By Capt. James M. Beebe and Capt. David R. FennoyOctober 31, 2017
The 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade (CAB) underwent the General Services Administration's Aviation Resource Management Survey (ARMS). As part of the survey, four 3rd CAB forward support companies (FSCs) participated in the petroleum, oils, and lubricants (POL) survey.
The ARMS is not mandated by regulation or policy, but it helps to ensure units' compliance with the areas associated with the survey. The survey offers observations and recommendations that units can implement to best manage their aviation assets.
The FSCs were the brigade's leads for the POL survey and were the only companies inspected in their battalions. The POL survey is divided into seven subsections; however, the FSCs were evaluated on only six of them: training program, accountability, equipment, quality surveillance program, safety, and hands-on proficiency. The seventh subsection, facilities, was not surveyed because it did not apply to the FSCs.
The two FSCs supporting the 2nd General Support Aviation Battalion and the 4th Assault Helicopter Battalion failed to achieve a satisfactory evaluation in two subsections: quality surveillance program and safety. This article outlines the FSCs' lessons learned from the POL survey process and shares best practices in order to improve POL program accountability across the Army.
QUALITY SURVEILLANCE PROGRAM
Quality surveillance is critical for the aviation community. How the quality surveillance program is managed drives safety, the flexibility of the supporting unit, and the capability of the supported unit. Half of the questions in the quality surveillance program subsection are weighted heavily, which reflects the subsection's importance in the entire POL program.
Aviation assets require an incredibly high grade of jet fuel. Poor quality aviation fuel could result in aircraft engine failure and the inability of the supporting unit to provide supplies in a timely manner.
TEST FUEL AND EQUIPMENT. The unit must check the performance of filter separators every 30 days by submitting fuel samples to an authorized laboratory. If a filter separator is not tested, the reason for not testing it needs to be documented. Just as heavy expanded-mobility tactical truck filters require testing, so do advanced aviation forward area refueling system filters.
With a total of 40 heavy expanded-mobility trucks between the two FSCs, the standard of submitting fuel samples every 30 days proved difficult to meet. A schedule needs to be followed in order to balance the submission of fuel samples with how many the laboratory is able to process. There should be no gaps in the fuel sample log, but if there are, a reason must be documented. Failure to submit fuel samples is not acceptable.
RECORD RESULTS. Record keeping is equally important. The results from every fuel sample must be kept. It is recommended that results be filed in the POL office and also kept with the tested piece of equipment. This requirement is outlined in Army Regulation 710-2, Supply Policy Below the National Level; Army Techniques Publication (ATP) 4-43, Petroleum Supply Operations, and in Fuels Technical Letter (FTL) 11-02, Filter Effectiveness Program--Millipore Use.
Fuel sample logs must be maintained in accordance with ATP 4-43, FTL 11-02, and Department of the Army Pamphlet 710-2-1, Inventory Management: Using Unit Supply System Manual Procedures.
HAVE THE RIGHT SAMPLING EQUIPMENT ON HAND. In preparation for the inspection, the 3rd CAB transitioned from the 1-gallon sampling method to Millipore sampling. Had the transition been made earlier, the FSCs' filter effectiveness status and number and frequency of samples would have improved. Now that Millipore sampling is the norm, the FSCs can more easily maintain a fleet with nearly perfect filter effectiveness.
REPLACE FILTER SEPARATORS REGULARLY. Filter separator elements must be replaced every 36 months or when pressure differential gage readings or laboratory tests indicate filter malfunctions. Pressure differential readings must be part of the daily preventive maintenance checks and services, and the findings must be recorded in accordance with the applicable references.
Filter separators must be marked with a date to identify when filter elements were installed. Projecting and tracking replacement dates on the company training calendar will ensure that filter separators are not used past the intended replacement date. To ensure fuel quality, aqua glow testing should be included in the daily preventive maintenance of fuel trucks, and fuel should not be issued to aircraft if test equipment is inoperable.
Safety is inherent to every military operation, so its inclusion in the ARMS was no surprise. Nine of the survey's questions concerned safety, and both FSCs failed the three weighted safety questions.
FIRE EXTINGUISHERS. Arguably the single most important part of this inspection was whether the FSCs' fire extinguishers met the standard for size, class, quantity, serviceability, and B:C rating.
The B:C rating specifies the square footage covered by the fire extinguisher once expended appropriately. Fire extinguishers must have a 20 B:C rating at a minimum. A fire extinguisher with a 20 B:C rating should cover 20 square feet.
SPILL RESPONSE PLAN. The company safety officer must update the emergency spill response plan in coordination with the battalion safety officer, and the plan must be present in every truck. Soldiers need to be briefed on, trained on, and have immediate access to this product to ensure proper procedures are followed in the event of a petroleum spill.
FARP SAFETY. The forward arming and refueling point (FARP) safety checklists must be completed, signed by the FARP officer-in-charge or noncommissioned officer-in-charge and the safety officer, and updated regularly. The unit's standard operating procedures will outline the response for other critical safety issues, such as a fire on the FARP.
PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT AND PERSONAL ELECTRONICS. Because the FSCs rarely had issues with Soldiers using personal electronic devices while conducting petroleum operations or not wearing their approved personal protective clothing and equipment while conducting petroleum operations, they readily passed these areas. When the time comes for a survey, however, leaders should to do an in-ranks inspection to ensure compliance. These are easy points to earn but also easy points to lose.
There will always be room to improve. These two FSCs worked diligently to ensure they focused on aligning their practices with all applicable policies, regulations, and doctrine instead of focusing heavily on the survey checklist. The survey checklist served as a useful guide to prepare for the survey, but the leaders and Soldiers who conduct and assist petroleum operations were expected to already understand and implement all the necessary requirements.
The ARMS is absolutely valuable to any aviation support company. Best practices include junior leader engagement and continuous training for the personnel who conduct and assist with petroleum operations. Above all, having open lines of communication with the supported unit will allow any program manager to best meet the needs of such a demanding POL program.
A successfully managed POL program requires a staunch work ethic. If units are actively managing their programs appropriately every day, they will succeed in the survey. Even though ARMS occurs every other year, preparation happens daily.
Capt. James M. Beebe is the company commander for Echo Company, 2nd General Support Aviation Battalion, 3rd CAB, in Savannah, Georgia. He is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy and the Logistics Captains Career Course.
Capt. David R. Fennoy is the company commander for Echo Company, 4th Assault Helicopter Battalion, 3rd CAB, in Savannah, Georgia. He holds a degree from Alabama A&M University and is a graduate of the Logistics Captains Career Course.
This article was published in the November-December 2017 issue of Army Sustainment magazine.