386th ELRS fuels flight keeps mission flowing
By Staff Sgt. Arielle Vasquez, 386th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
/ Published April 09, 2019
ALI AL SALEM AB, Kuwait --
Often referred to as the life blood of the Air Force, fuels is critical to the overarching mission at Ali Al Salem Air Base, Kuwait.
The 386th Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron Fuels Flight, also known as Petroleum, Oil and Lubricants flight, is tasked with the great responsibility of providing, storing, testing and distributing fuel on the installation.
“Being the largest fuel hub in Kuwait, allows us the opportunity to provide fuel to the air bridge into Iraq, Syria, Jordan and other supporting locations,” said Master Sgt. Jimmy Williams, 386th ELRS fuels management flight superintendent.
A team of 33 Airmen deliver millions of gallons of fuel monthly to tactical aircraft supporting joint and coalition missions in the U.S. Central Command’s area of responsibility.
According to Staff Sgt. Matt Gierak, 386th ELRS non-commissioned officer in charge of fuels operating storage, the flight prides itself on having the only fully operational Fuels Operational Readiness Capability Equipment system in the Air Force. This unique system allows for full working capacity in an expeditionary environment.
In order to fuel the fight, this 24-hour shop must ensure strict standards are upheld to effectively carry out the mission. A major way the flight ensures this on ASAB is through fuel pipeline renovations, which takes place approximately every two years.
“The process at the fuels flight starts at bulk storage, transfers through the pipelines to operating storage,” said Staff Sgt. Seth Hanson, 386th ELRS non-commissioned officer in charge of fuels bulk storage. “Every aircraft that comes and goes on ASAB is supported by us. As a flight, we first ensure there is enough fuel to be able to distribute them in a timely manner to all the aircraft.”
While it may not always be in clear sight, 15,000 feet of pipelines run throughout the base, connecting to the bladder storage facility. The installation’s fuel bladders are capable of storing over two million gallons of Jet Propellant-8 fuel.
“Changing out the pipelines is critical to mission effectiveness here,” said Staff Sgt. Nadaja Bullock, 386th ELRS facility supervisor. “After a certain period of time, the hosing does not remain in top condition for jet fuel transfer. While replacing them, we need to be extremely careful in keeping the fuel clean, ensure there is a continuous flow, as well as preventing any leaks or cracks in the hosing.”
The fuels flight have given themselves a timeline of three weeks to complete the extensive project and are already halfway complete.
Without the POL Airmen behind the scenes, monitoring and controlling fuel from the bladders all the way to the flight line and into an aircraft would be impossible.
“This is my fifth deployment and being at the fuels flight at ASAB has been the busiest by far,” Gierak said. “We are always out here working on a project as well as finding ways to improve our systems. Looking at the big picture, we understand the significant impact we have day in and day out on the overall mission here.”
The hard work of these Airmen has not gone unnoticed since their rotation kicked off.
“Hands down, I would say I have the best fuels flight in the Air Force,” Williams said. “No matter the aircraft nor mission, there is a good chance we put fuel in it. We are truly the tip of the spear in the AOR.”