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Airmen train Iraqis on fuel delivery

by Tech. Sgt. Russell Wicke
447th Air Expeditionary Group Public Affairs


6/25/2007 - SATHER AIR BASE, Iraq (AFPN)  -- Airmen from the 447th Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron Fuels Flight are training Iraqis here to fuel up their own C-130 Hercules aircraft without dependence on the Air Force.

The training plan is broken down into a "crawl, walk run" process, said Master Sgt. Scott Addington, 447th ELRS Petroleum, Oils and Lubricant fuels manager.

The first day, involved familiarization of the Iraqis fuel trucks.

"These guys are in the infancy stage of fueling," Sergeant Addington said. "We developed a six-phase process designed to ease them into this work."

The Iraqi fuels shop is now learning the fundamentals of moving fuel. Later training will involve tracking and recording fuel, and eventually performing lab work.

The Iraqi airmen at New Al-Muthana will be responsible for refueling their own C-130s, helicopters and their aerospace ground equipment, that right now the U.S. Airmen are taking care of, said Tech. Sgt. Chad Wilkey, 447th ELRS fuels operations supervisor.

In addition to the Iraqis' aircraft and equipment, the Airmen of 447th ELRS fuels shop have their hands full with other commitments. Hundreds of transit aircraft funnel through Sather Air Base every week -- all requiring fuel. Furthermore, the Army's 3rd Infantry Division Combat Aviation Brigade has more than 100 helicopters flying daily missions from Baghdad International Airport. They all depend on fuel from the 447th ELRS.

Multiple generators which supply electricity to the base; all depend on POL for clean fuel.

"We provide the life-blood of the American warfighter," Sergeant Wilkey said. "Nobody goes anywhere without gas."

The team does more than deliver fuel. The lab technicians here ensure the fuel is of high quality. They sample fuel from the fuel trucks and the 50,000-gallon fuel bladders, testing them for a number of contaminants.

"I test the fuel for solids, (like dirt) and trace amounts of water," said Tech. Sgt. Terrance Ladd, 447th ELRS fuels lab technician. "If my tests indicate the fuel is too dirty, or has too much water, we have to take action to correct the problem," he said.

Sergeant Ladd also said the JP-8 fuel he works with requires several additives to enhance engine performance. He runs lab work on the JP-8 to ensure it has the right amount of icing inhibitor and static dissipater. Without these additives, the fuel could develop crystallized ice, or build up static electricity. Sergeant Ladd also tests the fuel for proper flash point.

In addition to lab testing come the rigors of inventory and paperwork. When people depend on a product that comes by convoy, problems can occur.

"We have a small surplus of fuel because re-supply trucks are unpredictable," Sergeant Wilkey said. For this reason, the amount fueled to aircraft is limited, unless they arrange for more in advance."

The fuels crew stands up under a heavy yoke, to provide clean, dry fuel to the entire base and the coalition in addition to the training of Iraqis -- all in a hostile environment, Sergeant Addington said.

But, it would take more than this and the occasional rocket attack to break the resolve of the Airmen in POL, he said.

"We like the term 'resilient' defined by Webster's as, 'tending to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change,'" Sergeant Addington said. "What doesn't kill you will only make you stronger."



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