Change is inevitable, and the Armed Forces certainly aren’t immune. Much of this change from can be attributed to the many Base Alignment and Closure activities conducted by the federal government to increase efficiency.
For this reason, many of the U.S. Armed Forces Reserve branches have collaborated—creating one large Reserve Center instead of units in individual buildings and locations. One of these, the U.S. Armed Forces Reserve Center located in Bell, California, was a consolidation of Armed Forces reserve units in the area.
Within the Reserve Center, the Marine Corps’ 3rd Air Naval Gunfire Liasion Company (ANGLICO) was dealing with several challenges—related to the consolidation as well as their own processes. Faced with potential lost property and deployment disorganization, they regrouped with one goal in mind: to have enlisted soldiers and non-commissioned officers keep all military initial-issue items on base. If everything is on site, it prevents loss and aids in deployment.
Loss prevention when it comes to military gear storage is a larger issue than most people realize. Each reserve soldier is issued thousands of dollars worth of equipment—and that’s just for basic issue. Add specialized equipment, such as binoculars, flight suits, and other items, and you’re looking at a pretty large sum of money per solider.
When the ANGLICO soldiers were issued gear, they were also given a tuff box—a heavy-duty plastic bin—to keep all of the equipment in one place. Even though the boxes provided a way to keep track of equipment, storing and stacking the boxes was a complicated process. The first issue was the containers were constantly getting lost or misplaced—and the other came down to efficiency. The boxes would stack on top of one another—meaning if a soldiers’ box was in the middle of a stack, there was a fair amount of energy and time wasted getting to that box, taking out what was needed, and putting the box back up in its rightful place. When these soldiers are only at the reserve center a few weekends a year, every moment is precious, and they needed a better way to organize the items.
“The biggest advantage of these racks is the accountability. They can be locked, but the weapons can still be seen and accounted for. If there’s an empty space, they know very quickly that something is missing.” -Paul Ferro, McMurray Stern Design Consultant
Determined to find a better solution for military gear storage, the Reserve Center contacted McMurray Stern, who conceived of cost-effective wire mesh cages to place in the large supply room used by the ANGLICO unit. These cages could act as lockers for the individual soldiers, with enough room to hold two duffle bags and a rucksack full of equipment, which was the standard issue for each Marine solider. Knowing that this area would also become a sort of makeshift locker room for the unit, the cages were made larger than needed to accommodate other things, such as uniforms and personal items. This way, when the soldiers come for weekend drill, they can come and change into their different uniforms easily.
The breathable mesh cages serve an additional purpose. “And, if they’re doing drills while they’re out here for the weekend and it happens to rain, you can’t just roll all of your damp equipment up and put it in your duffle bag. The soldiers can air things out and they’re still locked away safely.”
After the issue of equipment and gear was squared away, there was another inventory concern—this time, with the ANGLICO’s armory. Older weapons racks were creating issues for the storage of the unit’s weaponry and sensitive items such as night vision goggles, thermal sights, and optics.
Once McMurray Stern went through an inventory audit with the unit’s Armorer and Armory Custodians, they clearly saw that the Universal Weapons Rack (UWR) would be an obvious solution that would organize the weapons and supplemental equipment and save time from an inventory perspective. The biggest advantage of these racks is the accountability, as the UWRs can be locked, but the weapons can still be seen and accounted for. If there’s an empty space, it’s an immediate clue that something is missing.
Another benefit that helped the ANGLICO unit was the modularity of the weapons racks. “These units have a lot of optics, which have to be secured, and with the UWR, these optics can be fully mounted to the weapon and stored in the rack.”
As a result of the cages for the equipment and the new weapons rack solution for their Armory, the ANGLICO unit has been able to run a more efficient and organized operation.
Few places on the planet are as secure as the armory on a military base. Once inside, the armory is often more organized than any other storage facility. After observing how the Armorer and Armory Custodians performed their inventories—opening every drawer and cabinet—McMurray Stern advised and implemented the Universal Weapons Rack (UWR) as a solution. By providing a cage-like structure, the UWR keeps weapons secure and visible for fast identification and inventory. This storage innovation has dramatically improved how the Armory operates and secures its weapons.
With these two military gear storage solutions, the 3rd ANGLICO in Bell, California is now poised to improve their time management and practice best security standards as well as maintain their organizational prowess.
United States Marine Corps Forces Reserve Center
A merger into a larger Center creates a need for equipment accountability for the Marine Corps Air Naval Gunfire Liasion Company
Cost-effective mesh cages that keep gear in check—avoiding the loss of expensive basic issue equipment for reserve soldiers