FEBRUARY 15, 2017, MARINE CORPS LOGISTICS BASE BARSTOW, Calif. – Marines from Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California, and Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, joined with soldiers from the National Training Center, Fort Irwin, California, to test in-transit visibility of equipment being transported from west coast to east coast bases using RFID and SHOUT nano devices aboard Marine Corps Logistics Base Barstow, Calif., Jan 27.
This was a multi-faceted training exercise beginning the first week and ending the last week of January. During this activity, the 1st Marine Logistics Group, 1st Supply Battalion, Supply Company Marine Air Ground Task Force, MAGTF Marine Materiel Distribution Center conducted the field exercise in support of the Rail Head Operations Group.
“(They did this) by providing in-transit visibility of 2nd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion movement from MCLB Barstow’s Yermo Annex and Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center 29 Palms to the National Training Center at Fort Irwin,” explained Staff Sgt. Lydia Lindsey, MMDC operations chief. “(This allowed the units) to perform integrated Rail Operational training and achieve required Mission Essential Tasks.”
One task was to test the in-transit visibility of the equipment using RFID, Radio Frequency Identification, as well as the SHOUT nano technology and compare the differences in tracking capabilities.
“One of the devices we were using to track the convoys was the SHOUT Nano,” said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Jennifer Lewis, MMDC operations officer. “Roughly the size of a cell phone, it is a two-way satellite GPS (Global Positioning System) tracking device. It can even support text messaging and can also work as an emergency beacon.
“The Nano is very useful for us when it comes to tracking convoys because it provides near real-time tracking data that feeds to the National RF-ITV (Radio Frequency-In-Transit Visibility) Server. The individual tracking the Nano’s position can follow the convoy as it moves from origin to destination and can even determine when the device has stopped moving for some reason.”
Tracking can be done from various locations and reported to appropriate personnel to ensure safety of the equipment.
“For this exercise, we had personnel at Camp Pendleton tracking the movement of the Nano via the RF-ITV server who were able to see the convoy moving from the Yermo Annex to 29 Palms,” said Lewis. “They were able to see the convoy making several stops en route.”
Marines with MMDC and soldiers with 916th Sustainment Brigade Movement Control Center created RFID tags and Military Shipping Label (MSL) for 2nd LAR vehicles utilizing Automated Manifest System Tactical (AMS-TAC), explained Lindsey. Then MMDC provided in-transit visibility of multiple convoys.
“We track cargo using RFID tags, which are more cost-effective, but not quite as precise as the Nano,” said Lewis. “The tags do not show real-time data, but rather “ping” interrogators located at various places such as gates to military installations and along major roads. When tracking an RFID tag, the individual will see the last known location that the tag has passed.”
The end game is to ensure that Marines and soldiers alike are able to use different assets to improve visibility with intermodal transportation, according to Lindsey.
“The Marines very much enjoyed the opportunity to learn about rail operations while providing in-transit visibility for the rolling stock coming out of the field,” said Lewis. “It was also beneficial for the Marines and Soldiers to have a chance to meet face-to-face and see firsthand how other services conduct their operations. We look forward to future training opportunities in Barstow.”
By Laurie Pearson, Marine Corps Logistics Base Barstow