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Deployment, Employment And Management Of Marine Corps Aviation Logistics Support
CSC 1993
SUBJECT AREA - Aviation
				EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
Title:  Deployment, Employment and Management of Marine Corps Aviation Logistics Support
Author:  Major Mark Fracassa, United States Marine Corps
                                    FORWARD
    Although some accounts have been written concerning U.S.
Marine Corps Maritime Preposition Ships (MPS) and the sorted
logistical requisites associated with that program, little
has been focused specifically on the Aviation Logistics
Support Ship (T-AVB).  Such peripheral accounting of T-AVB
employment and capability problems result from insufficient
or lack of peacetime training, when this asset should be
periodically utilized as it would be during a crisis
response.  Consequently, much of the T-AVB "problem"
information discussed herein was in necessity based upon
"lessons learned" from the 1990-1991 Gulf crisis.
    The time to "learn" is not during crisis response, when
the lives of Marines and personnel from the other Services or
friendly countries hang in the balance.  Rather, mistakes
should be made, difficulties and problem areas identified and
the "learning curve" overcome in a benign training
environment where we have ample opportunity to "work out the
kinks" with relative impunity.  Unfortunately, although such
is the norm for most Marine Corps activities and
capabilities, such has not been the case with the T-AVB.
                         Major Mark Fracassa, USMC
                         Aircraft Maintenance Officer
                            EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
Thesis:  The MALS (Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron) cannot
be expected to be properly deployed or employed in times of
war if it is not realistically managed, prepared and trained
on a recurring basis in peacetime to deal with the type of
environment and potential hostilities expected during
conflict resolution.  The only means by which to acquire such
capability and experience is for the MALS to "train like it
will fight."
Background:  Since the mid-1980's, the Navy and Marine Corps
have developed and refined the Maritime Prepositioning
Ships/Force (MPS/MPF) concept.  During Operations Desert
Shield/Desert Storm, this forward-thinking innovation proved
its worth, as Marine forces were able to both deploy to the
Gulf region and be prepared to fight almost instantly, as
their required equipment was either previously embarked
aboard MPF shipping or accompanied the forces en route.
However, there were numerous shortcomings discovered within
the Aviation Combat Element (ACE) lift ship, the T-AVB, which
are of great concern to aviation maintenance and supply
officers, and logisticians within the MALS.  The crux of most
problems discovered was a lack of knowledge and expertise
within MALS with respect to deployment, employment and
management of the Aviation Logistics Support Ship (T-AVB).
The rudimentary and underlying cause for such limitations can
be traced to lack of opportunity, funding, timing or desire
(in some cases) to aggressively seek out and obtain access to
the T-AVB for indepth MALS training.
Recommendation:  The T-AVB program should be recognized as
the necessary combination of logistics and operations for the
ACE commander in a deployed environment and sufficient
peacetime training opportunity and funding should be afforded
MALS to become both proficient and effective in its
employment.
  DEPLOYMENT, EMPLOYMENT AND MANAGEMENT OF MARINE CORPS
                          AVIATION LOGISTICS SUPPORT
                                    OUTLINE
Thesis:  The MALS (Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron) cannot
be expected to be properly deployed or employed in times of
war if it is not realistically managed, prepared and trained
on a recurring basis in peacetime to deal with the type of
environment and potential hostilities expected during
conflict resolution.  The only means by which to acquire such
capability and experience is for the MALS to "train like it
will fight."
