Joint Army, Air Force petroleum training

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Justin Norton
  • 302nd Airlift Wing

Airmen from the 302nd Logistics Readiness Squadron provided hands-on training to Army petroleum systems technicians from the 59th Quartermaster Company, Fort Carson, on Air Force fuel operations during a group training event here Jan. 27, 2021.

The 302 LRS Airmen provided an overall review of each facet of the Air Force fuel systems career field. The training was divided into four segments: fuel truck operations and inspections, fuel sample testing, cryogenics and aircraft fuel servicing.

"The 59th QM has a specific mission where they sometimes co-deploy with Air Force counterparts," said Senior Master Sgt. Paul Franklin, 302 LRS fuel shop noncommissioned officer in charge. "They use Air Force refueling trucks and put fuel on C-130s, so the knowledge helps them when they’re down range working with our equipment.”

The soldiers learned how the 302 LRS stores and secures fuel after receiving it from an external source. Airmen also taught the soldiers their way of inspecting and checking the fuel for waste, particulates and other anomalies that can cause problems if not properly identified.

The fuel systems specialists rolled out a fuel truck and demonstrated how Airmen load the truck up with fuel and inspect the vehicle for discrepancies. Soldiers had the opportunity to sit inside of the truck and get a feel for how it differs from the equipment they use.

"Our process of distributing fuel to our trucks and the flight line is very different than how they do it," said Franklin. "Their trucks are smaller and more capable in the rough terrains of a war environment, but ours holds more fuel, has more pumping capability and is more versatile in the types of systems it can interact with as well as the types of aircraft it can refuel."

Soldiers also visited the flight line and observed how the refueling trucks used by 302 LRS provide fuel to a C-130 aircraft. Airmen rolled out the refueling hose that hooks up to a port on the side of the aircraft and demonstrated how fuel can be directed to various fuel tanks by interacting with a panel next to the fuel port.

Finally, the soldiers got a brief look at how the 302 LRS fuel systems technicians handle liquid oxygen. The soldiers learned how the Airmen store and secure the material, and were taught how it is transported safely to the aircraft for use by a specialized mobile storage cart. 

"The quality of the training was great,” said Warrant Officer Robert Evans, 59 QM petroleum supply technician. “Seeing how your folks operate as bulk petroleum specialists supporting Peterson Air Force Base helps our soldiers understand the role they play as bulk petroleum specialists for Fort Carson, and we couldn't get that if we hadn't been welcomed with open arms.”

The concept of putting fuel on airplanes is mostly the same for the Army and Air Force, Franklin said. But the tiny details are what make the difference when the two branches work together, and problems develop if specialists from one branch don’t know how the other operates.

"We train to ensure we're able to deploy at any time," said Evans. "Seeing that these Airmen share the same goals helps us see that we're on the same path toward mission readiness and just happen to wear two different branch names on our uniforms."

Evans said the ability to experience joint interoperability now, rather than waiting until they were deployed to an austere environment, was the biggest part of the training event. Even though the Army and Air Force both operate with high standards, they're still two different organizations and neither wants to be blindsided by different ways of doing things while deployed. 

"This training isn't one individual's program, plan or idea,” said Franklin. “Our people coming together to cooperate is where the rubber met the road. Watching everyone showcase their knowledge and capabilities and learn from each other created a sense of pride. This wouldn't have been possible without everybody being involved."

The training is part of a larger objective, Franklin said. Airmen from the 302 LRS also provided similar training to soldiers from the 59 QM almost two years ago. A portion of those soldiers use that training now during their deployed operations.

The team plans to set up training in the future where 302 LRS Airmen travel to Fort Carson and experience how the 59 QM performs their mission. Franklin said if the Airmen know how the Army operates before they’re deployed together, it makes the team more prepared ahead of time so the mission runs smoother.

“Every deployment I’ve ever been on in this career field has me working with some other branch of service, so I believe we should be doing more joint force integration,” said Franklin.  “Fort Carson has assets I've never dreamed of and they’re just a few minutes down the road. If we have the ability to use those assets and develop a working relationship with the Army, it's going to make a more prepared total force better able to perform the mission."