DLA Energy’s Pacific pivot begins in the Americas

By Terry Shawn DLA Energy Public Affairs

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The Department of Defense is continuing to move forward with its strategy to reposition and rebalance its assets in the Pacific area of responsibility to better support the warfighter and preserve security.

Defense Logistics Agency Energy regional offices, including Americas, will serve as a jumping off point for the organization of that logistical undertaking.

The Department of Defense Quadrennial Defense Review 2014, a document former Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel said in March 2014 would “seek to adapt, reshape and rebalance our military to prepare for the strategic challenges and opportunities we face in the years ahead,” explains the intent of the U.S. rebalancing of assets in the Pacific.

“(The intent is) rebalancing and sustaining our presence and posture abroad to better protect U.S. national security interests. In striving to achieve our three strategic objectives, the department will also continue to rebalance and sustain our global posture,” according to the review. “We will continue our contributions to the U.S. rebalance to the Asia-Pacific region, seeking to preserve peace and stability in a region that is increasingly central to U.S. political, economic, and security interests.”

To support the pivot to the Pacific strategy, Defense Logistics Agency Energy has redefined its mission to efficiently and effectively support the services in repositioning of DoD assets in the region. In this rebalancing mission, DLA Energy Americas, commanded by Army Col. Ronald Ross, plays a role.

The combination of professional petroleum logistics and quality assurance specialists at DLA Energy Americas regional commands at Houston, under the command of Army Lt. Col. Christopher Oldani, and DLA Energy Americas at San Pedro, California, commanded by Air Force Maj. Todd Morin, provide support and logistical expertise to the rebalancing effort in the Pacific.

DLA Energy Americas at San Pedro annually provides more than $2.1 billion worth of bulk petroleum support to 130 bases, stations and federal agency sites in 11 western states in the continental U.S., said DLA Energy Americas at San Pedro Deputy Commander David Ray.

“Our region also supports requirements for bulk petroleum, lubricant oils and fuel additives for various locations in Hawaii, Japan and Guam in the Pacific area of responsibility from suppliers on the U.S. West Coast,” he added.

Improvements Advance the Pivot

To support the rebalancing strategy in the Pacific, DLA Energy West Coast facilities have had to be improved to more efficiently support the increase in personnel, vehicles, aircraft and vessels involved with the mission.

Naval Base Point Loma, California, originally built in 1907 as a Naval coaling station that provided coal to support President Theodore Roosevelt’s Great White Fleet during its 1908 sail around the world, had its fuel storage system modernized and will have its old fuel pier replaced with a double-deck concrete fuel pier as part of an ongoing $66.3 million military construction project. Nearby, Marine Corps Air Station Miramar also replaced its 1950s-era fuel storage system.

DLA Energy is providing millions of dollars in Sustainment, Restoration and Modernization funding to ensure optimal readiness and stewardship of all defense fuel support points across the globe, Morin said.

To meet demands, including the Pacific pivot requirements, there has been an optimal integration of west coast commercial refinery, storage and distribution evolving capabilities with a strategically reshaped DoD petroleum infrastructure to provide bulk petroleum supply and distribution.

DLA Energy Americas at San Pedro has led the way in expanding DoD’s access and innovation into the continental U.S. West Coast commercial terminals, fuel ports and distribution systems, Ray said.  

“By utilizing Tender Operating Agreements and commercial owned/operated defense fuel support points, Americas at San Pedro, along with their Fort Belvoir teammates, strategically established commercial fuel terminals within the pipeline distribution system,” he added. “(This was done) to meet growing DoD demands,  and provide supply chain resiliency to meet contingency and crisis response while providing optimal efficiency and stewardship than could have been achieved via traditional military construction options such as government owned and operated facilities,” he added.

Americas at San Pedro maintains strategic relations with petroleum refinery, distribution and storage partners such as Kinder Morgan Energy Partners, Exxon Mobil, NuStar, Chevron, BP, Valero and Tesoro, who provide DLA Energy with options and benefits.