I.	USMC Roles and Missions
	A.	Maintaining USMC Effectiveness
	B.	The Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron
		1.	Mission and Employment
		2.	Operational Procedures
II.	MPS and MAGTF Support
	A.	MAGTF Theater Employment
	B.	MPS Concept of Operation
	C.	The T-AVB
	D.	MPS/MPF Training and Operations
		1.	Gulf War Employment
		2.	Lack of MPF Knowledge and Training
III.	MALS, T-AVB and Deployment Readiness
	A.	MALS Operations During Crisis Response
	B.	MALS and T-AVB Utilization
		1.	Gulf War Problems Encountered
		2.	Lack of MALS/T-AVB Training
	C.	T-AVB Readiness Shortfalls
		1.	Delayed Activation and Arrival in Theater
		2.	Lack of Personnel T-AVB Knowledge and Training
	D.	West Coast T-AVB
		1.	Attempts to Acquire Training
		2.	Somalia T-AVB Use Request Denied
IV.	T-AVB Quandary and the "Fix"
	A.	Need Yearly T-AVB Training For MALS
	B.	Funding Required For Training
	C.	Full Scale Work-Ups
  DEPLOYMENT, EMPLOYMENT AND MANAGEMENT OF MARINE CORPS
                          AVIATION LOGISTICS SUPPORT
              by Major Mark Fracassa, United States Marine Corps
    Much has been written and discussed in reference to roles
and missions of the Marine Corps and the direction it should
take in the future.  There is great concern for ensuring
preservation of the Corps as a potent fighting force in a
time when both Congress and the President appear to be
swinging the saber of force drawdowns and reduced military
spending with almost reckless abandon.  This has forced the
Corps to carefully scrutinize the ways it conducts business
and as a result, significant effort is being expended to
determine if there are capabilities or activities which can
be consolidated without losing the Corps' effectiveness or
efficiency.
    Whatever the future holds for the Corps, Marines must
realize that its ultimate destiny will depend in large
measure on the degree of efficiency in which the Corps
operates and is managed in the eyes of Congress and the
American people.  This requires a demonstrated capacity of
bringing missions to closure as expediently as possible with
the least amount of personnel and equipment loss, and as cost
effectively as possible.  Presently, the Corps holds high
marks in the afterglow of the Gulf War in each of these
categories.  But resting on previous performance will not
provide the impetus required to ensure the Corps maintains
and improves its capabilities for the future.
    One way all Marines can assist in this effort is by
examining daily operating procedures and unit employment and
management practices to ensure that all facets of Marine
Corps life are conducted with maximum proficiency.  The
recurring issue which seems to haunt the Corps is failure to
"train like we intend to fight," and few organizations appear
innocent of violating this basic principle.  With mandated
cuts in military budgets and personnel reductions, it is a
foregone conclusion that we must conduct our business
"smarter."  Consistently training in the same manner as we
intend to fight will best serve the Corps' interests in terms
of combat readiness and force employment effectiveness to
foster continued belief in, and respect for, Marine Corps
capabilities.
THE MARINE AVIATION LOGISTICS SQUADRON
    One such organization which needs to be afforded
increased opportunity to train like it is expected to fight
is the Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron (MALS) of the
Marine Aircraft Group (MAG).  MALS is the Intermediate
Maintenance Activity (IMA) which maintains and repairs
aircraft components, and performs required manufacture,
fabrication and support of items critical to the flying
squadrons of the MAG.  Utilizing the same approach in which
the Aviation Combat Element (ACE) of the Marine Air-Ground
Task Force (MAGTF) is task-organized, MALS can be "tailored"
to support an aircraft mix relative to the mission, providing
the MAGTF Commander with desired flexibility in a functioning
MALS (or MALS detachment) in support of his ACE.
    Since MALS is the major supporting activity for the
Group's aircraft, it must achieve and maintain optimum
readiness if it will be expected to perform its mission under
the pressures of combat, especially if it will deploy in
total and be forward based.  MALS therefore cannot be
expected to be properly deployed or employed in times of war
if it is not realistically managed, prepared and trained on a
recurring basis in peacetime to deal with the type of
environment and potential hostilities expected during
conflict resolution.  The only means by which to acquire such
capability and experience is for the MALS to "train like it
will fight."
MARITIME PREPOSITIONED SHIPS AND MAGTF SUPPORT
    In order to accomplish its missions and assigned
taskings, the MAGTF must rapidly arrive in the theater of
operations, be prepared to conduct forcible entry, and
expeditiously exploit its successes.  However, the ability to
quickly move the MAGTF and project its power ashore (let
alone sustain it once in theater), was heretofore the "long
pole in the tent" and the subject of intensive study and
doctrinal overhaul; enter the Military Prepositioned Ships
(MPS) Program.
