FORT BELVOIR, Va. –
Army Reserve Soldiers took their training to the next level establishing real-world petroleum distribution support sites during the 2023 Quartermaster Liquid Logistics Exercise on June 12-24.
Fuel handlers and laboratory specialists from seven Reserve battalions worked with Defense Logistics Agency Energy Americas teams to improve end-to-end readiness and efficiently deliver more than 1.6 million gallons of fuel to 21 Department of Defense installations across the nation.
“The exercise is not only an opportunity to test command and control, accountability, storage, and fuel distribution, but it’s also a way to showcase how Reserve units can deploy to support real-world operations,” said DLA Energy Americas Director of Operations Support Ben Beadles.
During the exercise, DLA Energy’s Joint Reserve Force worked with DLA Energy quality assurance representatives to provide oversight of operations at six defense fuel support points: five along the East Coast and one at Point Loma, California. DLA Energy Americas Operations Officer Adam Minnich said embedding JRF personnel at the DFSPs during the exercise enabled critical real-time communication flow and was pivotal to the success of the operations.
DLA Energy supply planners worked with the DFSP terminal managers and downstream customers to substitute commercial supply chain transportation nodes with Reserve transportation capabilities.
“This exercise demonstrated the Army Reserve’s ability to sustain liquid logistics operations and be a viable bulk petroleum transportation capability for DLA Energy Americas in the event of a disruption in commercial transportation nodes,” said DLA Energy Americas Operations Officer Ray Juré.
DLA Energy Americas Commander Army Col. Josielyn Carrasquillo said exercises like QLLEX enable multifaceted teams from across the fuel supply chain to work together, train and prepare to ensure uninterrupted fuel sustainment to the warfighter despite possible real-time challenges or disruptions.
“Integrating joint, multi-service, combined and commercial partners into a single exercise enhances interoperability, builds strong relationships and fosters a comprehensive understanding of fuel contingency operations,” she said. “We capitalized on the full scope, scale and skills in fuel acquisition, storage, distribution and surge capabilities.”
Curtis Morgan with DLA Energy Americas East was the quality control lead for this year’s exercise. His team of QARs inspected 187 Army Reserve fuel tank trucks prior to the exercise, observed loading operations at DFSPs to ensure proper terminal procedures were followed, validated mobile fuel testing labs were suitable to test DLA Energy capitalized fuel, and tested combat-ready battlefield quality control capabilities on over 318,000 gallons of aviation fuel.
“Tanker inspection was a great improvement from last year where the pass rate was 84%, to a 96% pass rate this year,” Morgan said. “The USAR established tiger teams this year that went out in advance of the exercise to do pre-inspection of the tanker fleet being utilized, which clearly contributed to improved operations.”
This year’s exercise, hosted by the 77th Quartermaster Group, also showcased the U.S. Army’s joint relationship with the United Kingdom’s Field Army Headquarters from Andover, England.
“Over the past 12-month planning cycle, the UK’s 9th Royal Logistics Corps participated in three planning workshops to develop joint operational capability with the USAR,” Beadles said.
The 9th RLC provided 32 petroleum troops and two support personnel embedded with the quartermaster battalions to observe Army petroleum doctrine in practice. This relationship is expected to grow for QLLEX 2024, where the RLC will field equipment and directly participate as part of the exercise, Beadles added.
For nearly four decades, the annual QLLEX exercise bridges the gap between training and realistic operations. While DLA Energy focused on fuel, the exercise also involved water distribution and handling offering Army Reserve soldiers the opportunity to hone their comprehensive liquid logistics skills in a demanding environment.