MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. -- With constant unit rotations in Iraq and Afghanistan, equipment has been left behind to the replacing Marines and sailors over the years, which made maintaining accountability more challenging.
After a six year absence, the Marine Corps is bringing back the Field Supply and Maintenance Analysis Office, an inspections organization that enforces equipment accountability through gear inventory, inspections and classes. The FSMAO staff overlooks the entire unit's gear to ensure they have an accurate count of equipment that the unit has on its records. The office was reinstated Oct. 1 with locations at Camp Pendleton, Calif., Camp Lejeune, N.C., and Camp Butler in Okinawa, Japan.
"Gear accountability has a huge implication for unit readiness," said Chief Warrant Officer Russell J. Gamel, Team 2 officer in command, FSMAO, Installations and Logistics, Headquarters Marine Corps, 43, from Brokton, Mass. "FSMAO ensures that a commander can look at his supply records and have confidence in these numbers and combat readiness."
In an article by Marine Corps Times, Marine officials said the move was prompted in part by a 2008 Marine Corps Inspector General assessment. It determined that "inaccurate and incomplete supply and management data" harmed Marine readiness in Iraq, prompting Commandant Gen. James Conway to last year publish a white letter in which he challenged commanders to improve.
"The Marine Corps as a whole had some tremendous challenges since 2002 relevant to equipment accountability and probably more so after Operation Iraqi Freedom 1 when the current rotational basis was established for OIF," said Brig. Gen. Charles L. Hudson, commanding general, 1st Marine Logistics Group. Equipment associated with the units are passed to the replacing units once the determination was made that we were in it for the long haul, we started rotating units and the equipment just stayed, stated Hudson.
The FSMAO inspects all the gear that isn't individually issued to Marines and sailors to include vehicles, communication equipment and weapons.
"If I send a Marine or sailor off to combat and they don't have the appropriate weapon systems or vehicles to go to combat with, then there's a pretty good chance that they can't perform their mission," said Hudson, 50, from Zirconia, N.C. As I prepare to deploy forces, it's coming upon me to ensure that each and every Marine and sailor has the equipment they need, whether it's personnel equipment or collective military equipment, stated Hudson.
Representatives with FSMAO conduct an inspection that takes roughly two weeks to analyze the unit's supply situation. Right now they're working with Combat Logistics Battalion 5, 1st MLG and within 15 days after the inspection is complete, the final reports are finished and passed on to commanders of that unit, and all the way up the chain of command to the Marine Expeditionary Force's leaders and Headquarters Marine Corps to provide them with the unit's gear situation.
Hudson said that accountability has been a challenge over the years with the increasing influx of rotating of forces in Iraq. But the bottom line is the need to confirm an accurate accountability of our gear in order to continue carrying out the mission successfully.