Orlando, Fla. --
Exercise Support Division (ESD), Marine Corps Air Ground Task Force Training Command, Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, Twenty-nine Palms, Calif., received the Secretary of Defense Field-Level Maintenance Award for FY21 during a ceremony held at the Department of Defense Maintenance Symposium in Orlando, Fla., Dec. 13.
Each year the Secretary of Defense Maintenance Awards are presented to recognize the best maintenance units within the Department of Defense. The awards are presented in four categories, Software Maintenance Excellence, Sustainment Training, Advice, and Assistance of Foreign Military Forces, Depot Maintenance Excellence, and Field-Level Awards.
Field-level awards are broken down by the size of the unit into three sub-categories, small, medium and large, with ESD receiving the small-unit Field-level.
Lt. Col. Catalina E. Kesler, officer in Charge, ESD, said that recognition for the award is shared by the entire team saying, “the Marines and Civilian-Marines of the ESD consistently work long hours to ensure mission accomplishment.
“Receiving a service level award is significant and really, this team has been deserving of recognition for the tireless work they do for a very long time,” added Kesler.
ESD provides designated logistical support to exercise forces including; limited life support while at Camp Wilson, accountability, maintenance, issuing and receiving of military equipment and supplies, and military equipment maintenance support to MAGTF Training Command Organizations as required.
During the awards period ESD supported five Service Level Training Exercises (SLTE), five Infantry Office Course and Amphibious Assault Officer exercises and two School of Infantry-West Infantry Marine Courses.
ESD’s superlative level of maintenance enabled over 45,000 Fleet Marine Force, Marine Forces Reserve, and other U.S. and multinational forces to conduct training while at MCAGCC Twenty-nine Palms, Calif.
Maj. Miguel S. Garcia, operations officer, ESD credited the workforce for much of the success. “One of our key strengths is our mix of Marines and civilian-Marines. Many of our civilians are former Marines that bring decades of experience with them,” said Garcia.
“With their level of experience, some can hear a piece of equipment and know what is wrong, what needs to be fixed,” added Garcia.
In addition to the exercises supported, the award recognizes ESD for several extraordinary accomplishments during FY21. Notable items from the citation include several successful enterprise wide maintenance initiatives, a stellar safety program, and a history of innovation.
Kesler said that among the many great examples of innovation throughout the division, work by the additive manufacturing shop stands out. “The machine shop falls under ordinance, but they support all the maintenance sections. Just one example, is that they created a tool to facilitate bearing replacements in HUMVEEs that saved $1800 per vehicle,” explained Kesler.
One source of pride is an enterprise wide maintenance initiative that ESD planned and implemented to test the Marine Corps’ Condition Based Maintenance Plus Minimum Viable Product. Kesler summarized the outcome saying, “this initiative provided early warning of faulty fuel injection O-rings and saved $400,000 in repair costs.”
Garcia talked about ESD’s unique mission and how completing it requires innovation and flexibility. “ESD issues thousands of pieces of equipment before an exercise, and take it all back at the completion. Then, with a short turn around, in some cases as few as 20 work days, fix the equipment and re-issue to the next unit,” exclaimed Garcia.
Reflecting on the award, Kesler said, “what makes ESD unique is our mission, our Marine and civilian-Marine workforce that combines experience and creativity, and the high level of morale throughout the unit.”
“We are grateful to be able to bring out a sizeable cross section of the team to take part in the awards, said Garcia. “It is important for the Marines and our civilians to be here, to meet the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Sustainment, and to be here for the recognition.”