MARINE CORPS LOGISTICS BASE BARSTOW, Calif. - The Yermo Annex of Marine Corps Logistics Base Barstow, Calif., is responsible for not only repairing, maintaining, and ensuring the quality of thousands of military vehicles, but for painting them in a manner consistent with keeping service members in forward deployed environments safe.
The Cost Work Center 749 (Paint Shop) on MCLB Barstow proficiently trains their employees to paint these vehicles using a top-of-the-line program. It is the Iowa Waste Reduction Center’s Spray Technique and Research for Defense program (STAR4D). The program makes certain that waste and negative impacts on the environment are kept at a minimum.
The Spray Technique and Research program started in 1994, and was aimed at small businesses and community colleges. It focused on raising awareness about the impact spray painting has on the environment. The program incorporates curriculum and a virtual laser paint program to educate trainees, according to its website, STAR4defense.org.
In 2003, the STAR program partnered with the Defense Logistics Agency to improve painting techniques for the Department of Defense; thus creating STAR4D, a program designed to meet the military’s painting needs.
“We originally sent our painters to Iowa once a year to become STAR4D certified,” said Michael Jackson, the painter supervisor here and a certified STAR4D instructor. “It was becoming costly to send them (painters) to Iowa every year, so we ended up buying the (curriculum and training tools) program to evaluate and train our painters on base.”
Not only does having the STAR4D program here save the base money, but the training in itself saves the base waste costs while protecting the environment.
“We are going on our fourth year of using STAR4D. Since then, our cost in waste has gone way down,” explained Jackson, who has been working with the paint shop here for more than 10 years.
The program is a three-day certification process. Painters need to pass both a written test and a virtual painting test in order to become certified, explained Jackson.
“The virtual portion is a great way to evaluate a painter’s skill,” he added. “It makes it easy to find flaws in a painter’s technique that could be causing wasted paint; this allows us to fix those flaws.”
The program informs the painter whether or not they’re using the right amount of coating, if they’re overlapping, if they’re the appropriate distance from the vehicle, and calculates how much paint they would be wasting if it were actual paint, explained Jackson.
“It’s a great program for training new painters and introducing them to the vehicles,” said Teresa Fuerte, a painter here.
With painters working around the clock painting thousands of vehicles to meet the needs of the military, effective and efficient painting is a must.
Employees are painting seven days a week, 365 days a year. Between 45 painters and two shifts, painters are here from 6 a.m. until 1:30 a.m., explained Jackson.
“Every single part of every single vehicle (on MCLB’s Yermo Annex) comes through the shop,” he added.
The almost constant painting means a lot of possible waste. This is why the program is so beneficial, not only financially, but also for the environment.
With lives depending on these vehicles, slowing down or wasting time isn’t an option.
Painters are trained to use the Chemical Agent Resistance Coating, a polyurethane paint that not only prevents corroding but also provides stealth from infrared detection for service members in the vehicles, and provides protection from biological toxins, explained Jackson.
“CARC and camouflage painting are crucial for service members to stay undetected in combat,” he added.
“CARC is also very expensive, around $400 a case,” Jackson said.
That being said, proper training is a must in order to save the government thousands of dollars in unnecessary waste.
“Nothing can compare to the real thing, but it’s a great, cost-efficient way to introduce novice painters,” said Fuerte.
Painters here provide the military with life-saving vehicles and the ability to remain undetected when it matters most.
STAR4D provides the training these skilled painters need to get the mission done safely and accurately with no impact on the environment, and without spending a dime on paint, Jackson concluded.