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NEWS | July 1, 2021

Soldiers at annual petroleum exercise help fuel the fight

By Sgt. 1st Class Kelvin Ringold 13th Expeditionary Sustainment Command

Approximately 250 Soldiers from the 61st Quartermaster Battalion, 13th Expeditionary Sustainment Command, prepared and participated in the 2021 Quartermaster Liquid Logistics Exercise on June 7-26.

Joined by over 400 U.S. Army Reserve Soldiers that came from units across the nation, the annual QLLEX exercise allowed the Spartans to provide mission command of bulk petroleum storage and distribution forces, a petroleum quality analysis detachment, a water purification and bulk water distribution company, a field services company, and a movement control team to help train the unit’s wartime mission.

“Our Soldiers and leaders had the opportunity to conduct reception, staging, onward-movement and integration for our Reserve Component units during the exercise,” said Lt. Col. Paul Smith, Commander, 61st Quartermaster Battalion. “That is critical considering our role as the Army’s early entry petroleum capability and that in war, we will have to do the same.”

In order to support the warfighters participating in the exercise, the Spartans; established a logistics support area, established defended command posts, built multiple 100,000-gallon fuel system supply points (FSSP), laid five miles of the Inland Petroleum Distribution System (IPDS), and connected an assault hose line system to the Tactical Petroleum Terminal.

“During the establishment of the FSSP the engineers measure and build berms for the tanks,” said 1st Sgt. Clark Burns Jr., 53rd Quartermaster Company. “After berm liners are set, 20,000 or 50,000-gallon fuel bags or tanks are placed, and the necessary hoses and couplings are attached to include the pump, filter separator and flow meter according to the platoon leader’s diagram.”

In order to place the two 50,000-gallon fuel bags for 53rd's FSSP, the terrain had to be excavated. After being in the Army for only a year and a half, San Diego, California native Pfc. Giericko Peralta, a horizontal construction engineer with 53rd Quartermaster Co., was excited to get behind the wheel.

“It felt good getting to do my job,” Peralta said. “I put in as much effort as I could and absorbed as much knowledge as possible to help me at the next opportunity.”

As a platoon leader and a transportation officer, 2nd lt. Khadijah Robertson, 53rd Quartermaster Co., was glad her team was able to experience the exercise.

“It was good that we ensured the fuel bags were set-up to standard with no injuries,” Robertson said. “The fuelers and new Soldiers got the opportunity to get great hands-on training.”

Their ability to successfully plan and execute the FSSP led to the site providing over 50,000 gallons of petroleum support to multiple III Corps units during the exercise.

Establishing the IPDS was crucial because it provided training for a rapid deployment, general support, bulk fuel storage and pipeline system designed to move bulk fuel forward in a theater of operations.

“This included a 5-mile pipeline trace, the establishment of the pump station and the building of a beach termination unit which simulated the connection to the Navy’s Off Shore Petroleum Distribution System,” Smith said.

Preparing for, and participating in, the exercise brought the best out of the Spartans, and Smith admired and appreciated the dedication and resilience of those involved.

“Despite the oppressive heat our Soldiers executed their mission essential tasks while still keeping their morale consistently high,” Smith said. “We took on a challenging mission set and have really proven to ourselves that we are one of the Army’s premiere fueling organizations.”

Now that the exercise is behind them, and they plan for their next support mission, Smith wants to ensure his Soldiers walk away from the experience with valuable tools to use in the future.

“I want them to have a sense of confidence in their abilities, stronger bonds between our subordinate units, a better understanding of our role in large scale combat operations and memories that will last a lifetime,” Smith said.