By Tech. Sgt. Kali L. Gradishar, 460th Space Wing Public Affairs
/ Published September 17, 2013
BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Nearly one year after the deactivation of the Marine Air Control Squadron 23 and the activation of Combat Logistics Battalion 453, the unit has reached a final stage in the reorganization under U.S. Marine Forces Reserve to mirror active-duty counterpart units.
This adjustment has presented a few challenges for the unit based out of Buckley Air Force Base, Colo., but it's nothing the CLB 453 Marines and Sailors can't handle.
First, the battalion is mostly composed of Marine Forces Reserve members, or MARFORRES. These Marines are only activated once a month. To overcome this challenge an active-duty component called inspector-instructors, or I&I, manages daily operations to ensure the unit accomplishes goals and addresses issues in the battalion.
The I&I team has been instrumental in creating a smooth transition from MACS 23 to CLB 453, a move that also ensures enhanced support to active-duty forces.
"The Marine Corps reorganized from functional logistics battalions ... into multifunctional combat logistics battalions, which is how the active force is now organized. So to mirror the active force, the reserve force reorganized, and we are in the midst of that right now," said Lt. Col. Mark Zipsie, I&I to Lt. Col. Derrick Young, CLB 453 commander.
While the reorganization officially occurred Sept. 16, 2012, it took time for the unit to rearrange its structure from air to ground support. Another challenge has been to ensure the appropriate equipment and trained Marines were made available to complete the transition.
"We've cross-trained our personnel from understanding the wing-side responsibilities to what a logistics battalion's responsibilities are. We've been able to fine tune and get the right personnel in the right positions moving forward," said Sgt. Maj. Pam Talluto, I&I to Sgt. Maj. Dan Clark, CLB 453 sergeant major.
Lance Cpl. Nathan Dimitrie, formerly a MACS 23 air control electronics operator, is one Marine who changed directions to fill a needed position in the battalion. Now a battalion warehouse clerk, Dimitrie is responsible for receiving, inventorying and verifying equipment is where it needs to be.
A lot of procedures have changed as the unit's mission has changed, said Dimitrie. And retraining was necessary for some Marines to "change to meet the unit needs at the time."
The battalion meets an additional challenge as its subordinate units - companies and detachments - are spread across 12 different sites in seven different states and comprise 1,400 Marines and Sailors. The Buckley Marines and Sailors of CLB 453 will support the companies and detachments throughout the battalion, as well as the reservists who activate once a month.
"It's a completely different structure for us. Our regular duties are going to be a little more challenging because our sites are dispersed all over the United States," Talluto said. "There's a high demand to make sure we have good communication, set the tone, and go out there as much as we can to visit these sites.
"I'm confident with the caliber of leadership and staff that we have at those sites, we're going to have a positive transition," the sergeant major added. "It'll make it a lot easier because we have capable leaders that really care (and) are really engaged in making sure the mission gets accomplished."
Zipsie agreed that the distance between battalion headquarters and subordinate companies and detachments would be a challenge - though, a challenge that could be overcome.
"The more you spread out, the more simple things have to be," said Zipsie. It's important to make sure the companies and detachments "can operate and make independent decisions based on what they know is our overall purpose without us micromanaging."
In order to be a successful unit, the command staff has focused on training basics. The battalion trains to deploy in support of active Marine Air Ground Task Forces, and the mission is to provide logistics for supply, maintenance, motor transport and potential engineer support. However, they also train to be Marines first.
"Because we're brand new, we continue to focus on being brilliant in basics. To be able to shoot, move and communicate as a unit, you have to be able to shoot move and communicate as a basic rifleman. And if you can do all those things well," said Zipsie, "you'll be able to employ those occupational specialties in support of the Marines and Sailors you support. But if you can't do those things well, then you're going to be useless to everybody.
"We want to make sure (CLB 453 is) operationally superior and ready to deploy," Zipsie said. "Everything I do every day is to make (this unit) successful. Our success is their success."
Talluto agreed that success is not only imperative, but also imminent.
"It's great to be a part of a historical moment because it's a huge change for the Marine Corps, and we have a good caliber of staff at every site to make sure this is a success," said Talluto. "With good leadership, good communication, and the right focus, I think we're going to be a successful.
"Everybody's motivated. They're ready to do this and make it work, and we'll go from there," she said. "It's a historical moment for all of us."