Background. The Marine Corps acquires, operates, and maintains a vast array of ground combat equipment and components. High operational-tempo and high equipment-to-maintainer ratios have minimized available time and resources for corrosion-related preventative maintenance services on equipment. The result is a decrease in system readiness and often times a maintenance backlog. One alternative that was reviewed at the DoD level was the implementation of Corrosion Service Centers (CSCs). A December 2003 report to Congress on the Long-Term Strategy to Reduce Corrosion and the Effects of Corrosion defined a CSC as a facility which "Provides comprehensive corrosion-related preventive maintenance in an on-base facility (avoiding transport to depot maintenance activities). Applies corrosion inhibited washing. Preventive compound application, vapor-phase corrosion inhibitor, surface preparation, and anti-corrosive and chemical agent-resistant coatings." The CSC concept as described in the report closely resembles the Marine Corps Corrosion Repair Facilities (CRFs) currently operational within the Marine Expeditionary Forces (MEF) and several subordinate commands. CRF(s) have been in service since the 1990s and are geographically located to provide the best possible support to the Force Commanders. The capacity and mission of a CRF is to perform corrosion repair at the intermediate level which limits the amount of equipment that flows through a CRF any given year. Currently, CRF(s) service approximately 6% of the Marine Corps equipment within its geographical location. The cost to transport items to Depot Maintenance Facilities is excessive in comparison to the cost to operate a local Corrosion Repair Facility.
The CPAC Program Office has addressed the question of how to provide the next level of support directly to the war-fighter, thereby supporting the remaining 94%. The CPAC PM has determined that a corrosion prevention requirement definitely exists. In order to provide the next level of support, the CPAC Program Office implemented Corrosion Service Teams designed to provide direct support to the organizational commander. These teams operate from mobile systems that provide all the tools and equipment needed to service equipment at the unit, eliminating the need for the Marine to deliver equipment to a fixed facility for servicing that can be completed on-site. This approach reduces the logistics support requirements on the unit and provides an opportunity to service 100% of the unit’s equipment in a reduced time frame for less cost.
Discussion. The following paragraphs provide information on the corrective and preventive maintenance services available that are available to the local commanders today.
Corrosion Repair Facilities (CRFs):
The CRF's mission is to provide intermediate through limited depot maintenance activities to include body repairs, corrosion repair and protection, as well as complete or spot painting of all Ground Combat and Support Equipment of the Marine Expeditionary Force (MEF).
CRFs repair equipment and vehicles from Communications, Engineers, Motor Transport, and the Ordnance communities. In addition to supporting the MEF, CRFs provide support to other Services within the geographical area as requested. If CRFs did not exist, vehicles and equipment would go without repainting and corrosion repair for a longer period of time, primarily due to the unavailability of local services and transportation cost. Without the efforts of a CRF, equipment would deteriorate more rapidly, requiring replacement years sooner.
Corrosion Service Teams (CSTs):
The mission of the Corrosion Service Team is "To provide Marine Force Commanders with the capability to combat the effects of corrosion on Marine Corps Ground Combat Equipment within the organization and to extend the time between required repairs at Corrosion Repair Facilities.
Marine Corps Corrosion Service Teams are the means for implementing the set of corrosion control procedures for organizational corrosion activities and preservation defined in TM 4795-OR/1A. The CST services are being implemented via mobile equipment and personnel. These teams go to specific lots and work around the Marine's normal work schedule. Corrosion Service Team efforts involve assessing, categorizing, surface preparation, coating and application of corrosion inhibitors on thousands of pieces of ground combat and ground combat support equipment. The program's base-line has been established using the Corrosion Assessment Checklist (CPAC-CAC) developed by the Marine Corps Corrosion Prevention and Control (CPAC) Program Office. The Corrosion Assessment Checklist was presented to the Defense Science Board's Task Force on Corrosion, which indicated that replicating this approach across DoD would provide a solid basis for improvement. Capitalizing on assessments conducted since June 2004, the CPAC Program Office is using the collected data to make fact-based repair and prevention decisions, which would have been impossible without a corrosion assessment. Data obtained from the corrosion assessments is being used by unit commanders to identify candidates for Corrosion Service Team efforts such as surface preparation, spot painting, and the application of Corrosion Prevention Compounds (CPCs). The data may also be used in prioritizing assets to be cycled through CRFs and will assist the Marine Corps in budgeting for corrosion prevention and corrective maintenance dollars, assessing equipment readiness, and identifying corrosion trends and problem areas.
The Marine Corps now has the ability to monitor the effects of corrosion on equipment throughout its life cycle and impact future decisions.
The risk in developing, prototyping, implementing and managing CSTs is low. The Marine Corps has already established and continues to support Corrosion Repair Facilities (CRFs) at Camp Pendleton, CA; Camp Lejeune, NC; Cherry Point, NC; Camp Kinser, Okinawa, Japan; and Kaneohe Bay, HI. These facilities are government owned and geographically located near the Force Commanders in order to provide a more responsive level of support to the war-fighter. Likewise, the CST's mission is provide corrosion services oriented toward prevention at the organization and to reduce the long term effects of corrosion on equipment when left untreated.
The operational units derive significant benefits from using the CRF. They do not have to incur prohibitively high transportation and repair costs by using depot repair centers outside their geographical location and the quality of the work is consistently high. The same benefits are now being realized through the implementation of CST services that provide direct support to the organization in the battle against corrosion. Both programs complement each other and provide the Marine Force Commanders a complete Corrosion Prevention and Control package, designed to extend overall equipment service life. The return on investment is realized by avoiding the high transportation cost associated with moving equipment to maintenance depots, and the savings associated by not replacing equipment due to corrosion alone.