Energy commander, French fuel service discuss regional support, experience sharing

By Christopher Goulait DLA Energy Public Affairs

The Defense Logistics Agency Energy commander discussed ongoing and upcoming fuel support and ways to exchange knowledge with his French fuel service counterparts Dec. 9.

DLA Energy Commander Air Force Brig. Gen. Mark McLeod met with Service des Essences des Armées Commanding General Maj. Gen. Jean-Luc Volpi and other French fuel service representatives while Volpi visited Fort Lee.

Fuel support to the Africa Command area of responsibility was a major subject they discussed, said John Cummings, a branch chief with DLA Installation Support for Energy who accompanied McLeod.

“In most of the areas we’re working in around North Africa, the French have extensive military contacts we’re able to leverage,” Cummings said. “Also, during our Ebola response in West Africa, we were using the same fuel provider the French usually use, so we were able to leverage some of that capability.”

“Now that we have expanded missions in the AFRICOM AOR, the French can provide an incredible knowledge base,” added Army Col. Doug Henry, director of DLA Energy’s Strategic Programs and Initiatives directorate and an attendee as well.

Another subject of discussion involved an officer exchange program between the two fuel organizations to share experiences. A French officer visited DLA Energy headquarters in October en route to an exchange assignment with DLA Energy Europe and Africa, while two DLA Energy employees gained experience from SEA in November.

“Both (commanders) want to continue working together,” Cummings said. “We’re going to see the continued development of the officer exchanges in Europe. We will continue to see them develop those relationships, and that’s the biggest thing that comes out of this.”

McLeod and Volpi touched on ongoing coordination for the creation of a NATO Joint Petroleum Center of Excellence in Europe as well.

Though the topics were important, simply having an opportunity for a senior leader engagement at this level was noteworthy, Cummings said.

“SEA is a major partner for us in Europe, and just being able to have the two commanders sit down and talk with each other at that level helps,” he said. “We have a lot of interaction between DLA Energy and SEA at the lower level, but having the commanders meet and develop rapport is important to keep the lower-level interactions strong.”

“There’s incredible efficiency and resiliency gained when you work with your partners, in this case, your NATO partners,” Henry added. “All too often we approach this in a stovepipe and chose to tackle logistics problems alone, but when you start considering multi-national logistics, there’s greater capability and greater efficiency out there.”

While at Fort Lee, McLeod also met with Commanding General of the Army Quartermaster Center and Schools Commander Army Brig. Gen. Ronald Kirklin. Henry described their meeting as mostly focused on the professional development of the Army’s petroleum officers.

“The Army has created a relatively new career field in petroleum warrant officers, 923A,” Henry explained. “This year they’ve had their first 923A make chief warrant officer four, and potential assignments at DLA for these senior warrants is an opportunity to develop a more holistic strategic picture of the bulk petroleum enterprise.”