Army fuelers pump over 5 million gallons of jet fuel in Iraq
October 3, 2010
CAMP TAJI, Iraq -- Army fuelers serving in Iraq pumped their millionth gallon of jet fuel on Camp Taji, Oct. 2, bringing their unit's grand total to over 5 million gallons.
In seven months of deployment, their unit has already surpassed the number of gallons that an aviation brigade normally pumps over the course of a 12-month tour. This is due mostly to the fact that their unit is not a typical aviation brigade.
The Enhanced Combat Aviation Brigade, 1st Infantry Division deployed to Iraq this March in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, and is now the Army's sole aviation brigade here. The unit is the Army's first ever enhanced aviation brigade, meaning that it has absorbed other units to become a super-brigade of sorts. As an enhanced brigade, the unit has about double the standard amount of troops and aircraft. With the increased size, the brigade also inherited an increased responsibility for logistical support.
Accordingly, the brigade is now responsible for providing fuel and armament to military helicopters across Iraq at Forward Arming and Refueling Points, or FARPs. The fueling points provide aircraft the ability to refuel and rearm in the middle of a mission. The points are strategically placed at U.S. bases around Iraq to extend the reach of aviation missions.
"We have different battalions from the brigade running the FARPs, and they all report (their numbers) to us," said Staff Sgt. LoRae Davis, the noncommissioned officer in charge of tracking the fuel. Davis is assigned to the 601st Aviation Support Battalion, the enhanced brigade's designated support asset.
"We started taking control of additional FARPs as all the other aviation brigades left (Iraq)," said Davis. "We're able to maintain our daily missions at each location, which makes us successful across the country."
The brigade's fuelers also supervise civilian fuelers from contracted companies, who now work at several FARPs in Iraq.
The FARP on Camp Taji is run by personnel from Company A, 601st ASB. The company operates the point 24-hours a day with about 30 personnel.
Since they took over operations at the FARP this March, the company has fueled over 6,000 aircraft from several branches of the U.S. military, as well as helicopters from the Iraqi army, said Staff Sgt. Kevin Howard, a noncommissioned officer working at the fueling point. This number contributes to the brigade's total of 28,000 aircraft as of Oct. 2.
"The 1 million gallon milestone is a great point to reach without incident or injury," said Capt. Travis Peck, commander of Co. A. "We're aiming to hit somewhere around the 2 million gallon mark by the end of our deployment."
The crew on Camp Taji, along with the brigade's fueling personnel from around the country, is scheduled to hand the mission over to another aviation unit next March. The unit replacing them will be a similarly structured enhanced-brigade, and will also have control of U.S. FARPs throughout Iraq.