By Capt. Kevin Sandell, 11th Public Affairs DetachmentMarch 21, 2014
CAMP BONDSTEEL, Kosovo (March 21, 2014) -- Fuel is the lifeblood of military operations and the job of controlling fueling operations is a vital one. As noncommissioned officer in charge of all fuel at Camp Bondsteel, U.S. Army Sgt. Christina Dafney-Pressley recognizes the impact that her trade has on missions. Every day, she toils in the morning sun, ensuring fuel operations on the camp are nothing less than perfect.
If not, equipment, vehicles and human lives could be at risk.
"Fuel is a big part of military operations," the 28-year-old sergeant said. "No fuel means you can't really go anywhere, so it's good to be able to provide a service to everybody, that everybody utilizes."
Dafney-Pressley enlisted in 2003 as an Army human resources specialist. The native of Taylorsville, Miss., changed jobs to petroleum supply specialist after her first deployment to Iraq. Currently assigned to the 504th Battlefield Surveillance Brigade, from Fort Hood, Texas, she serves as the contracting officer representative for Multinational Battle Group-East in Kosovo.
Although this position is normally reserved for senior Army logisticians, it was Dafney-Pressley's reputation as a hard-working NCO that got the brigade's logistics section to take notice of her skills.
"I witnessed her in action at [the U.S. Army's Joint Multinational Readiness Center in Hohenfels, Germany] and saw how responsible and committed she is. I knew she was perfect for this position," said Master Sgt. Amy Friendly, MNBG-E logistics NCOIC. "There were critics that felt only a sergeant first class could do it, but I never once doubted her ability to handle the position."
Arriving truckloads of fuel must receive rigorous testing before Dafney-Pressley gives it a seal of approval for delivery to the camp's customers. The fuel's quality must be flawless and held to exact government standards. Army helicopters loaded with faulty fuel, for example, could crash, killing or seriously injuring the personnel on board.
"Nobody wants to be the one that is under investigation for an aircraft malfunctioning for fuel," Dafney-Pressley said. "I never ever want that to happen, but that's a big responsibility and that's the most important thing for me; making sure that the aircraft's fuel is on spec more than anything."
Although dollar values fluctuate depending on aircraft and usage forecasts, on average, Dafney-Pressley is responsible for more than $570,000 worth of diesel, aviation fuel and gasoline per week.
While this is her third deployment, it is her first working as a petroleum supply specialist. Many of the civilians Dafney-Pressley works with on a daily basis through Kellogg, Brown and Root (KBR) have years of experience working fueling operations -- experience she says aids her in learning the trade.
"I have a good crew with KBR, and a lot of them have fuel backgrounds," Dafney-Pressley said. They've made it a stress-free tour for me."
Celebrating the accomplishments of women in service has gained traction in the Army with the recent announcement to open more military specialties to women. Dafney-Pressley thought the influx of female Soldiers entering into previously-closed military occupational specialties is inspiring and historical. She said she is fortunate to serve in an organization where women fought for fairness and added she loves the military, which allowed her to do a lot of things never imagined in the civilian world.
"The women now who are going out and breaking barriers is awesome, and it's given us hope," she said. "It's not just the senior (NCOs), but the (Advanced Individual Training) soldiers who are going into those jobs that were once restricted to males. They're breaking barriers as well and I commend them."
Dafney-Pressley added she feels most females across the military just want to be recognized for their capabilities and not their gender. For her personal goal, she plans on achieving the highest ranks in the NCO corps.
"With the women in the past fighting for equality and the right to be judged off their work versus their gender afforded me, and other females, to reach that level of first sergeant and sergeant major, which is great," she said.