News: Barstow Marines prepare for inspection headed by commanding general
Story by Cpl. Thomas Bricker
MCLB BARSTOW, Calif. — Despite its differences from a “conventional” Marine Corps base, Marine Corps Logistics Base Barstow still adheres to strict policies and regulations and is inspected regularly for assurance. In the near future, MCLB Barstow can expect to stand-by for inspection by higher.
This is what is known as a commanding general’s inspection, in which the Marines’ basic fundamentals will be reviewed to ensure the unit’s combat readiness is up-to-par and is keeping within the standards of the Marine Corps. The CGI assesses several areas within a Marine unit, ranging from individual uniform inspections, gauging a Marine’s appearance in a given uniform, to close-order drill and basic Marine Corps knowledge.
“When we’re inspected as a unit, we’re looked at for numerous things; we have uniform inspections in several different uniforms to make sure we still have that sharp and professional look the Marine Corps is known for. They also look at things like inventory of the unit’s gear to ensure their being accountable for everything so assets aren’t lost,” explained Master Sgt. Matt Blais, base operations chief at MCLB Barstow.
“They look at us from head to toe. It’s almost like a very large-scale uniform inspection, where the inspectors look the unit over to make sure we are maintaining standards set by the commandant of the Marine Corps,” he added.
MCLB Barstow isn’t the only base expected to stand an inspection by its commanding general, although it does have items specific to its own inspection that are not necessarily covered at other bases.
“All Marine Corps units go through a CGI every other year,” said Master Sgt. Frank Omarah, MCLB Barstow’s base inspector. “We have a few checklists [for the inspection] other units wouldn’t use like labor-employer relations, family housing and traffic management,” he added.
This is because Barstow is inspected at a base-level, that includes civilians, and not a smaller unit consisting strictly of all Marines, he explained. To prepare for the CGI, many Marines have to refamiliarize themselves with things they may not have had to do in some time, such as wear certain uniforms or practice close-order drill. The inspectors make sure these aspects of the Marine Corps aren’t forgotten.
Marines learn close-order drill while in recruit training but may not get to practice much as a unit afterward. With the CGI, Marines are kept on their toes to ensure complacency doesn’t set in.
“Close-order drill is important for many reasons,” explained Master Sgt. Lorenzo Lacy, Chief of base supply. “It all falls back on the basic fundamentals of the matter.”
The basics of drill include positioning and movements of Marine units, instilling discipline in Marines standing in formation and confidence for non-commissioned and commissioned officers and an opportunity for Marines to handle weapons. The importance of drill is stressed through these fundamentals. Those who’ve instructed drill attest to this.
“I think it’s important the young NCOs practice drill. It helps them become comfortable with themselves and commanding junior Marines,” said Lacy, a former drill instructor.
“Through practice, they continue to get better until they’re looking like the drill units that set us apart from other military services. It’s this precision and expertise that people know us by,” the Las Vegas, Nev., native added.
The CGI lets units know what they excel at and what they need to work on and perhaps improve, to better the unit as a whole.
“If a unit is found to have discrepancies, they can often be corrected on the spot. Others may need to be worked on over the course of a certain amount of time,” Blais said.
In the past, MCLB Barstow has exceeded expectations set forth by its commanding generals.
“During [the 2010 CGI,] from Marine Corps Installations West, MCLB Barstow was awarded 39 certificates of commendation,” said Omarah. “Currently we have 87 checklists we’re required to maintain a high state of readiness for.” Forty-five percent of checklists receiving noteworthy remarks is unheard of, Omarah explained.
Overall, many Marines find these inspections to be nerve-racking and time-consuming but necessary.
“I think they’re a great idea. Say, if I carried myself a certain way every day of the week incorrectly but I thought it was the right way, I’d like to have someone tell me what my faults are. I don’t want to be in the wrong,” said Blais. “There’s nothing wrong with an inspection. It’s what helps us better ourselves,” he concluded.