“The combination of strategic leveraging of commercial partners’ distribution and supply chain capabilities along, with targeted modernization of DoD DFSPs, is a winning combination to provide optimal strategic logistics options and capabilities while balancing stewardship and resiliency,” Ray said.

Training Promotes Readiness

The military readiness that enables and sustains the Pacific pivot is accomplished at the National Training Centers that are located in Americas at San Pedro’s area of responsibility.

DLA Energy Americas at San Pedro provides bulk petroleum sustainment to three centers in California: the Army’s National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Marine Corp Air Ground Combat Center at 29 Palms and the Navy’s Fleet Ports at San Diego. Other centers in the AOR supported by DLA Energy are Puget Sound, Washington, Air Force’s Red Flag exercises at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada and the Navy’s premier tactical air warfare training center at Naval Air Station Fallon, Nevada.

A part of the Pacific pivot involves the shift to commercial storage facilities from government-run defense fuel support points.

In 2014, DLA Energy Americas at San Pedro and the California Army National Guard conducted the joint fuel logistics exercise, FUELEX, which demonstrated a coordinated effort in fuel distribution throughout the southern California region. Twenty-eight tanker trucks moved 238,000 gallons of jet fuel from DFSP Point Loma to five California bases. Based on the success of the exercise, 2015’s FUELEX will be expanded to lift fuel from the petroleum contractor’s-owned, contractor-operated terminals to interface with commercial terminals versus military DFSPs.

It is from the West Coast that a majority of the force projection and logistics sustainment will originate to support and sustain any significant pivot to the Pacific crisis response, Ross said.   

“DLA Energy Americas and their West Coast strategic partners have historically, and continue to create, fuel logistics options to ensure the pivot to the Pacific is sustained and ready to surge to meet any and all warfighter fuel requirements,” he said.

History Has Seen Repositioning Before

DoD operations on the U.S. West Coast have played a role in facilitating the military services’ peacetime preparations in a Pacific regional strategy just as they did more than 95 years before.

During tensions between the U.S. and Japan in 1919, the administration of President Woodrow Wilson transferred American warships to the Pacific Ocean. Because the port at San Diego was considered too shallow, the fleet went north to what would become the new battleship anchorage; the ports of San Pedro, also known as Los Angeles Harbor, and Long Beach, California.

“Los Angeles Harbor was one of the world’s greatest oil ports,” according to the book, The Battle Fleet at San Pedro, Long Beach, California – 1919-1940. “Savings in oil transportation costs alone went a long way in keeping the fleet within its modest peacetime budget.”

Battleships, carriers and auxiliary ships operated and trained from 1919 to May 1940 on the U.S. West Coast until, after completing the annual naval exercise in Hawaii, President Franklin Roosevelt ordered the fleet to remain at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. This repositioning of U.S. military forces was designed as a strategic deterrent until the beginning of World War II.

After the beginning of World War II, the Dept. of Interior’s Army-Navy Petroleum Board, which would become the DLA 20 years later, was established in 1942. Through the coordinated efforts with the petroleum industry, a majority of the Pacific theater of operation’s bulk petroleum support would come from the petroleum refining and distribution systems in the Western U.S.

“For the same reasons the Navy chose the Los Angeles Harbor/Basin to pivot their battle fleet to the Pacific in 1919 and leverage the commercial energy partners support, DLA Energy has strategically located (Americas at San Pedro) to optimally align with our continental U.S. West Coast strategic commercial and military partners,” Ray said.

Over the past several decades, this has resulted in the optimal integration of west coast commercial refinery, storage and distribution systems’ evolving capabilities with a strategically reshaped DoD petroleum infrastructure to provide bulk petroleum supply and distribution resiliency and stewardship, he explained.

DLA Energy Americas and their distribution and contracting teammates at DLA Energy Supplier Operations in Fort Belvoir have partnered with (commercial petroleum companies/partners) to leverage their vast fuel distribution and storage systems to provide optimal bulk petroleum support and resiliency to the greater DoD bulk petroleum distribution network, Ray said.

“We are ready to repeat the history of the historic fuel logistics successes of our World War II predecessors by ensuring we have the options to push regional and global fuel logistics to the warfighter,” Ross said.