Providing quality fuel support to U.S. forces on the continent of Africa is no small task, but the Defense Logistics Agency Energy Europe and Africa team is working hard to overcome challenges and provide the best possible fuel support for the emerging missions there, said the unit’s commander.
There are many logistical challenges in supporting missions on Africa due to infrastructure constraints, said Army Col. Stephen Walker, DLA Energy’s Europe and Africa region commander.
“But, the dedicated professionals of DLA Energy, DLA Energy Europe and Africa and the U.S. Africa Command Joint Petroleum Office are working together to attack the challenges head on,” he said.
Walker’s team has been supporting the new unified combatant command since its inception in 2008.
AFRICOM has made inroads in improving infrastructure, explained Walker’s deputy commander, Charles Gross, but DLA Energy is still challenged with unimproved highway and road networks, unreliable telephone networks and limited bulk fuel storage availability.
As the U.S. partnership presence grows in the region, DLA Europe and Africa and the Joint Petroleum Office are making strides in providing more robust fuel support around the 53-nation area of responsibility. Currently, there are 29 Into-Plane contracts in 27 countries, 10 marine gas and oil bunker locations in eight countries, and a defense fuel support point in Djibouti. The DLA Europe and Africa quality team is conducting surveys to further increase availability.
DLA Energy supports many ongoing operations through its Horizon Terminal contractor-owned-and-operated Defense Fuel Support Point Djibouti. The terminal provides marine aviation fuel JP5 and marine diesel F76 to U.S. Naval vessels transiting the Suez Canal. It also fuels international forces supporting Combined Task Force 150’s maritime security mission and Combined Task Force 151’s counterpiracy mission.
Djibouti is also home to the U.S. Navy’s Camp Lemonier, the only U.S. forward-located operating base on the continent. Camp Lemonier and Combined Joint Task Force Horn of Africa conduct operations in the East Africa region to build partner nation capacity to promote regional security and stability, prevent conflict and protect U.S. and coalition interests. The DLA Europe and Africa team is heavily engaged in improving bulk storage capabilities for the base as it transitions from an expeditionary to an enduring location.
DLA Energy also provides fuel support to critical exercises in the region. Combined exercises with African countries not only foster partnerships and build interoperability, but also help stimulate local economies where ground fuels may be purchased under local procurement authority.
In 2010, the DLA Europe and Africa team oversaw support to more than 24 exercise training events with combined fuel requirements of more than 2 million gallons. These include critical exercises like the U.S. Army Africa’s Natural Fire humanitarian assistance and disaster relief exercise in Uganda.
As AFRICOM continues to build capability in Africa, DLA Energy Europe and Africa representatives will continue to work alongside the unified combatant command’s planners to ensure responsive fuel support in the area, Walker said.