CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan --
The Supply Management Unit aboard Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan, acts as the intermediary between units across Regional Command Southwest and the sources of supply for Marine Corps organizations.
To run a forward deployed storage and distribution point, Marines with the SMU, Marine Air-Ground Task Force Support Battalion 11.2, 1st Marine Logistics Group (Forward) manage the entire supply process. They receive orders from requesting units and processing those requests to meet the demand.
The SMU supports 75 Marine Corps units in the region, and the lot contains 17 acres of supply assets. While it acts as a massive warehouse center for supply items, the SMU has played a significant role in the retrograde process as well.
Since the beginning of their deployment, Marines with the SMU have retrograded approximately 643,000 items back to the U.S.
“The SMU has contributed to the retrograde effort by cutting our inventory in half while still supporting the MAGTF with the right supplies and equipment,” said Capt. Brian Pugh, executive officer, Supply Company, SMU, MSB 11.2, 1st MLG (Fwd). “When MSB 11.2 stepped on deck in September, the inventory was over $115 million. Since then, we have cut the inventory to approximately $60 million.”
The SMU consists of multiple sections that work together to complete the efforts of both retrograde and distribution. Acting as the main supply headquarters for units in RC(SW), the SMU is responsible for accounting, shipping, receiving, and building boxes for transport. Additionally the SMU has sections that account for gear, provide customer service and maintain the storage area.
“We ensure we’re getting the right amount of gear to the units per their requests,” said Sgt. Allen Greggs Jr., noncommissioned officer-in-charge of the storage section, SMU, MSB 11.2, 1st MLG (Fwd). “We also [are responsible for] 100 percent accountability of all the gear that we store here.”
The general accounting section of the SMU routinely monitors usage levels of items. The accounting sections works off of the supply and demand system. They track regular demands to ensure they can provide prompt future supply support. For surplus items with a low demand, the section determines what can be retrograded.
“What may be inconsequential today may be a critical need tomorrow,” said Staff Sgt. David Taylor, staff noncommissioned officer-in-charge of the fiscal section, SMU, MSB 11.2, 1st MLG (Fwd). “Keeping an eye on the pulse of the total supply spectrum is what the SMU does best.”
With so many different sections working toward the same mission, effective communication is key to the success of the SMU.
“Our mantra has been information plus communication equals success,” said Taylor. “With a mission to support an entire deployed [Marine Expeditionary Force], as well as establish a retrograde capability, internally we all need to be on the same page.”
To maintain good communication, many Marines within the SMU receive training in sections outside of their primary roles.
“We make sure that every Marine knows how their specific task enables the warfighter to get the vital support needed to do their job,” said Taylor.
Marines at the SMU take pride in knowing their role plays an important part in ensuring the success of Marines and sailors outside of Leatherneck.
“Allowing the Marines to continually hear about their collective achievements has influenced a total team concept and played a vital role in our unit cohesion and morale,” said Taylor.
The ability to work in an interchangeable environment has helped build a strong bond between the Marines working in the SMU.
“I enjoy the interaction with the Marines,” said Greggs. “The best part of my job is having the opportunity to learn from them and having the ability to impact lives.”
By receiving orders, processing orders, picking, packing, storing and shipping gear, the SMU is the heartbeat of the RC(SW) mission. Their efforts ensure the logistics network remains strong enough to support counterinsurgency operations conducted by units in partnership with Afghan Security Forces.
“Being able to shrink our footprint in Helmand Province will ultimately help to give control to the [Afghans] and let them take over here,” said Greggs. “Our morale must be at a high state to effectively accomplish the Marine Corps’ mission and [our] determination has helped us succeed.”