"We have developed a standard operating procedure to help Marines know what they need to do when they are turning in all their gear," said Bob Graham, eastern regional manager for the CIF. "It will make the check out procedure go faster, and Marines won't have to turn around and come back because they didn't know certain things they were supposed to do or bring in the first place."
The gear at the CIF is used by all major commands aboard Camp Lejeune, so upkeep is important.
"The gear must be cleaned before turning it into the CIF," Carroll explained. "The only thing about cleaning the gear is that Marines are taking the flak jackets apart and drying them in a dryer. The problem with that is that the outer shell will shrink so it's harder to get the SAPI (Small Arms Protective Inserts) plates back into them. If you wash it you have to let the outer shell air dry."
The CIF personnel take into account the weather factors and gear exchange that can occur in theatre during deployment.
"If a Marine turns in a piece of gear that's a different color or size than the one that was issued it isn't a problem," said Reggie Washington, line supervisor, II MEF CIF. "As long as the Marine doesn't turn in a different generation of gear then what they were issued, we will accept the gear. For example, someone can't turn in an old MARPAT (Marine Pattern) Gortex jacket when they were issued a new digital camouflage Gortex jacket. It's two different generations of gear."
Although some gear may be lost or destroyed while deployed overseas, filing paperwork for the items has become easier for commanders and troops.
"When units come back they usually do an inventory of what gear they have and what is damaged or missing. When a unit comes in to check out, they need to have a missing or damaged gear statement stamped certified or true copied by their commanding officer," Graham said. "They have to have the statement done within ninety days of return. Instead of having the CO sign thirty missing or damaged gear statements, the unit only has to make one letter which the CO signs and attach the other Marines statements along with it."
When Marines arrive at CIF to turn in gear, having the proper paperwork to check out is also necessary and helps smooth the checkout process.
"The biggest hold up for Marines is a check in or out sheet," Washington explained. "We have to make sure that we are giving Marines the right gear since different units require different issues. When a Marine is finished turning in their gear they have to get their paperwork signed and make sure their data is erased off the computer. If a Marine (permanent change of station) moves to Okinawa and shows up to check in at the CIF there and it still shows they have issued gear here, they can't check in. We run off the same database system so it will catch up to you."
Although the CIF tends to get really busy, the check in or out process for a large group can be an easier evolution if the unit schedules an appointment ahead of time.
"One of the biggest issues is units tending to show up all at one time without an appointment to turn in gear," said Marc Carroll, manager, II Marine Expeditionary Force CIF. "Since we didn't know that they were going to show up with a platoon of people, they have to wait around for their turn, and that depends on how many people were in line in front of them. If there is a group of twenty or more, the parent unit should call and set up an appointment so we know ahead of time and can get kits already set up so when they show up most of their gear will already be ready. We try to dedicate a group of workers to help assist when units are checking gear in or out so it goes faster."
To find out more information on CIF policies go to www.usmccif.com, or call (910) 451-4109 to set up a unit appointment.