Fueling Saber Strike

By Connie Braesch DLA Energy Public Affairs

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Defense Logistics Agency Energy provided fuel support to partner countries, NATO and U.S. forces throughout the multinational training exercise, Saber Strike 2018, held in the Baltic States and Poland, June 3-15.

Acquisition Cross Service Agreements provided reciprocal fuel support between partner nations, contracts were issued for the direct delivery of bulk fuel to the region, and DLA Energy Europe and Africa personnel were forward-deployed to ensure the warfighters had the support needed.

“DLA is the tip of the spear supplying the warfighters in world events,” said Navy Chief Petty Officer Frank Lewis, a Navy reservist who served as a DLA Energy petroleum specialist with the Joint Reserve Force Deployment’s Support Team during the exercise.

Lewis was one of many who were positioned around the region and readily available to support DLA Energy customers and suppliers. Christopher Rogers, a quality assurance representative for DLA Energy Europe and Africa, was also in Poland providing assistance.

“We ensure quality of the product that we’re providing to the customer and that the contractor’s performing properly,” Rogers said. “During Saber Strike, my tasking is to travel around to the different fuel sites and be there for support if there are any questions or concerns.”

In preparation for this U.S.-led multinational exercise, DLA Energy Europe and Africa Liaison to Headquarters United States Army Europe Mark Knapp said the USAE requested DLA Energy provide bulk fuel to support both the exercise and other ongoing operations in the region.

Of the several fuel pushes DLA Energy made in support of Saber Strike, Knapp said two deliveries of bulk fuel to the area were significant. The first DLA Energy direct bulk fuel delivery contract was to Drawsko Pomorskie Training Area, Poland.

“Eighty thousand gallons of bulk fuel was purchased from a Polish national petroleum supplier and transported more than 200 miles to the warfighter in PTA,” he said. “The Army’s 16th Sustainment Brigade downloaded it into tactical fuel system storage to redistribute to participating units and conduct retail operations.”

In the lead up to the exercise, the U.S. Military Sealift Command cargo ship, USNS SGT William R. Button (T-AK 3012), brought DLA Energy-owned fuel to the port of Klaipeda, Lithuania. The ship onloaded fuel in Jacksonville, Florida, and sailed into the Baltic Sea, docking at the port of Klaipeda in May.

“The pier-side fuel operation was truly a joint operation,” Knapp said. “One that had reportedly not occurred in Europe in many years.” 

The exchange of 40,000 gallons of DLA Energy-owned fuel from the Navy ship to the Army’s 16th Sustainment Brigade’s tactical bulk storage at the port and ultimately to the U.S. Marine Corps for operations was a smooth and collaborative process, he said.

Whether the fuel came from the host nation through a reciprocal agreement or directly from a DLA Energy-provided source, the goal was a successful exercise where the customers had everything they needed, when they needed it, Rogers said.

Lewis said DLA Energy deployments like Saber Strike are a great learning opportunity because it diversifies his experience.

“DLA allows you to move around the world and participate, not in just Navy-specific missions, but in joint-command missions, which is a very valuable experience,” he said.

DLA not only provides fuel support but also critical supplies like food, repair parts and other logistical needs. Almost 60 employees and service members representing DLA and its major subordinate commands like DLA Energy, DLA Distribution and DLA Disposition Services were deployed to set the stage for the exercise’s logistics support. Read more in this news story about DLA’s forward presence.