What is MIL-SPEC Packaging? Your Complete Guide to Military Packaging Specifications

Safeguards exist for all shipments made throughout the United States. Our military incorporates its own set of standards for military packaging, commonly known as MIL-SPEC packaging, to guarantee safety and discretion when needed.

Greenwood Aerospace is your leader in government procurement, aircraft and parts storage and distribution, and military and defense contracting. We offer everything you need to know about military packaging, including:

  • History of military packaging’s progression from WWII to today
  • Current logistics of military packaging
  • What Greenwood Aerospace offers for military packaging 
  • Looking ahead to the future of military packaging

Discover everything you need to know about MIL-SPEC packaging and all the services we offer for military and defense contracting. You can also contact us here, or email us at sales@governmentprocurement.com for more information.

Continue on to learn everything you need about MIL-SPEC in our complete guide to military packaging specifications. 

A Brief History of Military Packaging 

Military Specification, or MIL-SPEC, as we know it today dates back to World War II. During the war, the U.S. and its allied nations discovered much of the equipment they used was not interchangeable. Equipment shipments for one nation would do little to help an allied country, even if the U.K. or Soviet Union was in greater need at the time. Thus, MIL-SPEC was implemented to gain tactical advantage between allies during wartime. 

Military packaging fell under the purview of MIL-SPEC after WWII, especially during the Korean War and Persian Gulf War. Commercial and private shipping containers could not withstand the long distances or extreme climates, often impairing or ruining the materiel inside. After the Persian Gulf War, the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) convened with military and government agents to rectify these issues, and military packaging specifications were formally established.

Military Packaging Today

Current military packaging specifications are outlined by standard practice MIL-STD-2073-1 (MIL-STD, or Military Standard, serving as official code for MIL-SPEC). MIL-STD-2073-1 oversees all packages for military use meet specific prerequisites before entering the military distribution cycle.

The three requisites outlined by MIL-STD-2073-1 prior to shipment are:

  • Military packaging 
  • Military preservation
  • Military materiel packing

All military packaging and distribution must meet regulations set forth by MIL-STD-2073-1 unless they are intended for immediate use or are non-mission capable.

Military Packaging per MIL-STD-2073-1

Military packaging is defined per the U.S. Department of Defense as, “A means of specifying the military preservation and packing that a given item requires to ensure that it is not degraded during shipment and storage.”

Military packaging per MIL-STD-2073-1 primarily refers to labeling, ensuring that all military packaging boxes are clearly marked for intended use and safety precautions.

Military Preservation per MIL-STD-2073-1

Military preservation per MIL-STD-2073-1 outlines the processes for packing materiel to be protected during shipment. 

Methods of proper military packaging preservation are:

  • Waterproofing
  • Water vapor proofing 
  • Water vapor proofing with desiccant
  • Physical protection
  • Preservation coating

Measures to ensure these five methods are correctly enacted include: 

  • Cleaning
  • Cushioning
  • Drying
  • Properly identifying
  • Individually packing
  • Wrapping

Military Packing per MIL-STD-2073-1

A combination of military packaging and military preservation, military packing per MIL-STD-2073-1 pertains to the steps taken to guarantee materiel is safe, preserved, secure, and correctly identified for distribution.

The military uses two levels to indicate the expected conditions a package or container might face during shipment. These levels are:

  • Level A Military Packing: indicates the likelihood military packaging will encounter inclement or extreme weather, handling, and/or storage conditions
  • Level B Military Packing: indicates military packaging will encounter moderate or low-level shipping conditions, most often used for domestic or short-range military shipping

The steps needed to meet military packing standards differ in detail, but the steps are similar. These steps are:

  • Choosing the proper package or container
  • Assembling items in the interior of the package or container
  • Blocking, cushioning, bracing, and/or wrapping items inside the package or container
  • Preparing the package or container per military preservation standards
  • Strapping the package or container for safe shipping
  • Marking the package or container with proper identification

When Standards of MIL-STD-2073-1 are Required

Military packaging shipments that are for immediate use or are non-mission capable are permitted to be shipped commercially. If your shipment falls under any of the following categories, it is required to follow MIL-STD-2073-1 regulations:

  • Containing recyclable parts
  • Delivered during wartime
  • Entering military distribution cycle
  • Expected to be delivered at sea
  • Requiring long-term storage

Common Codes for Military Packaging

MIL-STD-2073-1 encompasses many of the standard regulations set forth by MIL-SPEC packaging. The military also codifies regulations for specific military shipping containers, requirements, and purposes as outlined in the table below.

