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Fuels flight reps visit Slovakia


Release Date: 7/31/2003

By Staff Sgt. Jerome Baysmore 31st Fighter Wing Public Affairs

AVIANO AIR BASE, Italy (USAFENS) -- Two members of the 31st Logistics Readiness Squadron here helped strengthen military relations with Slovakia last week.

Senior Master Sgt. Russell Steger and Capt. Brandon Maroon, 31st LRS Fuels Management Flight representatives, visited Slovakia on a week-long temporary duty assignment to familiarize their air force with U.S. and NATO fuels storage and distribution capabilities.

"It was a successful trip with a great exchange of information and memorable - albeit translated - conversation," Maroon said. "We started our trip in the town of Zvolen where we briefed many fuels officers and a few civilian laboratory technicians on our mission relating to [petroleum, fuels and lubricants] in the Air Force and specifically at Aviano."

The fuels distribution flight commander added the Slovak military relies on its POL officer corps to be commanders in a managerial sense as well as proficient in every facet of the fuels arena. The officers are also assigned to train the small noncommissioned officer corps on fuels processes.

"To be a former eastern-block country, they're really modern," said Steger. "I thought [the base] was going to be run down, but their infrastructure and fuels handling were similar to the way we do things.

"Their handling and quality procedures are pretty much the same."

Slovakia organized their air force through a conscript program where the draftees serve up to nine months but they're working to phase that system out and move toward an all-volunteer force. Slovakia is also soliciting to join NATO next year.

"Our translator, Robert, worked overtime every night to make sure our international relations remained high and that our humor translated across cultural boundaries," Maroon said. "We had such a great rapport with the military members, they gladly joined us when we noticed them walking by at a restaurant downtown."

Steger explained the Slovakian air force conforms to many of the same handling and storage procedures as the Air Force but were a little behind on automation.

"They were very hospitable, and it was overall a good trip," he said. "Going there was very relaxing because we didn't just touch down at a base and do briefings for a straight week. We got to tour some of the countryside by car."

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