The Digitized Field Armory
When Marines take their weapons to the field for training, each Marine usually maintains possession of their weapon throughout the training exercise. But sometimes there is a need for the weapons to be placed in a secure field armory. This often occurs with crew-served weapons, or because the Marine’s duties make it cumbersome to maintain the weapon, such as when operating equipment, or performing maintenance.
The operation of a field armory established for training exercises requires a means to maintain the same security and accountability of assets as the garrison armory. In the field, this principally relates to procedures for assets checked into and out of the field armory, as well as the continued performance of daily sight counts. When Marines check out their weapon to go to the field, the NAVMC 10520, Weapons Custody Receipt, remains in the unit’s garrison armory. Accountability is normally done on paper (i.e., logbooks or Excel spreadsheets), with no digital trail to the garrison armory’s account. NAVMC 10520 “Field Cards” are often created, but this duplication of a critical record can cause confusion in accountability.
Recently, Combat Logistics Regiment 45 (CLR-45), a Marine Forces Reserve unit headquartered in Marietta Georgia, utilized a digitized field armory for a training exercise. CLR-45 uses Asset Information Management Solutions Automated Armory (AIMS-AA) to provide efficiency, accountability, and security compliance for its garrison armory on Dobbins Air Reserve Base. AIMS provides a digitized custody and inventory capability focused on the accountability of assets maintained and issued from secure, restricted, or limited access facilities.
Automated Armory is an AIMS module for Marines working in an armory and Marines that are accountable for armory assets. The AIMS-AA hardware suite includes a Panasonic Toughbook, bar code scanner, fingerprint reader, and electronic signature pad.
While AIMS-AA is principally used in garrison, it has the capability to operate disconnected from the unit’s garrison armory. In supporting a field exercise, it continues to provide full functionality and accountability of an organization’s assets. It has the capability to segregate all the assets that are maintained in the field armory as a single grouping, separate but parallel with maintaining the accounting of assets provided by the garrison armory.
For its field exercise CLR-45 Marines exchanged their NAVMC 10520s when checking out their assets from the garrison armory, and the garrison armory maintained those custody receipts as normal. Once the field armory was established, check-in and check-out was accomplishing using AIMS-AA’s digital devices (bar code scanner, fingerprint reader, and electronic signature pad). All check-ins and check-outs were captured digitally. This provided a complete and accurate paperless audit trail that maintained accountability and supported the daily sight count.
The CLR-45 field exercise was the yearly Annual Training (AT) event that combined a footprint of approximately 250 Marines from throughout the Regiment. The purpose of the exercise was to secure a position, effectively maintain command and control functions of the Logistics Combat Element (LCE) and allow Marines to complete adjacent training with active duty partners. The exercise lasted 14 days and included a deployment and retrograde to and from the Atlanta Georgia area to Camp Lejeune North Carolina and two weeks of continuous operations at LZ Parrot aboard Camp Lejeune.
Chief players included the Regimental Command staff, Headquarters Company (HQ Co), and elements from Food Service Company, Landing Support Company, and Communications Company. Approximately 615 armory assets were used in an expeditionary command and control forward operating structure.
For the exercise, CLR-45 integrated two subordinate companies that do not utilize AIMS-AA in their garrison armory into the field armory. This included 217 assets and 101 individuals that were seamlessly integrated into HQ Co field armory accountability. AIMS-AA demonstrated the ability to quickly and easily include these assets for accountability without any confusion or negative impacts to procedure, security, or auditability.
AIMS-AA provides greatly improved accountability over paper based procedures conducted in the field. Paper based procedures in the field are not only subject to ad hoc record keeping, but are also subject to the challenges of weather, environment and an armory on the move. With AIMS-AA, all records are digitized in one place, with full traceability.
AIMS-AA provides full and more effective auditability of action conducted in a field environment. All actions are easily synched back to the master computer in the garrison armory upon conclusion of the training exercise.
AIMS-AA provides greatly improved efficiency in a training exercise where time is constrained and specifically focused on mission accomplishment. Check-ins and check-outs are accomplished easily and quickly. By using AIMS-AA’s electronic scanners and readers, there is no paperwork involved while operating in the field. (The AIMS suite also includes an uninterrupted power source that can double the Toughbook’s battery capacity.) Because all functions are accomplished digitally and can be synched back to the master computer in the garrison armory, there are no “swivel chair” actions to transfer paper records to the garrison armory, and thus no gaps in the audit trail.
AIMS-AA provides effective accountability when a field armory is established without any changes to the original account. A field armory account can be set up with no impacts or changes to the authoritative Consolidated Memorandum Receipt (CMR), even when integrating subordinate organizations.
AIMS-AA’s value is rested in its ability to provide confidence and compliance. AIMS-AA enables users to spend less time on administrative actions and processing paperwork and more time spent leading others and preparing for operational needs. It does this without making trade-offs between efficiency, accountability, and security.
AIMS-AA is an extremely effective solution for extending confidence and compliance to a field training exercise. It saves time that is crucial in a time-constrained exercise (especially limited reserve Annual Training (AT) days) and does this while improving accountability and security operating within the unique challenges of an expeditionary, field environment.
Gunnery Sergeant Joshua Davidson, the CLR-45 Armory Chief summarized the effectiveness and efficiency of operating a digitized field armory. “The automated armory saved us time that was crucial in a time-constrained exercise with reservists. It allowed me to train my ordnance Marines across a wide range of T&R standards where previously they would have spent the entire exercise managing logbooks and sight counts in the field armory. We were able to provide real time accountability with a confidence and accuracy that traditional field weapons cards and logbooks cannot provide.”
For more information, please contact:
AIMS-AA Regional Manager, East Coast
AIMS-AA Regional Manager, West Coast