    The MPS concept links up air deployable MAGTF equipment
and personnel with prepositioned supplies and equipment
embarked aboard MPF ships that are continuously forward
deployed.  MPS Squadrons (MPSRON) each contain 30 days worth
of supplies and equipment to sustain a Marine Expeditionary
Brigade (MEB) of approximately 16,500 Marines.  When married
up with the necessary 249 C-141 sorties that round out MEB
equipment requirements, the MAGTF becomes a credible fighting
force.  The enormous lift capability of a single MPSRON can
be placed into perspective by realizing that to lift the
equipment required by a MEB by air alone would require more
than 4,500 C-141 equivalent sorties. (6:73)
    Due in part to the MPS program, the Navy-Marine Corps
team enjoyed tremendous success in the Gulf War.  (So
successful in fact, that the U.S. Army has now embarked upon
an MPS program of its own.)  The MPS system provided our
Naval forces with the ability to arrive in Southwest Asia
(SWA) in an expedient manner and "set up shop" quickly, with
all required items at hand.  The MPS success story has
written new chapters in the history of U.S. military power
and has not gone unnoticed, as evidenced by General Colin
Powell when he stated:
      "The amphibious capability of the Marines in tandem with
      the Navy gives us the capability to have a potential
      ground force presence wherever we have a Navy presence.
      And that is a great deterrent.  Lying offshore, ready to
      act, the presence of ships and Marines sometimes means
      much more than just having airpower or ship's fire, when it
      comes to deterring a crisis.  And the ships and Marines may
      not have to do anything but lie offshore.  It is hard to lie
      offshore with a C-141 or C-130 full of airborne troops." (9)
    However, as documented through "lessons learned"
submitted by Marines involved in MPS employment before,
during and after the Gulf War, there remain several key
issues which must be addressed to improve the overall
program.  Specifically, problems were noted which had the
potential of hampering required readiness of the ACE due to
inadequacies and/or difficulties experienced by aviation
support personnel embarked aboard the Aviation Logistics
Support Ships (T-AVB) of the MPSRON.
THE AVIATION LOGISTICS SUPPORT SHIP (T-AVB)
    T-AVB' s were acquired as a result of a November 1983
analysis entitled "Feasibility Study of the Aviation
Logistics Support Ship (T-AVB)."  When not employed, T-AVB's
are maintained in "RRF-5" (Ready Reserve Force) status, which
requires five days preparation to ready the ship for sail.
T-AVB's are commercial Roll On-Roll Off (RORO) container
ships that have been modified for use by Marine Corps IMA
aviation maintenance and supply organizations.  When
activated, these ships are operated by the Military Sealift
Command (MSC) by civilian personnel.
    The primary mission of the T-AVB is to provide dedicated
sealift for movement of a MALS in support of the rapid
deployment of Marine aircraft units.  In the event immediate
off-load is not possible when the ship arrives at its point
of debarkation, the ship's helicopter operating pad (capable
of accommodating the CH-53E) facilitates the flow of aviation
components and equipment assets to and from the ship for
repair and subsequent return to units ashore.  The secondary
mission of the T-AVB is to provide resupply in a conventional
RORO configuration if the IMA is not embarked aboard.
MPS/MPF TRAINING AND OPERATIONS
    MPSRON's previously demonstrated their utility in several
ways, although it took the Gulf War to make true believers
out of skeptics or those who felt the entire program was too
arduous.  Inherent MPF flexibility makes it ideally suited
for any type of mission, nearly anywhere in the world.
However, it must be understood that the MPF program requires
significant time, planning and forethought in order to be
even remotely successful.  The key requirement in the entire
program is training that encompasses not only awareness of
how the MPS concept operates, but more importantly, how to
operate it.
