QUANTICO, VA --
In support of the warfighter, Marine Corps Systems Command (MCSC) reaches out to specialists throughout the Corps and the other military services. These are the Program Executive Offices (PEOs) where pools of equipment and systems specialists readily offer expertise in their particular subjects.
Collectively, the PEOs are an alphabet soup of acronyms. MCSC works most closely with the Army’s PEO Combat Support and Combat Service Support (CS&CSS); the Army’s PEO Ground Combat Systems (GCS); the Navy’s PEO Enterprise Information Systems (EIS); and the Marine Corps’ PEO Land Systems (LS), which is co-located with MCSC at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va.
PEO LS, indeed, draws heavily from MCSC expertise.
“Under competency alignment, my staff is aligned to MCSC very much like a homeroom school concept,” said William Taylor, PEO LS. “Under this arrangement, competency-aligned members are not afraid to ‘tell the emperor he has no clothes.’ It provides the necessary checks and balances to keep things level. Without this arrangement with MCSC, the PEO could not be as effective as it is.”
Although PEO LS, established in 2007 as the Marine Corps’ first and only PEO, is relatively new, other military services have managed their major weapons programs for the last two decades under the PEO construct. The intent was to streamline the reporting chain between major program managers and their programs’ milestone decision authorities, and to bring focused, disciplined attention to higher-dollar, very complex and, in most cases, high-visibility programs.
The role of the PEO is well established in Department of Defense and Navy directives. In the case of Navy PEOs and PEO LS, they report directly to the Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development and Acquisition. PEO EIS fits in this category. They work closely with MCSC supporting the next Generation Enterprise Network, which is the Navy Department’s Intranet Development Program, and Global Combat Support System - Marine Corps (GCSS-MC). GCSS-MC has a dual chain of command falling under MCSC for administrative, budget and contractual support, and also under the operational control of PEO EIS, sponsored by the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command.
GCSS-MC is the initiative to modernize and transform Marine Corps logistics information systems. “With the support of MCSC, team GCSS-MC will deliver enabling software to the warfighter that will change the model for expeditionary support,” said Lieutenant Colonel Jim Stone, Senior Marine and Change Agent for GCSS-MC. “Our goal is to enable transformation of the logistics model with 21st Century logistics IT capabilities focused on the warfighter’s needs.”
Hundreds of miles away in Warren, Mich., the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) Joint Program Office (JPO) has a significant workforce under PEO CS&CSS. The PEO assists in coordinating requirements, funding, planning and particularly support in the areas of logistics, engineering and test and evaluation. The Army has provided a Project Manager to serve as the Army Principal Deputy Program Manager (PM), the Deputy PM for Production, three of the product Assistant PMs, and the Logistics and Sustainment PM at Warren.
PEO CS&CSS also has the Project Manager for Joint Combat Support Systems that manages systems such as Joint Light Tactical Vehicles. The Project Manager for Tactical Vehicles works with MCSC on Light Tactical Vehicles and Medium Tactical Vehicles.
Also at Warren, PEO GCS is the "System of Systems Integrator" of the Ground Combat Systems for the armed forces and leads the Army Transformation toward future systems. PEO GCS works with MCSC on systems such as the Joint Lightweight 155mm Howitzer and unmanned ground vehicles, better known as robotics.
The Command also works closely with another Army PEO. MCSC’s Infantry Combat Equipment collaborates extensively with PEO Soldier across a wide array of products and equipment. These include, but are not limited to, helmets and head-borne systems, ballistic eyewear and hearing protection, body armor and uniforms.
The MCSC web of PEO connections is far flung, yet its most obvious and integral tie is with PEO LS. PEO LS manages a diverse program management portfolio that includes the Marine Corps’ largest ground acquisition program, the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle, the next-generation amphibious forcible entry capability for the Marine Corps. PEO LS has two command and control programs: Common Aviation Command and Control System and Ground-Air Task Oriented Radar.
There are also ground programs such as the Logistics Vehicle System Replacement, Lightweight 155mm Towed Howitzer, Medium Tactical Vehicle Replacement, JLTV and Marine Personnel Carrier. The monetary value of these programs across the Future Years Defense Program is about $8.3 billion.
“We’re significantly different from other PEOs because I don’t view us as an autonomous organization capable of functioning on its own,” Mr. Taylor said. ”I am critically dependent on MCSC for competency support.
“In essence,” he said, “PEO Land Systems has program management authority for the assigned program portfolio. I depend upon MCSC to provide all the competency support, contracting, engineering, logistics, etc. I can’t operate independently.”
The interdependence of MCSC and PEO LS, even more than the Command’s relationship with other PEOs, Taylor added, breeds a mutual drive for success.
“I view myself as part of MCSC,” he said. “I have their interests at heart. I couldn’t succeed unless MCSC succeeds.”