CAMP CASABLANCA, Kosovo -- One of the greatest features of a forward deployed unit is its self-reliance. During Operation Dynamic Response 2002, the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) has proven it possesses this quality through the effectiveness of its MEU Service Support Group.
Throughout the mission in Kosovo, MSSG-24 has been the glue of the operation, supporting each element of the MEU with supplies, logistics, maintenance, and repairs. The MSSG credits this success, in large part, to the Asset Tracking and Logistics Supply System or ATLASS II+.
The ATLASS II+ serves as a supply and maintenance tracking system for the Marine Corps. Its first function is accountability. Every piece of gear is recorded in the ATLASS database by its serial number. This way, their status is continually monitored and accountability is verified.
The second function is maintenance. Once a piece of gear is broken, ALTASS users can open a Work Order Number or WON, and initiate the repair process by identifying what is wrong and what is needed to fix it. As soon as the item is in the maintenance cycle, users can track its status and continue to practice sound accountability.
The ATLASS has been used in predeployment exercises and been deployed on five previous MEUs, but never taken off the ship. The 24th MEU (SOC) is the first to bring the ATLASS off the ship for a real world operation and experience success with it.
"In two weeks ashore, we had 65 pieces of equipment break down and then fixed with a Repair Cycle Time (RCT) of 1.8 days," said LtCol. Wes Weston, commanding officer, MSSG 24. "It proves we can take a deployable unit ashore and track parts worldwide."
Users no longer have to rely on radio transmissions, e-mail, or tactical phones to relay information back to the ship to be put into the ATLASS. With the ATLASS readily accessible to its users during an operation, information is put into the system much faster than if it was on the ship.
"It is right here with you," said Staff Sgt. Felix Fant, maintenance chief, MSSG-24, from Detroit, Mich., "The turnaround is almost instantaneous."
"The system is working great," said Lance Cpl. James Deer, maintenance manager, MSSG-24, from Daphnes, Ala. "It eliminates a lot of paperwork. This is much faster and more accurate."
Another reason for the success of the ATLASS is its system administrator, Rich Torres. As a former Marine, Torres knows the nuts and bolts of the supply and maintenance side of operations, but also keeps the system up and running. His overall knowledge has proved invaluable to ATLASS users.
"Rich's main job is maintaining the system, but he does a lot more for us," said Staff Sgt. Toshia Moore, maintenance management officer, MSSG-24, from Spokane, Wash. "He spends a lot of time educating the Marines about the system."
Torres also provides the needed insight to keep the progress of the ATLASS moving in the right direction.
"The fact that the ATLASS is out here with them, gives them a proper way of recording the work done," said Torres. "With true data in there, it will show them how long the tracking, delivery, and repairs took and show them tendencies during operations. It gives them a true picture of what happened."
"Ultimately, the ATLASS will build a history for future MEUs to consult," added Torres. "The next step is to complete the process by getting it back on ship and running again."