On July 26th 2014, Gunnery Sergeant Hipolito Nuñez was the first Marine to be stationed at Naval Supply Systems Command (NAVSUP) Fleet Logistic Center (FLC) Bahrain as a part of the Navy Logistics Integration (NLI) program. The NLI program helps to increase efficiency in providing support to the Amphibious Readiness Group (ARG) and the Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), meaning getting the supplies Marines are requesting to them faster in order to help with mission readiness and so far the results have been positive. “It’s all about integration—it goes from just working together, Navy and Marine Corps, to being completely integrated,” said Captain Sean Egge, Commanding Officer of NAVSUP FLC Bahrain, of the partnership between Marine Corps Logistics Command (LOGCOM) and NAVSUP FLC Bahrain through the NLI program, “It ends up for much better, quicker, faster, more efficient support to those forward deployed forces. Both the Navy and Marine Corps bring their expertise to help each other to be better.”
When Nuñez first reported to NAVSUP FLC Bahrain, he was immediately accepted into the command and given a key section in which he started supervising both Sailors and civilian workers. Speaking on his success and partnership with NAVSUP FLC Bahrain, Nuñez said, “They gave me the tools, they gave me personnel, they gave me equipment and I’m able to better assist the Marine Corps.” Because of the support that NAVSUP FLC Bahrain has provided for the program and Nuñez, he has been able to relay his experience to Marine Corps Logistics. “I am learning and at the same time I am passing that information down to my headquarters. They are learning just like I am learning how we are set up in Bahrain and it is actually giving us results.”
Right away, Nuñez started learning about Navy logistics and sharing his expertise and experience with NAVSUP FLC Bahrain. In addition, Nunez created his very own tracking program where he is able to import all the tracking information for review and quick reference. This allows him to have consistent access to shipment information with which he can keep commands or units knowledgeable and up to date on the status of their cargo.
Much of what Nuñez does is providing the opportunities for the Marines to utilize his services. “In my case, it is much like a business where I am advertising and asking them to use me and my billet.” This means Nuñez is in constant contact with Marine commands/detachments at or incoming to Bahrain to showcase what he is able to provide to them. Nuñez is confident that longer the program is in practice the more customers will use the program which in turn will increase the efficiency.
One of the most significant accomplishments of the NLI program so far has been the increase in interaction and assistance to the different Marine units. Nuñez has seen an increase in communication between the Marine Corps units and NAVSUP FLC Bahrain. This means that the efficiency of shipments is increasing as the en route times are decreasing. Not only does Nuñez communicate with other units and commands in order to send or receive supplies, he also is the main point of contact for getting information on shipping regulations, customs requirements, and expediting shipments to their final destination.
Communication with Marine Corps Logistic Command, Marine Corps Headquarters, and the units associated with this area of responsibility has also seen a distinct increase. Nuñez has contact with them on a daily basis, reporting on the status of all cargo coming in and being sent out of Bahrain. Nuñez provided that this increase in communication provides a baseline to start metrics on the efficiency of shipping and receiving cargo. When asked about the metrics Nuñez said, “We are reporting how many hours that the parts have been in the warehouse and now we have the groundwork to make changes.” These metrics will serve to help the Marines and Sailors to increase production efficiency and capacity for getting them the supplies they need in order for mission success. Nuñez provides that the increase communication has helped the efficiency of delivering material to the end user. Material is now, on average, in transit for four to five days. Historically, the Marine Corps and Navy have only been able to track all material to the Amphibious Readiness Group and the ARG would distribute material to the disaggregated units, now with Nuñez in place, they are able to get material directly to the disaggregated units and decrease the time in transit.
In addition, Nunez has continued contact with his fellow counterparts at NAVSUP FLC Sigonella and NAVSUP FLC Yokosuka. When he first got here in July 2014 Nunez took over as the primary expeditor for Air Command Element (ACE) within NAVSUP FLC Bahrain and as a result of the NLI Program, has successfully shipped cargo to Dubai, Japan, and Afghanistan. “Now when scheduling items in ACE I’m able to contact them prior to sending out to the unit. There is communication with other overseas commands that we did not have before,” said Nuñez of the benefits of the NLI program around the world.
Nuñez has not only worked with the ARG and MEU but has also extended his expertise and logistical knowledge to working with the aircraft carriers George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) and Carl Vinson (CVN 70) in support of NAVSUP FLC Bahrain. Even though there are no Marine units on board the ship, Nunez insists on supporting everyone he can—“Those ships do not carry Marines, but because we are a part of NAVSUP FLC, they will come by and request assistance for different situations.” If his team is able to support then he sends them out. Nuñez has assisted in functions with the carriers such as movement of cargo and certification of HAZMAT. “He has provided support to deployed Navy assets—whatever the customer needs, he is able to make happen through coordination, communication and relationship,” said Capt. Sean Egge.
In addition to his duties at NAVSUP FLC Bahrain, Nuñez also assists his fellow Marines that are assigned to the Fleet Logistics Mail Center by providing mentorship and encouragement. Nuñez feels that it is important to for all the Marines that are working with NAVSUP FLC Bahrain to understand the importance of their positions here and the special opportunity they have to be working with Sailors and civilians. He understands that it is a different system but encourages his Marines to be positive and work hard so that they may be able to bring their experience and knowledge to their next command.
The gunnery sergeant does not only assist with movement of cargo but has also learned about and is using a Navy time management system to manage his civilian workers. This meant that Nuñez had to learn how to use the Navy system in order to supervise the government civilians hours, overtime, and leave requests. Nuñez also had to learn the Navy procedure for writing recommendations for Civilian of the Quarter, Civilian of the Year, participated in the Navy Career Board Evaluations and currently supervises the command physical fitness program. “Having an embedded Marine like Gunnery Sergeant Nuñez is certainly a force multiplier,” said Capt. Sean Egge, “ He immediately established himself on the team and not only has he improved support to Marine forces, but his leadership has greatly assisted in the development of our Sailors.”
In addition to all the regular logistical handling, Nuñez has made it a priority to have contact with incoming MEUs to introduce them to what can be provided during their time out here. He has set up video conferences and site visits to Defense Logistics Agency (DLA), Commander Task Force (CTF) 51/53, and Surface Deployment and Distribution Command (SDDC). He explains that “Since I am familiar with the area, I planned the entire visit in order to make better use of their time and to establish relationships with those entities.” This helps to give advance notice and experience with the different commands that the MEU’s will be having contact with and is another way that Nunez is streamlining the logistics process between Navy and Marine Corps.
Another benefit of having the program here is actually having a stationed Marine at the command as opposed to only having one here for a six month TAD. “I’m here for the long haul compared to Marines coming here for every six months so there is some type of continuity. I will be able to become the subject matter expert here in the area of responsibility and establish trust with this and other commands,” said Nunez of his position.
With Nunez’s hard work and determination, the NLI program in Bahrain is continuing to grow and develop. Nunez also credits the support of NAVSUP FLC Bahrain as something integral to his success with the NLI program. “First, it is important to notice that without the support of the NAVSUP FLC chain of command the success of this program would not be possible. In my particular case, Capt. Egge, NAVSUP FLC Bahrain Commander, has been nothing but supportive and that includes the entire chain of command and the NAVSUP FLC family.”
By Carole Stringfield, Public Affairs Specialist, NAVSUP FLC Bahrain