New Marine battalion lead by MCLBB returnee
Story by Keith Hayes on 08/08/2019
Lieutenant Colonel Micheal R. Graham officially took command of the 1st Force Storage Battalion in a ceremony at the site of the former Fleet Support Division aboard the Yermo Annex of Marine Corps Logistics Base Barstow, California, June 26.
1st FSB executes Marine Force Storage Command’s mission to provide storage, stock readiness, and maintenance management of Marine Corps ground equipment and associated collateral materiel held in assigned inventory at MCLB Barstow, the new battalion commander explained.
If Graham’s name seems familiar, it’s because he was the former director of Fleet Support Division with the rank of major at the same location in Warehouse 406 from May 2010 to June 2013. “I was the last major to fill the position at FSD,” Graham explained. “When the Marine Depot Maintenance Command went to the one depot two locations mode (MCLB Barstow and MCLB Albany, Georgia) and there was no longer a colonel at MDMC; Headquarters Marine Corps determined the FSD slot needed to be filled by a lieutenant colonel from then on.”
Graham describes the advantages of making FSD into the military command of the 1st FSB.
“There are a couple of the key benefits to making this a command rather than a directorship. One is it makes the approving authority (control of the budget) of my position greater,” he said. “Another is that it gives us more accountability and oversight over the military equipment we store and maintain to ensure it’s ready when the Corps needs it.”
Graham pointed out that before becoming a military command, the former FSD had little control over its accounts and its director had to submit any significant monetary adjustments that had to be made to the Logistics Command commanding general for a signature.
The Marine Force Storage Command was activated in April 2019, with the 1st and 2nd Force Storage Battalions under its direct control. The activation of MFSC and 1st FSB also increases the logistics significance of MCLB Barstow and the base’s importance to the Marine Corps.
“The authorities tied to being a command rather than division are a little bit different as well,” Graham continued. “The administrative authorities, rewarding authorities, and punitive authorities also change, number one because of the rank and also because it’s now a slated military command.”
The various branches of the former FSD that were led by GS-12 civilians now become three military companies; support, supply, and maintenance; and some of the former branch heads become company commanders, the lieutenant colonel said.
“Martin Durette went from a GS-12 to a 13, Vince Boaz went from a 12 to a 13, Neil Pinchefsky stays a 13, but he goes from the deputy director of FSD to company commander of the Supply Company, which he has vast experience in,” Graham said.
“The position of deputy director is going to be filled by Anthony Almeida, a retired Army lieutenant colonel who spent 30 years in the service,” he said. “He’s going to be installed July 22nd.”
The three company commanders will also be writing the fitness reports for those personnel under their command rather than being the director’s responsibility as it was when the command was FSD, Graham said.
Military tradition, customs and courtesies will be part of the new command.
“The 1st FSB has its own colors and guidon,” the battalion commander said. “Any honors earned by FSD in the past will become battle streamers that can be added to 1st FSB colors, so that’s something that wasn’t there before when it was a division as opposed to a military command.”
“The signs out front that say Logistics Command are going to change to 1st Force Storage Battalion, and members of the 1st FSB will also participate in designing a challenge coin for the command,” Graham added.
“Whatever position I’ve taken in the Marine Corps, my personal philosophy is to make it better. It’ being the people, the area, the process, the building, everything. Just make it better. If at the end of the day you can say I made it better, then you have an accomplishment you can be happy with. If everybody does that then it’s going to be hard for that organization to fail,” he said.
Graham knows that changing the culture in an organization at any level is sometimes difficult.
“However, I am extremely confident with the people I’ve talked to and in the enthusiasm that the Barstow people have shown. With what they bring to the table, that change will happen. Yes, I’m sure there’s going to be some bumps in the road, but I’m really happy with their attitude towards it right now,” he said.