FORT PICKETT, Va. -- Tanks, aircraft, rifles, machine guns and humvees are some of the tools the Marine Corps uses to carry out the missions mandated by the president of the United States of America.
But those tools are useless without the supplies required to make them work. The proverbial beans, bullets, and bandages are what allow armies to move and fight, just as they have for millennia.
While today's armies have replaced the horses, swords and carriages of yesteryear with their modern equivalents, the logistical side of the military has changed little in its mission of supplying the troops with everything they need to press the fight to the enemy..
For the 26th Marine Expeditionary Force, mobility and quickness are essential to carry out the expeditionary missions, which are its mainstay.
But the logistical infrastructure that allows those units to receive what they need when they need it can be cumbersome and slow-moving at times.
The Marine Corps currently has over 247 systems in use to order, track and deliver equipment and goods to locations all over the world, said Master Gunnery Sgt. Terry M. Britt, a logistics analyst from the Technology Team at the Logistics Modernization Team-East.
Further complicating matters is, "Everyone is using different systems; some systems talk to each other, some don't," he said.
For the 26th MEU that will be a problem of the past.
Britt and his team are working alongside the logistics Marines from the 26th MEU to reduce the number of systems the MEU needs to quickly and efficiently supply its Marines and Sailors with what they need.
To do that, they are coordinating to implement a series of "logistics bridge systems" that will replace or streamline some of the systems currently in use.
The MEU is integrating the systems on an operational basis during the Marine Expeditionary Unit Exercise (MEUEX) and the Training in an Urban Environment Exercise (TRUEX) which are occurring concurrently at Fort Pickett, Va. from Sep. 28 to Oct. 5.
The Technology Team is implementing and validating the system, said Britt, adding, "We are seeing how much they are using it and what for."
The MEU is not the only unit receiving the new systems, eventually the whole Marine Corps will be connected, said Gunnery Sergeant Christopher S. Nelson, Logistics Chief for the 26th MEU.
"Marine Corps-wide we are trying to take all these different systems and consolidate them into a kind of a one-stop shop where they are all integrated," said Nelson.
Nelson gets to see the benefits of the new Common Logistics Command and Control System (CLC2S) firsthand everyday.
The new system allows anyone who is connected, and who has privileges, to see and track their logistical request's progress, and also track personnel, equipment, and supplies, he said.
Britt concurred with Nelson. "CLC2S provides real-time submission and tracking of rapid-requests and also provides asset visibility and capability," he said
It is important because it allows the requestor to actually see the action that's being taken on the request instead of having to call repeatedly to check on its progress, increasing the efficiency of the system, Nelson said.
Another system the MEU is integrating is called the Battle Command Sustainment Support System (BCS3).
"The BCS3 system's major contribution is asset visibility," Britt said.
The system will allow the MEU to track the movements of assets in real-time, using satellite tracking systems, said Nelson.
Britt explained the system could show that a convoy was stopped or headed the wrong way, and could even allow those watching its progress to dispatch help or reinforcements if needed.
Overall, the systems will enhance the logistical system of the 26th MEU, Britt said.
"This is going to increase the MEU's capability to conduct logistics command and control," he said, adding, "It's going to increase the efficiency of the logistics process and cut down the questions about how it operates."
Nelson agreed with Britt's appraisal.
"It's long overdue to have a more efficient system. These systems will increase our ability to support the MEU," Nelson said.
The 26th MEU is roughly two-thirds through its six-month predeployment training cycle designed to meld the disparate elements into a cohesive, rapid-reaction force. The unit will continue to train for its scheduled deployment in early 2007 in support of the Global War on Terror.
For more information on the 26th MEU, visit www.usmc.mil/26thmeu