Army Reserve Soldiers are giving Defense Logistics Agency civilian contractors a break throughout the U.S. from San Pedro, Calif., to Fort Bragg, N.C., and points in between.
More than 370 Army Reserve Soldiers from quartermaster and transportation units from six different states are conducting their annual training here in conjunction with other sites across the country through Friday. They are honing their skills in their military occupational specialties by conducting what is called the Army Reserve Quartermaster Liquid Logistics Exercise, or QLLEX. Soldiers from these units are performing a real-world mission of storing and transporting fuel to various military installations, something the DLA normally does on a regular basis.
â€œThis is exactly how they would perform deployed to a theater of operation,â€ said Lt. Col. Lawrence Leon, 418th Quartermaster Battalion and QLLEX commander, out of Marana. â€œThis is the only time that these Soldiers actually touch, test and work with real petroleum products while training.â€
The Soldiers set up a fuel system supply point, or bag farm, to store fuel to be distributed to various locations. But before the fuel goes anywhere, it must be tested by a petroleum quality assurance team to ensure there are no contaminates.
â€œYouâ€™re touching aviation quality fuel. If an incident occurs, the first thing they look at is the fuel. It is very critical,â€ said Leon. â€œThose guys really have to be on top of their game, and they have been.â€
Spc. Dominic Martinez, a petroleum specialist with the 877th Quartermaster Company out of Albuquerque, N.M., checks the fluids of a fuel pump during the U.S. Army Reserve 2012 Quartermaster Liquid Logistics Exercise at Fort Huachuca, Ariz., on Monday.
Once the testing is complete with optimal results, the fuel is then transported to local military installations in the area, which in Arizona includes Libby Army Airfield, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport, and Tucson International Airport, all of which sustain military aircraft.
â€œWhatâ€™s always been unique with this one here in Arizona is weâ€™re doing joint training,â€ Leon said. â€œWeâ€™re working with the Air Force, the Air National Guard and Army National Guard.â€
According to Leon, the Fort Huachuca QLLEX site was the first to be operational and the first lab to be certified and operational, having already completed 13 tests, the most of any QLLEX location in the country.
â€œThe way I referred to this with all of the Soldiers, I said, â€˜Your AT is your Super Bowl,â€™ Leon said. â€œPlan your Super Bowl and then backward plan everything based on that because this is where you make your mark. This is your Super Bowl.â€
According to 1st Lt. Amanda Wielgus, operations officer, 418th Quartermaster Battalion, approximately 400,000 gallons of fuel have been delivered so far at the Fort Huachuca site.
â€œThis exercise is very important to the Army Reserve and the petroleum operations that the Army Reserve has,â€ Wielgus said. â€œThey only get to do this once a year. This is their opportunity to learn.â€
While the Soldiers have achieved success in all of their missions, the top mission priority for the Soldiers has been safety. According to Sgt. 1st Class Scottie Bogenrief, petroleum operations sergeant, 418th Quartermaster Battalion, all executed missions have been incident free.
â€œWe have a great safety team. In the end safety is the commanderâ€™s first thing,â€ Bogenrief said. â€œAll together itâ€™s been a very successful exercise.â€
But the battalion and exercise commander wouldnâ€™t take the claim for the distinction.
â€œThis is something I cannot take credit for. All you can do is hope you have the positive influence. Over 30,000 safe miles and all petroleum product has been safely delivered on time and on grade,â€ Leon said. â€œI couldnâ€™t be more pleased and happy. Iâ€™m very confident in every one of these Soldiers, and Iâ€™ll go to war with them any day.â€
The Soldiers in the exercise agreed that the training they are receiving is top-notch and is realistic. They said that the different units involved work closely and have a smooth battle rhythm.
â€œI think itâ€™s all come together rather well. Weâ€™ve all bonded really well together and enjoyed the experience out here,â€ said Staff Sgt. William Higerd, platoon sergeant, 425th Transportation Company, Salina, Kan. â€œOverall, Iâ€™m pleased to see the way things have come together.â€
And the Soldiers admit that they are on a constant learning curve.
â€œIf you get comfortable in a training setting, and you were to get deployed, you get to know your system and feel comfortable with it,â€ said Spc. Clayton Megariz, petroleum specialist, 877th Quartermaster Company, Albuquerque, N.M. â€œIâ€™ve learned to adapt to different situations. Iâ€™ve learned quite a bit out here.â€