CAMP TAJI, Iraq (Army News Service, Dec. 1, 2008) -- In November, members of the Combat Aviation Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, Multi-National Division - Baghdad, participated in an exercise to recertify on mobile refueling operations.

The training exercise focused primarily on the Advanced Aviation Forward Area Refueling System. The system is a lightweight, portable refueling apparatus designed for rapid refueling of forward-area military aircraft.

"This system is very field expedient," said Capt. Romaine Aguon, commander, Company E, 4th Battalion, 4th Aviation Regiment 'Gambler Guns.' "Typically, you would use this system in a heavily wooded area to camouflage the system components, allowing only the hoses to be exposed for refueling operations."

The AAFARS consists of multiple, high-capacity collapsible fuel drums powered by an engine capable of pumping 240 gallons per minute. The system is characterized as extremely beneficial in a combat environment due to its small size, reliability and ease of use.

"The best thing about this type of refueling operation is that it can be set-up at anytime," said Sgt. Matthew Tate, armament avionics electronic technician, Company D, 4th Bn., 4th Avn. Regt.

"When we get the call, it is as easy as getting the equipment together and moving to the site. This system is a great asset for both the battalion and the brigade," he added.

The AAFARS is both helicopter-transportable and Soldier-portable and can be assembled in about 20 minutes, depending on mission constraints.

The system is also low-velocity, air-drop certified, and it can be dropped into place from the air out of the back of a CH-47F Chinook cargo helicopter or similar cargo variant.

Aguon's company, along with armament Soldiers from Co. D, readied the system in about 11 minutes, which is extremely fast, according to the prescribed assembly time.

Aguon, along with 1st Sgt. Michael Libby, Co. E's top enlisted leader, said they were both impressed with the efficiency the Soldiers displayed during the exercise.

"Typically, our Soldiers use the HEMTT (Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Truck) Tanker Aviation Refueling System when conducting refueling operations." Aguon said. "Today was the first time that this group used the AATARS system as a team, and the Soldiers did a great job."

The Soldiers themselves said they felt this skill set is important to help enhance the brigade's capabilities.

"It is important to let our leaders know that we are capable of employing any of our tactical systems in the event we are called to perform this operation sometime during the course of our mission here in Iraq," said Sgt. Kevin Brodine, a petroleum specialist assigned to Co. E, who hails from San Diego. "In Iraq or any other combat environment, you never know what you're going to get into, and it is important to remain proficient in all aspects pertaining to your job and the tasks you are asked to perform."

(Sgt. Jason Dangel writes for CAB PAO, 4th Inf. Div.)