    Such lack of awareness, understanding and operational
capability was painfully obvious in the early weeks of the
Gulf War.  Because of shortcomings in unit training, many
commanders had limited knowledge of what equipment was (or
was not) embarked for them aboard MPF vessels.  Consequently,
many units did not sufficiently supplement their equipment or
supply deficiencies through use of available follow-on
airlift, and had to scramble to locate and secure basic
necessities required to accomplish even the most elementary
of missions.  This was in sharp contrast to units which
conducted rehearsals, local training and recent MPF training
deployments in the months preceding actual deployment to the
Gulf.  Such units were already comfortable and familiar with
the entire MPF operation, and off-load and distribution
operations were therefore timely, efficient and effective.
Units which conducted no prior MPS/T-AVB training were
understandably in varied states of confusion throughout MPF
operations. (1:41)
    MPF ability to rapidly deploy a unit and its equipment to
the theater of operations has significantly enhanced Marine
Corps capabilities.  However, arrival and off-load of the
MAGTF is but the beginning--serious attention and effort must
also be directed toward sustainment of the force once it has
arrived.  Ensuring that we have the ability to both employ
and sustain the associated elements of the MAGTF requires
continuous, meaningful training with all the equipment and
operational focus which would exist in a crisis scenario.  It
is in this arena of training that elements of the ACE tend to
sell themselves short, particularly within the aircraft
maintenance, supply and logistics realm spearheaded by the
aviation logistics unit:  MALS.
MALS, T-AVB AND DEPLOYMENT READINESS
    The mission of MALS during a crisis situation is to
deploy as an element of the MAGTF in support of either
amphibious or land operations and provide aviation logistics
support to aircraft within its purview.  Accordingly, MALS
must maintain currency and cognizance over identification of
the type and amount of support which must be provided, be
able to direct the prioritization of movement of that
support, and possess the means to transport and embark its
logistical support materiel.
    In order to accomplish such a broad mission, the Marine
Aviation Logistics Support Program (MALSP) provides the
framework within which aviation maintenance and supply
support are fully integrated.  It enables rapid task-
organized aviation logistics support for combat operations
predicated upon the mix of aircraft utilized.  MALSP is
designed to interface with MPF and T-AVB operations.  MALSP
Allowance Support Packages contain the prescribed allowances
for spare parts, support equipment, mobile facilities, and
support personnel required to sustain the ACE in combat.
(7:1.15)
    MALS readiness and deployment preparation must therefore
be a continuous process.  Consequently, MALS must pay
particular attention to its deployment plans, as it may be
tasked with providing aviation logistical support for any
combination of MAG deployments, ranging from training
exercises to crisis action response into remote and/or
hostile environments.  In order to provide for such support,
MALS conducts detailed predeployment preparations and
planning in coordination with supported units to ensure
sufficient support can and will be provided, based upon the
theater situation.
    Generally speaking, MALS is not structured in a fashion
that facilitates its full deployment except in a scenario
such as the Gulf War.  In most routine deployments, such
configuration is not necessary, as requisite logistical
support suffices with a limited number of maintenance and
supply personnel and applicable stores of components and
"common usage" materiel.  Non-functional components are
exchanged and retrograded to the parent MALS site, repaired
and returned to this "rotable" pool system via opportune
lift.  However, a deployment of the majority (or sum total)
of a MAG' s aircraft requires inordinate amounts and degree of
IMA support, necessitating a compensatory "en masse"
deployment of the supporting MALS.
    Simply considering the end result of the Gulf War, one
would surmise that the MALS/T-AVB program is one of the most
successful systems to come along in recent memory in the
aviation community.  Lift requirements were markedly reduced,
the MALS was deployed expeditiously, and for the first time,
aviation logistics was not a limiting factor in the
operational scheme. (4:5)  Although more successful than
hoped, this evolution still experienced several difficulties
before, during and after the Gulf War which detracted from
its potential in several areas.  It was apparent by the
number and variety of after-action "lessons learned" from the
Gulf War that MALS lacks the required training and practice
to efficiently deploy under such pretenses as a unit.
PROBLEMS WITH THE MALS/T-AVB PROGRAM
    The Gulf War was the Corps' first opportunity to actively
employ the T-AVB in combat operations and it was readily
apparent that failure to utilize the T-AVB would have had
serious impact on ACE mission performance and completion.
