Shoulder-to-shoulder, the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the U.S. military operated together in the 35th annual Balikatan exercise April 1-12. Throughout the exercise, Defense Logistics Agency Energy provided six types of fuel and delivered 234,717 gallons to the U.S. military services at 18 different sites.
“We provided technical assistance on several DLA Energy applications for the U.S. Marine Corps Exercise Fuel Officer and the fuel vendors,” said DLA Energy Hawaii’s Operations Officer Army Capt. Theodore Yost. “We provided DLA Energy’s Enterprise External Business Portal training to track orders in real time helping to save time and prevent potential billing errors.”
Yost and Customer Account Specialist Dan Picciarelli operated out of Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City, the military headquarters of the Philippine Army and the AFP, to oversee fueling operations throughout the region.
Having the DLA Energy team’s presence in country proved beneficial when expediting the requesting service components receipt of Into-truck fuel cards, Picciarelli said. The DLA Energy Into-truck fuel card is similar to an Into-plane card but enables fuel to be loaded into a fuel truck.
“With our assistance, the units obtained the government fuel cards and were able to exercise one of their main training objectives which was to receive fuel into their fuel trucks versus directly into an aircraft at a commercial airport,” Picciarelli said. “Valuable lessons were learned for future operations.”
The team faced challenges during the exercise, specifically when dealing with the time change between the Philippines and U.S.
“In the Philippines there was an 18 hour difference backward from our supervisors in Hawaii and a 12 hour difference backward from DLA Energy headquarters in Virginia,” Yost said. “The services were operating every day to include the weekends, so the hurdles of a significant time difference and operations through the weekend made it a bit difficult to provide timely answers to specific contracting questions.”
The forward DLA Energy contracting officer in Hawaii, Luis Beza-Cay, helped bridge these hurdles and field questions as needed, Yost added.
Balikatan, which means “shoulder-to-shoulder” in Tagalog, embodies the alliance and friendship between the two countries.