Marines Save Money Through Gear Repairs


CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan -- Not a lot of deployed Marines can say they helped the Marine Corps save more than $100,000 in just a few months, but one group working here since January can.

Marines with the communication electronics maintenance section, General Support Combat Logistics Company, Combat Logistics Regiment 2, have repaired 33 Driver’s Vision Enhancers, surveillance systems used in most tactical vehicles being operated throughout Afghanistan.

The DVE, valued between $3,500 and $4,500 each, uses infrared sensors to give drivers better visibility during harsh weather and darkness.

Staff Sgt. Diana L. Litton, staff noncommissioned officer in charge of the CEM section, said the DVEs were purchased under an urgent universal needs statement, a request for an additional war-fighting capability needed by units conducting combat or contingency operations. However, because there is no post-UUNS sustainment plan created or paid for, a unit’s supply section cannot provide repair parts.

“Basically, if a broken [DVE] came in, it would get replaced with a new one and the broken one would be destroyed,” said Litton, a native of Slidell, La. “These items are [expensive] so it became a concern that these pieces of gear weren’t being repaired.”

Instead of throwing them away, Marines with GS CLC salvage parts from broken DVEs to repair others.

“The Marines take two bad ones, cannibalize them for parts, and out of two bad ones we make one good (DVE),” said Litton.

When a broken DVE arrives to the section, Cpl. Jason Cooper, the data and circuit card repair chief, tests it for power board problems or screen damages. When both are broken, he must dig deeper into the system to figure out what is going on.

Cooper, a native of Bluffton, S.C., has a secondary military occupational specialty in micro-miniature repair and is able to make repairs on circuit cards.

While some repairs are easier than others, Cooper gets down to the circuit components and is able to swap out parts from different circuit cards.

“As I go along, I’m still finding different ways to fix more,” Cooper said.

The Marines log each broken part to help identify trends and keep track of different malfunctions, which they said helps them diagnose problems.

To date, CEM has repaired 23 General Dynamics and DRS model DVEs, and 10 BAE Systems models. In all they have saved $106,354.

“From what [the section] can do with parts availability, the assets and the testing equipment they have on hand to make repairs they are 100 percent effective,” said Gunnery Sgt. Jeff Miller, the unit’s special equipment items staff noncommissioned officer-in-charge.

Miller, from Kansas City, Kan., recently started the process to add DVEs to the sustainable equipment list, a tedious process which requires training, budgeting and feasibility considerations as well as coordination between Marine Corps Systems Command and the companies that produce the systems.

“This is us in the ninth inning coming back and saying, ‘If we are going to make [DVEs] an enduring requirement, then this is something we need to consider’,” said Miller.

Litton said the goal is to change the way DVE systems are processed and maintained.

“Ultimately, we want to be good stewards of the government’s money,” said Litton.

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