However, many problems were encountered with the activation
and employment of the T-AVB's that could just as easily
resulted in such undoing.  Numerous "lessons learned" from
the Gulf War indicated that the T-AVB and aviation logistics
systems worked relatively well, but that several key areas
needed attention to make them more effective.  While some of
these issues can be attributed to routine "growing pains",
most can be traced to a specific, correctable shortcoming--
the lack of dedicated training with the T-AVB by those who
would employ it during a crisis situation.
    As with any amphibious evolution, logistical support
elements aboard the T-AVB must be properly embarked to
provide maximized effectiveness and employability once the
theater of operations has been accessed.  During T-AVB MMF
load plans and mount-out just prior to deployment to the
Gulf, several "eleventh hour" additions and deletions were
made which, although deemed to be of necessity, caused
significant impact on embark operations.  In some instances,
MMF' s appeared to have been selected not based upon their
designed or intended purpose or function, but rather as a
item matching a shipboard configuration requirement.
Additions to the original load plan resulted in significant
support equipment and maintenance related equipage shortages,
while in other cases, unnecessary duplication (even
triplication) of items embarked and transported to the Gulf.
(11:19)
    According to their Required Operational Capabilities
statement, T-AVB's are to be activated within 5 days of
notification, with another 2-4 days allotted for MMF,
equipment and personnel embarkation.  In the case of the Gulf
War, it was noted that although these ships are supposed to
be maintained in such a relative state of readiness, the
overall material condition of both ships (USNS Curtiss and
USNS Wright) was less than expected and required.  This led
to problems during the deployment to and from the Gulf, as
well as while the ships were in the theater of operation.
(5:5)
    In addition to degraded material condition of the
T-AVB's, neither ship was able to meet the required five day
activation deadline.  The USNS Wright was unable to do so, as
it was undergoing major shipyard work when activated and
consequently arrived several weeks late, while the USNS
Curtiss required twice the allotted time, taking ten days to
get underway. (13:13)  In addition, after setting sail,
Curtiss had to return to port twice to affect necessary
repairs, resulting in a transit time to theater of 38 days.
Although the degraded material condition and crew activation
for the ships were major factors in delays getting to
theater, another equally vital component was the lack of
experience on the part of MALS in both loading and operating
the T-AVB. (2:9)
    Lack of T-AVB use and operation during routine peacetime
training is not only contrary to basic Marine Corps doctrine
of maintaining unit readiness at peak potential to ensure
mission accomplishment, it is also reprehensible.  In the
absence of such training, Marine lives during crisis (or
humanitarian) missions are placed in jeopardy.  Without the
necessary logistical support for theater based-aircraft,
medivac, reconnaissance, close air support, air defense,
close-in fire support, and the numerous other missions of
Marine Aviation are severely impacted.
    In the case of the USNS Curtiss, utilization of the
Aviation Logistics Support Ship concept got off to a good
start, but has not been maintained.  The Curtiss was
delivered to the Marine Corps and underwent its first sea
trial/activation during August and September 1989.  In a
"real world" operating scenario, the ship was anchored in the
vicinity of San Clemente Island off the coast of southern
California and was operated as designed and intended--as a
sea-based IMA in support of Marine aviation. (12:V)  The
exercise lasted a total of nine days and was considered a
qualified success, as it effectively demonstrated the T-AVB
concept and capability to embark and operate a functional IMA
in a sea-based environment for an "extended" period of time.
However, built-in and program artificialities, inadequate MMF
configuration or quantities, and problems resulting from less
than optimum consumable supply selection combined to reduce
the Curtiss' effectiveness and capabilities. (12:27)
    Perhaps the most important lesson learned from the
Curtiss "shakedown" cruise was the realization that talking
and planning such an innovation as the T-AVB is much easier
than actually putting it into practice.  The complexity of
T-AVB management, embarkation and employment all dictate that
the ship be routinely worked into the various MALS (and MAG)
training schedules, lest the knowledge and capability to
effectively utilize it become obscured.
