CAMP CASABLANCA, Kosovo -- When the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) set out on its current deployment, it brought with it a few new assets like the Medium Tactical Vehicle Replacement truck, The MEU Personal Administration Center and the New MEU Service Support Group (MSSG). That's right, the new MSSG!
Some will say the MSSG is not new, that they have always been deployed with MEUs. Part of the statement is true, they have always been deployed with MEUs, but never before has it been done the way MSSG-24 is doing it now.
For starters, this is the one of the first times an MSSG has been completely formed from scratch.
"In the past, Marines stayed with the MSSG for two deployments, this allowed for an even handoff between the MSSGs," said Lt. Col. Wes S. Weston, MSSG-24 Commanding Officer. "But due to personnel tempo they decided to start standing up MSSGs completely from scratch."
As a way to offer the unit cohesion, the command participated in Combined Arms Exercise (CAX) 9-10 in Twentynine Palms, Calif. "CAX was our forming time as a unit," said Weston. This was the time to train the Marines how to perform first as a Combat Service Support Detachment (CSSD) then later as an MSSG."
A highlight of CAX was when the newly formed MSSG had the opportunity to work with the MEU's Battalion Landing Team 2nd Bn., 2nd Marines and form a partnership that would last throughout the float.
In addition to being formed from scratch, this new MSSG is also using some of the Marine Corps newly improved equipment.
"This time, we happen to be floating with three brand new pieces of equipment," said Weston. "We received the Medium Tactical Vehicle Replacement (MTVR) truck, the five-ton fork lift and the 10-ton Extended Boom Fork Lift (EBFL)."
"We received the trucks back in February and have since put about 5,000 miles on each of them," added Weston. "This makes the MSSG Motor Transport drivers and mechanics the most experienced in the Marine Corps for the MTVR."
Weston also said the new Heavy Equipment is being used on a regular basis and have proven to be good pieces of equipment thus far. This month also marks 10,000 accident free miles for the unit.
The final thing that makes this MSSG different from the ones before it is the way it deploys its ATLASS II+ maintenance and supply computer system. This is the first time a MEU has actually taken the ATLASS off the ship.
The first time we deployed with the ATLASS was at CAX," said Weston. "We deployed it again to Fort A.P. Hill in Va. Now we have it ashore in Kosovo."
Because of the experience they gained at the exercises, the MSSG Marines were able to have the ATLASS up and operational within six hours of arriving ashore.
With the combination of new gear and new staff, the MSSG's maintenance and supply detachments have achieved a Repair Cycle Time (RCT) of 1.8 days.
"We've received over 60 different items in the shop and have been able to turn those things around within two days," said Weston. "I think this is a credit to the maintenance detachment and quite a tribute to the hard work of the Marines who are using the system and properly exercising the system to make the support responsive."
Weston also mentioned that working in an operational environment vice an exercise environment has been very good for the Marines.
"They are operating out in town with restrictive roads, non-existent roads and narrow-mountain passes where an element of danger exists every time they drive out of the compound here," said Weston. "The fact is that they are driving in all types of weather conditions with heavy congestion through towns and again on steep and dangerous mountain roads. It's been a good operational experience for our drivers. "I think that they have taken a lot away from that."
"I think this will benefit them through the rest of our deployment and I'm sure that if they stay around the Marine Corps that they will be able to pass that information down and use it in future operations," added Weston.
All in all, MSSG-24 is proving its reliability and effectiveness during its time overseas with the 24th MEU (SOC).
As a new "G," it is quickly blazing a trail for others to follow