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Kyrgyzstan Review, 10 years ago

[06.11.2OO2] Fueling the Forces for Operation Enduring Freedom

Defense Energy Support Center- Middle East (DESC-ME) based in Bahrain, is the Defense Logistics Agency's regional fuel support office in the Middle East. DESC-ME is commanded by Lt. Col. Ralph Wells and routinely manned with 10 people. It is tasked to support all Department of Defense fuel operations within the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility, which is comprised of 25 nations, stretching from Kazakhstan in the north, down through the Arabian Peninsula, and as far south as Kenya.
Normal daily operations supporting U.S. Army, U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force, U.S. Marines, and U.S. Coast Guard involve the quality surveillance of fuel including uploading and offloading tankers and the continual coordination of support between the host nation contractors and Central Command component forces.
The September 11, 2001 attacks and the ensuing response by the United States served to intensify an already high operations tempo. At the time of the attack, DESC-ME personnel were positioned throughout the Central Command area of responsibility and were acutely aware that the largest challenges to support the upcoming Operation Enduring Freedom existed in remote locations where lines of communication (supply channels) were not yet established.
During the early stages of Operation Enduring Freedom, DESC-ME blazed new territory to support the war fighter. Challenges included finding quality sources of supply, implementing reliable ground resupply, coordinating distribution, providing "on the ground" assistance to the customer by setting up fuel receiving points and providing quality assurance and surveillance throughout the entire supply chain.
In those early days, the Middle East Center's Terry Russell, a quality assurance specialist and Jeffrey Feltner, a quality manager, relied on training obtained in their prior careers as Air Force fuel personnel and were directly responsible for the successful refueling of aircraft arriving at Shaikh Isa Air Base in Bahrain. Soon after September 11, 2001, Russell was recalled from Egypt, where he was managing fuel support for Exercise Bright Star. He was tasked with refueling incoming C-5 aircraft for the Air Force at Shaikh Isa Air Base.
He promptly accepted five R-9 Air Force refuelers from war reserve storage in Bahrain and proceeded to inspect, fill, and test refueling units to ensure they were capable of issuing on-specification fuel to the first arriving aircraft.
As aircraft began to arrive, and still without any military fuel personnel on the ground, Russell enlisted the help of Feltner to refuel each of the first four arriving C-5 aircraft. Shannon Wigginton, a quality assurance representative from DESC-Americas, provided additional assistance by filling and shuttling refuelers between the fuel storage area and the flight line to expedite aircraft servicing operations.
For long-term sustainment of U.S. Forces in remote locations in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the fuel suppliers implemented a ground resupply operation. Enormous coordination was required to implement contracts and involved several key individuals at DESC Headquarters, including Army Col. Jack Vance, who became a focal point for meeting fuel support requirements for Central Command.
The operations center monitored and coordinated the constantly changing service requirements and ensured contracting personnel initiated the required contracts. Defense Contract Management Agency provided personnel support in Pakistan to oversee terminal operations.
Since customers and suppliers did not communicate with each other directly, DESC-ME's intimate knowledge of the area of responsibility, established working relationships, and close proximity to suppliers all became critically important to a successful resupply operation. Navy Lt. Cmdr. Ted Kozlow, an activated reservist, functioned as the liaison, ensuring the right amount of fuel was delivered at the right time. Kozlow worked diligently to resolve various issues customers faced, ranging from the simple task of providing matching hose couplings to the immensely complex issue of coordinating fuel requirements for Operation Anaconda.
Army Sgt. 1st Class Clay Allen, a DCMA quality inspector temporarily reassigned to the Middle East Center, conducted quality inspections and coordinated orders at a terminal in Pakistan. The terminal eventually became the sole source of supply for jet fuel to air bases in Pakistan and Afghanistan. The availability of fuel delivery trucks to meet the increasing demand continued to be a major challenge.
DESC-ME continued to face numerous supply and transportation challenges as the resupply operation into Afghanistan progressed. Efforts to supply fuel to forces were frequently hampered by unexpected obstacles that challenged even the most experienced logisticians. Long travel distances, difficult terrain, and incidents of harassment, extortion, truck hijackings and even rocket attacks made fuel supply a tough business. The resolve to support the war fighter overcame these obstacles and enabled support without a single interruption.
Quality control of fuel for the area continues to be a major challenge. Quality assurance personnel are involved every time fuel moves or is transported through any type of conveyance (i.e. tanker, truck, pipeline). Contamination, which causes fuel to fail to meet required specifications, often stems from using older, infrequently used equipment, which is common in many areas.
Since OEF began, DESC-ME has been directly involved in the receipt of millions of barrels of fuel. This effort has supported forward locations in Afghanistan and Pakistan with aviation fuel, fuel additives, ground products, and special fuels; provided daily support for U.S. land-based forces and U.S. Navy and coalition vessels, and re-supplied defense fuel support points.
Another important member of the Middle East team is Bruce Jones, the Center's manager.
In addition to ordering fuel for the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility Jones is often called upon to resolve payment issues and verify receipt quantities and invoices. Acting as an intermediary for stateside administrative contracting officials, Jones recently completed coordination and payment for trucking operations of U.S. government-owned fuel stocks which helped facilitate the establishment of procedures enabling contractors to receive electronic payment.
The "Stans" which include Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan -- all former republics of the Soviet Union -- are another area of responsibility for DESC-ME. Just gaining permission to meet with appropriate officials can be a time consuming challenge in these locales. In almost all cases, doing business with host nation officials involves arranging for interpreter support. It is all part of the business of providing fuel support to the war fighter.
Rail cars continue to be used in many locations in the Stans. Fuel is offloaded directly from rail cars into tank trucks using in-line, Russian built, truck mounted pumps.
Seeing fuel delivered in these remote locations provides a great appreciation for the cradle to grave fuel support U.S. military forces are receiving under extremely austere and difficult conditions. The Middle East Center's success can be attributed to strong, productive relationships with customers and suppliers, and a lot of hard work.
The Defense Logistics Agency provides supply support, and technical and logistics services to the military services and to several civilian agencies. Headquartered at Fort Belvoir, Va., DLA is the one source for nearly every consumable item, whether for combat readiness, emergency preparedness or day- to-day operations.
PRNewswire, November 6, 2002

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