    Such realization was not lost on aviation maintenance and
supply personnel of the MALS within the Third Marine Aircraft
Wing (3rd MAW), as they have since attempted to incorporate
the T-AVB into routine training.  Requests were forwarded in
attempt to ascertain the necessary funding and authorization
to send appropriate IMA personnel to T-AVB schooling where
students learn its proper employment and their
responsibilities when embarked.  Part of this instruction
also included an actual tour of the Curtiss to familiarize
Marines with the ship.  Unfortunately, as is usually the case
when funding is in short supply, cut backs in areas related
to training occur and this was no exception, as this
invaluable education and "hands-on" experience was canceled
for lack of money to fund it. (10)
      A recent example demonstrating the impact of trying to
do "more with less" and being forced to depend on the
ingenuity of Marines to get the job done while not giving
them all the "tools" they require was relief and humanitarian
operations in Somalia.  Based on the mission of the T-AVB and
the operational scenario, activation and use of the USNS
Curtiss was more than justified and applicable; yet, its use
was denied.  The resulting lack of access to T-AVB lift and
support forced 3rd MAW units to subsequently request
strategic lift from the U.S. Air Force in an attempt to get
all requisite aviation logistical support MMF's for aircraft
in theater; this too, was denied. (10)  The lack of
capability or desire to field the T-AVB in such a scenario
sends the wrong message to MALS, for if it was not considered
"appropriate" for Somalia, it must therefore be
"inaccessible" for vital peacetime training, so "don't even
ask."
    Consequently, there was no IMA ashore or at sea, as the
USS Tripoli, supporting 3rd MAW aircraft for the first 10
days, had to depart for other operations.  Aviation support
operations were then reduced to two capabilities:  MALS-16
would have to make due with whatever supplies they brought
with them, and, rely exclusively on logistical support
airlift to ferry required supplies back and forth from
southern California.  Such parts shuttle runs averaged a turn
around time in excess of 5 days, utilizing Air Force C-5
aircraft, which is prohibitively expensive to operate in such
a fashion. (10)  Had the T-AVB been activated, untold money
would have no doubt been saved in transport costs alone, not
to mention the measure of improvement in aircraft readiness
that would have been realized.
THE T-AVB QUANDARY AND THE "FIX"
    In order to retain the flexible response capabilities it
has become noted for, the Marine Corps must continue to
pursue and maintain a properly trained and equipped force to
ensure its preparedness and effectiveness in the future.  The
Corps needs to follow through on initiatives that provide
optimum benefit, especially in terms of power projection and
readiness.  Acquiring a potential such as the T-AVB of the
MPSRON and not taking the time or effort to periodically
incorporate the T-AVB into "hands-on" training as a routine
(or not being able to do so due to funding shortfalls) serves
only to reduce Marine aviation readiness and result in slower
response time in the event of a crisis/reaction situation
requirement.
    As applicably demonstrated by MPF/T-AVB operations during
the Gulf War, efficient and effective employment of these
capable and proven programs hinges on training and routine
operational use:
--  T-AVB's should be activated and thoroughly exercised
at least annually.  This will improve the material condition
of the ships and reduce costs associated with
activations/deactivations each year. (5:5)
--  Regularly scheduled, meaningful training exercises
using the T-AVB should be conducted by MALS to enhance
loading and operating experience and help ensure that T-AVB
(civilian) crews maintain proficiency.  This would reduce
activation and operating costs, ultimately reducing overall
exercise costs. (3:2)
   --   Practice evolutions should mirror anticipated real
world operations as much as possible to gain maximum benefit
from "real world" lessons learned. (11:19)
   --  Utilize the T-AVB programmed biannual training
provision for exercises (in addition to the current five year
breakouts for engine checks).  Presently, implementation of
such valuable training is subject to the ever-vacillating
availability (or lack) of funding and/or the option of the
MAW in its scheduled training process.  It is not surprising
to find, therefore, that the Curtiss has not been employed
for any realistic training since the end of the Gulf War.  It
is also not unreasonable to assume that the MALS are probably
not optimally prepared or capable of efficient mission
accomplish or maximized readiness in future T-AVB operations.
