CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan -- Whether deployed in a combat zone, stateside, or conducting training operations with partnered countries, Marines need logistical support to aid them in accomplishing their missions, and Logistics Command Forward was responsible for the supplying their needs up until June 1, 2014.
Marine Corps Logistics Command dates back to 1798 when it was established aboard Philadelphia Naval base. Over the years the unit had a variety of missions, from mending clothes back in 1804 to outfitting and equipping 36 expeditionary units serving in World War I. During World War II, the unit’s capabilities and responsibilities expanded to making uniforms, as well as lumber and metal products for tents, lockers and bunks. When Marines went to Korea, Lebanon, the Dominican Republic and Vietnam, the unit’s focus was redirected to sustain the life cycle of the Marine Corps weapons systems and equipment.
After the Marine Corps established a main supply center in Albany, Georgia, in 1952, their official title and mission continued to change over the next several years. In 1990, the Commandant of the Marine Corps designated the commanding general of Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany, Georgia, as the commander of MCLB Barstow, California, Blount Island Command in Jacksonville, Florida, and MCLB Albany, the Corps’ three logistics bases.
The Logistics Command has continued to change and improve, providing the most effective material lifecycle management of ground weapons systems for the Marine Corps. Now LOGCOM executes its worldwide task to ensure Marines have every logistical means to accomplish their mission.
Fighting in every clime and place requires logistical support and the means to get it there. As in the past, LOGCOM has recognized and adapted to these changes. As forces entered Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom and Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom, LOGCOM once again faced environmental challenges, yet was always there to keep Marines safe and in the fight.
“Our general, years ago, identified that operating in the desert is a big logistical challenge,” said Lt. Col. Jack Sharkey, commanding officer, LOGCOM Forward. “Doing tactical logistics is what we have the Combat Logistics Battalions for, and they are really good at doing their job. But when you need to start replacing a section of tanks or Light Armored Vehicles, or conduct depot-level maintenance, which means pulling engines completely out to repair or rebuild, that level of support isn’t available at the tactical level. It is an operational requirement, and it is what LOGCOM does for the Marine Corps. There wasn’t a unit in Iraq or Afghanistan that did that, so LOGCOM created the Forward to do that.”
LOGCOM Forward was established during January 2007 to provide command and control over all MCLC programs, resources and personnel in the U.S. Central Command area of operations to deliver effective and economical operational-level logistics support. This unique implementation of the Forward unit allowed for the command to easily expand and contract meeting the requirements of the operational commander with minimal resources being drawn from the operating forces.
The command was comprised of senior military leadership from all three Marine Expeditionary Forces and a mix of government civilians and contracted personnel. These civilians and contractors have held an important role with the Marine Corps and throughout MCLC’s history, supporting as subject matter experts on maintaining and sustaining the Corps’ vital equipment and gear.
Together they worked to develop a comprehensive operational logistics program to alleviate units of sustainment responsibilities, freeing Marines to fight on the battlefield during OIF and OEF.
“In logistics, everyone has their specialty,” said Sharkey. “I call that the union card, and when you come to LOGCOM Forward or (Redeployment and Retrograde in Support of Reset and Reconstitution), your union card is important – that is your duty expertise – but you have to understand the whole picture and where you fit in. As a supervisor of the contracts, you have to understand the transportation aspects, the requirement of the communicators, requirements of the command, and how it all fits together within the unit and what the unit’s job is in the overall scheme for the Marine Corps.”
To better assist units during OIF and OEF, LOGCOM Forward supported by providing platforms called the Overflow Maintenance Support, Forward in Stores and the (Marine Expeditionary Units) Augmentation Program.
The Overflow Maintenance Support platform was designed to aid the Marine Air-Ground Task Force by conducting all maintenance capacity and capability above the tactical level. This includes installing armor on vehicles, rebuilding engines and electrical systems, and repairing generators, heavy equipment and motor transportation assets.
“Forward in Stores consisted of 189 battle-ready assets ranging from small arms and optics to M1A1 Abrams battle tanks that were available for issue in response to operational or strategic changes in mission requirements, or serve as replacements for battle damaged and combat equipment loss,” said Sharkey. “FIS is like a Walmart for the Marines. ‘Hey you need tanks, go down aisle six, we have this many tanks for you. Oh, you need to repair this? Bring it in and we will do the repair.’ We can turn trucks that have 100,000 miles on them down to 10 miles, that kind of work.”
Both the Overflow Maintenance Support platform and FIS were set up on Marine Corps bases throughout Iraq and Afghanistan.
The MEU Augmentation Program was established at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, to serve as the warehouse for theater-specific equipment the MEU could draw from if and when it deployed. The implementation of this program allowed a MEU to respond to low-intensity conflicts and engage in counter-insurgency operations throughout the USCENTCOM area of operations.
Since 2010, the FIS has issued more than 1,535 Principle End Items and provided care of supplies in stores to more than 1,339 PEIs. These PEIs consist of equipment such as tactical vehicles, weapons and communication gear. Since 2011, the MAP has sent more than 2,387 assets to directly support OEF and 156 assets to support MEU operations during OEF.
The unit has received several awards to include the Meritorious Unit Commendation Streamer with 2 bronze stars, the Iraqi Campaign Streamer with 1 bronze star, and the Afghanistan Campaign Streamer with 1 bronze star.
A flag-folding ceremony was held June 1, 2014, aboard Camp Leatherneck, Helmand province, Afghanistan, where LOGCOM Forward was deactivated and their responsibilities were absorbed into the R4OG mission.
Now R4OG is the forward-deployed unit in control of taking all vehicles and equipment to clean, certify and redeploy back to the states. Once stateside, the gear is reset, or rebuilt like new, and reconstituted, or reissued to units.
“The Marine Corps doesn’t have the money to go out and buy new equipment, so we have to do what we can with the old,” said Master Sgt. Darrell L. Rogers, supply chief, LOGCOM Forward. “Fortunately, LOGCOM has the facilities and personnel to take the vehicles and equipment and repair them to where it is like brand new again, and then reissue to the units. Everything that is supplied by the Marine Corps comes from LOGCOM. We are like the Walmart of the Marine Corps. We are a large supply center that supports every aspect of the Marine Corps.”