By Maj. Matthew WernertApril 23, 2019
Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan- Army Contracting Command-Afghanistan hosted a fuel shura, the Arabic word for "consultation," from Apr. 2-3 with key stakeholders in the Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan (CSTC-A), Train, Advise, and Assist Command-Air (TAAC-Air), and the vendors who deliver fuel to the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) in order to discuss fuel quality and delivery to hundreds of sites across Afghanistan.
The ANDSF, just like any other military or police force, needs fuel in order to conduct operations. Without fuel, everything stops. ACC-A awarded contracts to multiple vendors to deliver fuel to Afghan National Army, Afghan Air Force, Special Mission Wing, and Afghan National Police locations.
Additionally, ACC-A awarded a contract for third party quality assurance, whereby a vendor tests the fuel at delivery locations in order to ensure quality of the fuel pumped into vehicles and aircraft. The delivery of fuel by contractors to more than 600 locations across Afghanistan allows the ANDSF to conduct combat operations against the enemies of the Afghan people. The contracts combined value is over $400M. CSTC-A and TAAC-Air continue to train, advise, and assist the ANSDF to one day take over fuel distribution themselves.
The intent of the fuel shura was to further open the lines of communication between the fuel vendors and ACC-A contracting officers as well as discuss the challenges associated with delivering fuel to hundreds of sites across Afghanistan. It was also an opportunity for all participants to gain a better understanding of other perspectives associated with fuel delivery in a war-torn country.
"Communication is important to the success of your contracts. We need you to provide quality fuel delivery services to the ANDSF," Col. Robert McDonald, ACC-A commander, told the vendors. "This is a partnership to provide fuel services to enable the ANDSF to conduct operations so a political solution can be reached."
Through the course of the two-day shura, each vendor discussed their perspective on delivering fuel to contested locations and their concerns that require assistance from the U.S. Government. Topics included the customs process, tax exemption, duration of delivery orders, delivery ticket and invoicing process, Afghan People's Protection Force escort, fuel tank seals, serviceability of vendor fuel trucks, and the vendors' quality control plans.
"Fuel is the lifeblood for the ANDSF to conduct combat operations and corruption is the Achilles heel," stated Brian Butler, CSTC-A Operational Sustainment Chief and a tier-two member of the Senior Executive Service. "Operating in Afghanistan is inherently dangerous, and we understand that you have lost employees and equipment while trying to deliver fuel across the country."
Overall, the fuel vendors gained invaluable insight as to how important they are in the effort to further legitimize the ANDSF as a creditable force.
Finally, Butler and McDonald stressed the importance of identifying and reporting corruption to CSTC-A and ACC-A, since it leads to money lost for the vendors and the U.S. Government.
"I expect reliable partners. It is your responsibility to report corruption and tell us what you are doing about it," McDonald told the vendors.
The fuel shura reinforced ACC-A's commitment to the ACC Contract Administration Pivot by continuing to hold the fuel vendors accountable to the terms and conditions of their contracts so the U.S. Government receives the performance required.