Although both the Marine Corps and Fleet Commanders-In-Chief
endorsed biannual T-AVB exercises as the most cost effective
solution to ship, employment and procedural problems with the
program as far back as 1989, the ships remain underutilized.
(3: 2)
    --   Required funding should be programmed during the
yearly budgetary process to assure T-AVB training is
included.  Post Gulf War lessons learned identified lack of
T-AVB utilization during peacetime as a primary culprit in
less-than-optimum theater aviation logistical readiness,
recommending both adequate funding for the program and
biannual exercises of the T-AVB for not less than 30 days to
prevent similar future shortcomings. (3:2)
    It has been said that the "more you bleed in peace, the
less you will bleed in war", and much the same can be said
for the capability of aviation logistical support and the
T-AVB concept.  Purposeful training results in increased
familiarity, confidence, effectiveness and, most importantly,
combat readiness within the Marine Corps.  Training is a
necessity--a reality of life whose importance seems to emerge
only after the fact--after an aircraft mishap; after an
avoidable accident in the workplace; after friendly fire
incidents; after the death of a Marine or Sailor.   Arguably,
we must keep spending under control, but at what point do we
say ENOUGH! and refuse to allow the further erosion of
necessary training for our Marines?  For the T-AVB, that time
is now.
T-AVB EXERCISE:  MONETARY OUTLAY VERSUS BENEFIT
    By examining the USNS Curtiss activation exercise
conducted by 3rd MAW in August of 1989, the expense incurred
vis-a-vis benefit gained for such valuable training can be
put into perspective.  The overall cost of the nine day
exercise came to approximately $1,400,000.  Of this total,
$1,200,000 came from Navy Exercise Funds which were utilized
to activate, conduct the exercise, then deactivate the
Curtiss, while the remaining $200,000 was required for
temporary additional duty (TAD) expenses and was funded by
the Marine Corps. (12:6)  Based on these figures, it is
estimated that a similar size and scope exercise conducted
today would cost approximately $1,393,000 in Navy Exercise
Funds and another $232,000 in Marine Corps TAD funds in
current Fiscal Year (FY-93) dollars. (8:38)
    Consequently, for the two T-AVB's the Marine Corps (Navy)
owns, a combined yearly training expenditure of approximately
$3.5 million would be required to ensure MALS/IMA efficiency
and effectiveness in employment of the Aviation Logistics
Support Ship concept.  Already proven in their invaluable
worth to Marine Aviation during the Gulf War, the T-AVB
potential needs to be exercised on a routine basis by MALS
units to attain and maintain their decisive "edge" with
respect to assuring aviation readiness for in-theater
aircraft.  Anything less than that is, at the very least, a
dangerous disservice to the Marine on the ground.
FUNDAMENTAL LESSONS ARE THE EASIEST TO LEARN
    The primary lesson that can be taken from T-AVB
utilization in SWA is that unit training and education for
the MALS are vital and fundamental foundations from which
effective aviation support and resultant force projection
emanates.  The T-AVB program should be recognized as the
necessary combination of logistics and operations for the ACE
commander and allotted sufficient peacetime training
opportunity.
    As with any other weapon support system, if the T-AVB
concept is not given proper attention and appropriately
exercised, MALS will be hard pressed to employ them to their
potential during combat.  After all, we are supposed to learn
from "lessons learned" and pay attention to the experience of
others.  Proper peacetime training requirements to ensure
maximized utilization of the T-AVB during a crisis situation
is no exception.  MALS therefore cannot be expected to be
properly deployed or employed in times of war if it is not
realistically managed, prepared and trained on a recurring
basis in peacetime to deal with the type of environment and
potential hostilities expected during conflict resolution.
The only means by which to acquire such capability and
experience is for the MALS to "train like it will fight."
With the lives of our fellow Marines and overall mission
accomplishment possibly in the balance, can we really afford
to do anything else?
                                     BIBLIOGRAPHY
1.	Barna, Captain Tom D. , "MPF Off load:  No Longer a Paper
Tiger", Marine Corps Gazette, November 91.
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National Strategy", Marine Corps Gazette, Nov 92.
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