June 18, 2015 –
FORT MCCOY, Wis. – A majority of the U.S. Army’s petroleum and water units are currently in the Army Reserve. The Quartermaster Liquid Logistics Exercise is a multicomponent operation that allows reserve units to conduct real-world petroleum and water purification support in a combat training environment.
While delivering bulk petroleum and purifying water may not seem as important as the latest weaponry or fighter plane, more than 4,000 logistics Soldiers in the QLLEX 2015 may disagree. The 475th Quartermaster Group out of Farrell, Pennsylvania hosted the exercise from June 8-16. QLLEX is the largest field training exercise of its kind with real-world logistic operations at the tactical, operational, and strategic level.
A theater level headquarters, the 475th QM Group based the QLLEX headquarters in Fort McCoy, Wisconsin and managed logistics operations at five other sites across the United States: Fort Huachuca, Arizona, Fort Lewis, Washington, Fort Dix, New Jersey, Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and Fort A.P. Hill, Virginia.
Sgt. Maj. Larry Houston, with Support Operations for the 475th QM Group, said the Soldiers are running 24-hour operations during the exercise.
“We receive missions from the Defense Logistics Agency,” Houston said. “Then we tasks missions to our down trace battalions. They go to the defense fuel supply points, pick up the fuel, and then take it to the using customers.”
The exercise began 32 years ago as the Petroleum Oil and Lubricant Exercise, but once water purification training was added in 2004, it developed into the QLLEX. The initial focus of the training has broadened through the years and now includes bulk petroleum distribution, water purification and distribution, and field services support, such as laundry and shower services.
“It’s important because it gives the Soldiers actual hands-on work with the equipment,” Houston, a member of the 475th QM Group, said. “It’s not training fuel we are using. It is real live fuel that goes to real customers.”
Almost doubling the fuel pumped at last year’s event, logistics Soldiers under the 475th QM Group pumped a total of more than 4 million gallons of fuel pump at QLLEX 2015.
Water purification units use the process of reverse osmosis to purify the lake water used at QLLEX 2015 by using Tactical Water Purification Systems which can produce 1,500 gallons of purified water per hour and Reverse Osmosis Water Purification Units which can pump out 3,000 gallons of purified water per hour.
"We take the most nasty, vile water and purify it into drinking water," explained Staff Sgt. Kacee Coster, a water purification specialist with the 651st Quartermaster Company out of Casper, Wyoming. "Everyone needs water. The mission is over within 24 hours if you don't have water. Without clean water, or any water, Soldiers can't do their jobs."
The training obtained during the QLLEX not only helps prepare the logistic units for operations in combat environments, but it also helps prepare them to respond to state-side disasters, explained Houston.
“If there was a disaster, if it was sever enough, they could call us in,” Houston said. “For Hurricanes Sandy and Katrina, they called up some of our water units to purify water, so the residents had water to drink.”
“People think that they just go to their local gas station and get fuel, but there is a lot more to it behind the scenes,” he continued. “It takes a lot of work and coordination. It’s a vital role for the military.”