News: DLA and Army Reservists work together to keep military missions on track
Story by Sgt. David Turner
FORT A.P. HILL, Va. - Early on a Monday morning at Ft. A.P. Hill, Virginia, dozens of fuel tankers are lined up on the tarmac lot, their crews making last-minute checks. Their equipment is laid out neatly in rows, ready for inspection. A pair of representatives from the Defense Logistics Agency goes down the lines, giving each truck a thorough inspection. Afterward, each vehicle is labeled with a sticker, either “pass” or “fail.” Not every vehicle meets the standard first time around.
The DLA moves all the fuel to meet the military’s needs on a daily basis, but once a year, during the Quartermaster Liquid Logistics Exercise, Army Reserve Soldiers take over some of those missions, working with their counterparts in the DLA and other branches of the military. During the first three weeks of June, Soldiers participating in QLLEX 2014 will transport more than three million gallons of petroleum to installations across the country. For Reservists, it’s an opportunity to not only keep their job skills sharp, but to perform a real-world mission, one that requires meeting strict standards for safety and quality.
It’s a mission that Army Reserve fuel specialists look forward to every year, and one they work hard to prepare for, said Sgt. 1st Class George Pogel, a platoon sergeant with the 277th Quartermaster Company, based in Niagara Falls, N.Y. Members of his unit spent the past three months getting ready for this exercise, checking their vehicles and making sure they had the necessary equipment to perform their mission. Getting a thumbs up from the DLA reps is a critical step in that process.
“There are things we have to learn along the way, because they know more about this than I do," said Pogel, a 33-year veteran quartermaster who has spent most of his career handling and transporting fuel.
“They do it daily, but as Reservists, we do it once a year,” said Pogel.
Even though his vehicles get a thorough inspection before QLLEX, Pogel said the DLA inspections are an important step in training as well as performing his mission.
“Our biggest concern is environmental, because we don’t want to spill any fuel,” he said.
Only after meeting all the standards do the trucks get their “pass” sticker.
Most of the failures are for residues left behind from cleaning out the fuel tanks, said Trent Buck, a DLA quality assurance representative. All of these tankers will be carrying jet fuel, he said, and will have to be tested after it is delivered.
“We don’t want anything that’s going to throw the fuel off specification,” said Buck.
Fuel quality, said Buck, goes hand-in-hand with safety. At the very least, he said, he and his team have to protect their bottom line, because if the fuel they deliver isn’t clean, it can’t be used. But more important is safety.
“If a plane comes down, that’s a worst-case scenario,” said Buck. “It needs to be on specification when it gets to the end customer.”