MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Virginia – The Marine Corps acquisition force is closing the gap between forward-deployed Marines and the web-based logistics support they need.
With the Global Combat Support System-Marine Corps latest software release, even Marines with limited or no Internet service can fill out requests for weapons, vehicle parts and anything else they could find at a logistics depot quicker than ever before.
“We’re getting more system access, more user capability and more support for the Marines pulling the trigger and also saving them huge amounts time,” said Maj. Sean Cox, project officer for GCSS-MC. “It enables a Marine deployed anywhere in the world to have the full backing of supply and maintenance Marines.”
GCSS-MC is the primary technology provider for Marine Corps Logistics Modernization strategy using commercially available resource-planning software. Marine Corps Systems Command provides programmatic, technical and administrative support for GCSS-MC, which also falls under the Navy's Program Executive Officer for Enterprise Information Systems .
The GCSS-MC software itself is modified commercial software, used in chain stores with specific changes made to best fit the needs of the Marine Corps, Cox said.
The update, called GCSS-MC 1.1.1, ensures Marines can interact within GCSS-MC without being connected to the Internet, using three new capabilities: Mobile Field Service, Tactical Wide-Area Network and Enhanced Automated Task Organization.
“We have situations when Marines aren’t going to have Internet connections or poor connectivity,” said Dave Hansen, program manager for GCSS-MC. “For that, we have MFS.”
MFS is a store-and-forward capability that allows users to download and fill out a form in limited or zero connectivity environments, which the system saves until better connectivity becomes available.
“It’s great when Marines are aboard ships where signals can be spotty or guys work in maintenance areas with no connection,” Hansen said. “It saves them from having to write down all their transactions and re-enter them later.”
Another time-saver for Marines that helps using GCSS-MC in limited connectivity is TWAN, which acts as a data cache for GCSS-MC users.
“It learns what you’re putting into the forms,” Hansen said. “And then, over time, TWAN stores that information to help you fill in the forms faster. Overall we see about a 30 percent reduction in transaction time.”
Less time spent on each transaction means Marines can accomplish their mission faster and more time to complete other essential tasks.
An even bigger time-saver is EATO, which lets Marines do group transactions within GCSS-MC instead of individual ones.
“Take the example of establishing a Marine Expeditionary Unit from a Marine Expeditionary Force—you’re transferring a lot of gear, and each piece has to be accounted for,” Hansen said. “Before we had EATO, we had to do individual transactions numbering around 8,000, which takes about three months. With EATO, you have to fill out a few things beforehand, but what took months now takes a few hours of Marine interaction, and the system does the rest in the background.”
The result of all these improvements has been reductions in time for Marines using GCSS-MC in all conditions.
“We see Marines using GCSS-MC for shorter periods of time and still getting everything they need done,” Hansen said.
Hansen said that since the release of the GCSS-MC 1.1.1 update, Marines aboard ships using GCSS-MC with MFS and TWAN are getting things done at about the same rate they would in garrison.
It’s a step forward for GCSS-MC, but it’s just the first of many.
“We’ve enhanced GCSS-MC,” Cox said. “We’ve integrated these capabilities into GCSS-MC with the user in mind, saving that Marine time and making sure he or she can be as connected to the whole chain as much as possible. We will continue to improve GCSS-MC and increase capability.”