Fueling Exercise Mobility Guardian

By Connie Braesch DLA Energy Public Affairs

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“Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity.” – General George S. Patton, U.S. Army

Defense Logistics Agency Energy Americas West’s management of petroleum supply chains was put to the test during the U.S. Air Force Air Mobility Command’s largest training event, Exercise Mobility Guardian 2019, at Fairchild Air Force Base, Spokane, Washington, Sept. 7-29.

“The team overcame what seemed to be insurmountable odds and provided the required volume on time and on-specification,” said DLA Energy Americas West Commander Navy Cmdr. Michael Wilson. “I couldn’t be more proud of the team and the creativity, risk-taking, cooperation and collaboration they displayed.” 

The biennial full-spectrum readiness exercise challenged the more than 4,000 service men and women and several international Air Forces in military readiness. The challenge for DLA Energy was ensuring the vast array of large aircraft, equipment and vehicles had the more than five million gallons fuel needed throughout the exercise. 

To overcome supply chain limitations, DLA Energy Americas West Operations Officer Daniel Schmidt was on-site supporting the Warfighters. Schmidt along with Camillia Young, Emily Weaver, Bowdoin Swenson, Bruce DeSoto, Cydne Chambers and others worked together to increase fuel supplies during the exercise. Young, DLA Energy Americas West bulk fuels supervisor, and Weaver, DLA Energy headquarters lead supply planner, coordinated to increase the fuel received during current pipeline deliveries without impacting supply to other commercial customers in the area. 

To supplement the regularly scheduled deliveries, DLA Energy Americas West Distribution Manager Swenson, headquarters Inventory Planning Branch Chief DeSoto and headquarters Traffic Management Specialist Chambers coordinated efforts to obtain a tank truck contract from West Texas.

“Tank truck availability in the region is difficult to obtain due to competing requirements,” Swenson said. “The West Texas tank truck contract turned out to be incredibly beneficial when on Sept. 5 the Bonneville Lock and Dam on the Columbia River went out of service and all traffic on the river, including fuel barges, would be interrupted until Sept. 30.”

Although the Columbia River shutdown would impact fuel deliveries, the entire team planned ahead to ensure there was ample inventory for the duration of the exercise. 

“Regular updates between DLA Energy, AMC headquarters, Air Force Petroleum Office, contracted trucks and Fairchild AFB made sure the exercise was a success,” DeSoto said. “The team kept in touch and seamlessly worked through any issues they encountered.”

In addition to managing fuel supplies and shipments, the Americas West team facilitated the first-ever field deployment and exercise of the large portable expeditionary bladder berm with U.S. Air Force Fuels Operational Readiness Capability Equipment assets. DLA Energy contracted tank trucks downloaded into these non-capitalized bladders on the flight line to meet exercise objectives.

“This training objective was practiced to gain experience using the expeditionary berm in a forward-based, austere location in a wartime scenario,” Schmidt said. “Like any skill set, not practicing or exercising it will lead to a lack of proficiency; and maintaining proficiency is key to military readiness.”

DLA Energy Acting Deputy Commander Bruce Blank attended Distinguished Visitors Day, Sept. 25. 

“It was a privilege to represent DLA Energy and witness the results of our support to all participants,” he said. “It was especially great to hear DLA Energy and Americas West specifically called out for our outstanding support of the exercise at the opening brief.”