking about this MPS offload.  It would be easy to do the largest ever in the faster than scheduled with a trained, experienced, well-oiled Marine machine.  That didn't happen. 

Imagine being in charge of this operation and finding out you'll be doing this with Marines from 2 different MEFS.  These are Marines who normally work independently of each other, approximately 3,000 miles apart.  Now, you have to get them to work together despite different procedures and unfamiliarity.  You'll get numerous Lance Corporals and Corporals with no Maritime Prepositioning Force Experience.

Despite that, highly skilled Marine Corps leaders merged the skills and tenacity of Marines from 2nd Force Service Support Group, 1st Marine Division, 1st Force Service Support Group, 3rd Marine Air Wing, the I MEF Headquarters Group, and other I MEF units.  The 2nd Military Police Bn, 2nd FSSG even served as Convoy Security Escorts. On every level, leadership and camaraderie enable an "unheard of" mission to be accomplished in blistering time.

One of the mission leaders, 1stLt. Morina Ivey, from Chicago, Illinois, was the Port Operations Group Officer in Charge.  She is one of many examples of leaders whose style was part of the mission's success.

"She is a dynamic and personable leader," said Colonel Steve Otto, the Landing Force Support Party Commanding Officer.  "A prior Staff Sergeant and drill instructor, she used all the skills she's acquired over 16 years to build the trust of the Marines out there.  They would do anything for her."

From the Movement Control Officer, Captain Jim Grooms of Florence, S.C. to Major Bob Hagan, the 2nd FSSG Transport Support Battalion Detachment Commander from Memphis Tennessee, Marine Corps leaders from different commands guided a meshed Marine force that worked 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  Eighteen days later, the smoke cleared and they were done.

How important is supply to a battle?  Consider the words of patriotic statesman, Benjamin Franklin:

For want of a nail a shoe was lost,
for want of a shoe a horse was lost,
for want of a horse a rider was lost,
for want of a rider an army was lost,
for want of an army a battle was lost,
for want of a battle the war was lost
for want of the war the kingdom was lost,
and all for the want of a little horseshoe nail.

With the historical offloading, just seen in the sands of the Middle East, the die is cast for success by a battle-ready Marine Corps, no matter the call.  But it took the Marines who once again, did so much, with so little, and in a way no one else could have.