SOUTHWEST ASIA –
As the early morning sun rises, beads of sweat trickle down off the brow of Airmen exposed to the elements of the unforgiving desert in Southwest Asia. A unique team of petroleum, oil and lubricant Airmen display their strong work ethic, experience and positive attitude by controlling, distributing and testing mission essential fuels daily.
The 386th Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron’s fuels management flight is responsible for supplying approximately 150,000 gallons of fuel a day supporting Operation Inherent Resolve. The POL team works tirelessly to improve fuel efficiency, saving the Defense Logistics Agency and U.S. Air Force time and money. Maintenance upgrades to the fuel distribution structure is currently underway with a plan to redesign the system for effective expeditionary results.
“You will never hear, ‘that’s not my job,’” said Master Sgt. Bradley Tykoski, 386th ELRS fuels operations section chief, referring to the members of his team. “It is nothing short of amazing about how much work they are willing to do.”
The team is currently adding extra fuel lines to the existing fuel bladders and pumps, allowing twice as much fuel to be distributed to the aircraft and trucks as fast as possible. They are also installing communication wire to each pumping unit and connecting them to a servicing platform to control all the pumps by remote. The speed of fuel distribution throughout the installation will increase through the remote controls and make it much safer for everyone involved.
With the vision at hand and the time allotted to complete the workload ahead, the POL team is optimistic about their capabilities because of the characteristics they brings to the table.
“The constant process of degradation is extremely noticeable in a contingency environment,” said Senior Master Sgt. Christopher Cady, 386th ELRS fuels management flight superintendent, deployed from Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska. “We will probably not accomplish everything that needs to be done, but I am confident we will be working the whole rotation to leave this place better than we found it.”
Along with the upgrades the POL team has improved the aviation gas or AVGAS distribution process here. They are the sole AVGAS distribution hub for the Air Force Central Command. AVGAS is used for remotely piloted aircraft and the team supports U.S. services from multiple forward operation bases throughout the area of responsibility.
“We have streamlined the process from the top down,” said Tech. Sgt. Garrick Tilley, ELRS fuels service center section chief, in charge of the AVGAS billing process. “From when we receive the request to the submission and issuing process. We have changed small things but we have made the standard process more efficient.”
Preparing the AVGAS for storage and transportation is another phase to the process.
“I couldn’t ask for a better team,” said Staff Sgt. Alfredo Fuentes, 386th ELRS preventive maintenance noncommissioned officer in charge, deployed from Luke Air Force Base, Arizona. “It doesn’t matter what section you work in, everybody is willing to help. It makes it much easier to accomplish a task.”
Fuentes, on his seventh deployment, is a reservist with experience and oversees the AVGAS shipment process. He ensures barrels and blivet’s are filled with AVGAS for shipments downrange according to loadmaster specifications. If a location cannot abstract the AVGAS from a barrel, a blivet is filled and sent instead.
The POL team is comprised of a combination of U.S. Air Force active duty and reservist Airmen and all work diligently to help each other accomplish tasks within smaller sections of the fuel information service center, operations, and fuels management areas of the flight.
“The real gem is the people,” added Cady. “You never know what you are going to get on a deployment. You can have all the equipment or money in the world but if you don’t have the people, it makes it so much harder to get things done. I think I have a pretty good box of chocolates.”
Editor's note: The original story can be viewed on the U.S. Air Forces Central Command website.