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Pick, Pack, Ship: Marines Support Helmand Units

A Marine catalogs items to be shipped out of Afghanistan
A Marine catalogs items to be shipped out of Afghanistan

CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan  — The Supply Management Unit aboard Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan, is home to more than 500,000 pieces of gear and supports 56 units throughout Regional Command Southwest.

Since arriving in Afghanistan last month, Marines with Storage Platoon, Supply Company,1st Maintenance Battalion (-) (Reinforced), 1st Marine Logistics Group (Forward) have helped retrograde more than 130,000 items back to the U.S.

While the SMU has played a significant role in the retrograde process, the lot is also responsible for supplying Marines throughout the area of operations.

“Our main focus is providing sustainment, and our secondary focus is the retrograde,” said Master Sgt. Cody Douglas, staff noncommissioned officer, Storage Plt., Supply Co. “Our goal is to be at 260,000 pieces for sustainment within the next six weeks.”

The unit has approximately 282,000 items of gear within the lot left to retrograde. After the goal is reached, the remaining pieces will be used for the sustainment of units operating in Helmand Province.

From uniform items to vehicle repair parts, Storage Plt. holds the gear until a unit requests a shipment. Across the lot are containers and bins holding items as small as AA batteries to larger items like engine blocks.

“My job is to pick, pack and stow,” said Lance Cpl. Moises Vasquez, a warehouse clerk with Storage Plt. “I pick the requested items from their locations, pack [them] up, and make sure shipping and receiving gets it.”

The platoon uses the Storage Retrieval Automated Tracking Integrated System (STRATIS) to determine which items need to be pulled for each run. Using National Stock Numbers, the Marines locate the items throughout the lot and send it to shipping and receiving.

The platoon is broken up into four different sections that each hold different types of gear.

“When we get the gear from the different sections we make sure [they’re] the right items and the correct amount,” said Lance Cpl. Gabriella Gutierrez, a warehouse clerk in the Shipping and Receiving section of the platoon. “We also make sure [they’re] getting sent to the correct location.”

When the Marines receive the list of items to pull, the gear is picked based on the last part of the item’s number. Out of thousands of items, however, there are times when different pieces of gear will share the number.

“I check the nomenclature of the items my Marines pull because sometimes there will be multiple items with the same last four numbers,” said Cpl. Michael Belanger, a warehouse clerk with Storage Plt. “By physically checking the items it ensures the right gear is going out.”

Whether they are filling a unit’s request, or picking surplus items to retrograde to the U.S., Marines with Storage Plt. will continue their daily efforts to help accomplish the Marine Corps’ mission.

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