What Greenwood Aerospace Offers for Military Packaging

Seeking an expert team to service your military packaging needs? We here at Greenwood Aerospace have over forty years’ experience in government procurement, contracting, logistics, and storage and distribution. Our services include:

We partner with all branches of the U.S. military to support national security and assist our troops in every way we can. This extends to military packaging.

We provide extensive service for your military packaging needs, such as:

  • Proper crating, containment, and shipping of all materiel
  • Proper labeling for all shipments
  • Full compliance with MIL-SPEC packaging codes
A single aisle view of a vast warehouse storing floor-to-ceiling containers, as an employee travels toward the viewer on forklift transporting a package.
Greenwood Aerospace fulfills your military packaging needs.

Military Packaging Crates and Containers

Military packaging shipments are much like aircraft parts distribution: your need may be for parts kits or for large ground equipment. We provide the proper packaging for all size shipments, including:

  • Exterior containers
  • Intermediate containers
  • Unit containers
  • Custom crating

If your shipment requires packaging or containment that exceeds standard military container sizes, our team of professionals provides custom crating to guarantee your packages meet MIL-SPEC requirements without causing unnecessary delays.

Military Packaging Labeling

Military packaging is a key component to operating within MIL-SPEC standards. Proper labeling of your shipments is just as important. 

Greenwood Aerospace offers the proper military shipping labels, or MSLs, in accordance with MIL-STD-129. We ensure your military packaging is processed quickly and correctly through proper labeling. Our labels include: 

  • Unit Container Label (UCL): small containers that ship separate from exterior shipping containers
  • Intermediate Container Label (ICL): moderate-sized shipping containers that ship separate from exterior shipping containers
  • Exterior Container Label (ECL): large shipping containers often used to house unit or intermediate containers
  • Hazardous Material (HAZMAT) Label: all classes of hazardous materials are labeled properly and clearly, from explosives to oxidizing substances

Compliance with MIL-SPEC Codes for Military Packaging

All of Greenwood Aerospace’s military packaging complies with MIL-SPEC packaging codes to guarantee on-time and safe delivery of your shipment. We work in compliance under the necessary agencies and regulations, including:

Military Packaging for the Future of Defense

Our team rigorously monitors and leverages supply chains, inventory, and decades of experience with military packaging to ensure your shipments are always correctly processed and on time. This entails projecting the future of military packaging as much as operating in the current climate. 

Three major influencers on the future of military packaging and shipping are:

  • Past lifting of restrictions on MIL-SPEC
  • Current supply chain and recession concerns
  • Current and future technologies, such as AI

Secretary of Defense Prohibits Most of MIL-SPEC

MIL-SPEC ballooned to over 30,000 regulations by the 1990s. Many contended these regulations had gotten out of control and were only serving to limit contractors and slow technological upgrades and implementation. 

Then Secretary of Defense William Perry issued a memorandum prohibiting defense regulations unless permission was granted from a government-appointed council. This resulted in the cancellation of many defense standards, easing contracts and lifting restrictions.

Current Supply Chain and Recession Concerns

Few industries escaped the supply chain disruptions of the past 2 years. The military supply chain experienced similar delays and low inventory, causing some branches of the military to turn to unique solutions.

Many believe further lifting of restrictions will be necessary to combat future supply chain disruptions, opening up even more avenues for defense contractors and military supply. 

AI and Military Packaging

AI is the topic in current conversations across almost all industries, and the military is no different. Artificial Intelligence is projected to make up over $13 billion of the market share for military and defense spending by 2028. How does that impact military packaging?

One of the largest industries predicted to be impacted by AI is shipping and transportation. If AI can rapidly monitor needs and supply chains, report logistics to command, and limit exposure of soldiers to risk, it will become a primary tool in defense shipping and military packaging. 

And before you suggest it is a long way off, programs are already implementing AI in the military, such as: 

We here at Greenwood Aerospace review and keep you up-to-date on all the news, trends, and initiatives to provide you the best service for your military packaging needs. 

Join Greenwood Aerospace for Your Military Packaging Needs

Ready to partner with us for all your military packaging needs? Contact us now, and we will respond as rapidly as we ship. 

Interested in a short-term contract, or have other parts procurement needs? Request a quote or email us at sales@governmentprocurement.com, and one of our experienced representatives will get back to you shortly.

We look forward to working with you!