NCO Viewpoints from Somalia
Quartermaster Professional Bulletin – Winter 1993
267th Quartermaster Company NCOs comment on petroleum operations
The following are some first-hand observations of noncommissioned officers (NCOs) in the 267th Quartermaster Company, 240th Quartermaster Battalion, after deployment to Operation Restore Hope in Somalia.
While in Somalia, the 267th Quartermaster Company’s main mission was to receive bulk fuel from the Offshore Petroleum Distribution System (OPDS) and the supertanker Osprey. Two products, JPS and MOGAS, were received, stored and issued by bulk and retail. Our actual mission started at the interface between the OPDS and the Inland Petroleum Distribution System (IPDS) where we received millions of gallons of product a week into the tank farm already assembled and operated by the U.S. Marines. We noted many disadvantages with their system, the Amphibious Assault Fuel System (AAFS). Equipment included 174 20,000-gallon collapsible fabric tanks, and that is just the start of the mass numbers of equipment operated and installed. This is a major disadvantage because the Army has a tank farm system called the Tactical Petroleum Terminal (TPT) which holds more product and has less equipment to operate and assemble. The TPT has 18 21,000-gallon collapsible fabric tanks. Although both systems take a large amount of time to assemble, the TPT is much easier.
You do not have to worry about rotating the product forward every day because all you have is 1 210,000-gallon bag to use at a time. In my opinion, the TPT is today’s better choice for the Armed Forces, since it is focused toward fewer personnel required to operate a system which is able to receive, store and issue to a greater demand. Overall, the mission in Somalia was a great success because it was accident-free, equipment was safely operated, and all personnel of various ranks gained rare knowledge that their peers will never experience.- SGT Duane B. Cook.
While serving in Somalia I had a good opportunity to work a very different aspect of my military occupational specialty (MOS). Although it was petroleum-related, it was a different way to handle the fuel. In fuel-handling there are many ways to transport and dispense fuel with many different systems. In Somalia, the 267th Quartermaster Company had the opportunity to do ship-to-shore operations and Inland Petroleum Distribution System (IPDS) operations. The IPDS consisted of a series of “bags” put together in a module consisting of six bags per module. This system was different because it is a Marine Corps system which the Army does not have. With this system, you must move fuel from module to module, which is known as “leap-frogging.”
This is not done in the Army system: the Tactical Petroleum Terminal (TPT), which consists of 18 bags with a capacity of about 3 1/2 million gallons of fuel. In Somalia we had about 157 bags with less capacity. To summarize our mission, fuel came from a ship to the bags. The fuel was filtered and sent to two different destinations: the airport and the tanker trucks for redistribution to different parts of the country . Petroleum has many aspects and this aspect was new and interesting to me. Now I am familiar with it and hope to continue to learn more about the petroleum field.-SGT Lopez S. Mercedes.
As a petroleum supply NCO, I’ve had various opportunities to work with different pieces of petroleum equipment. Throughout my career, there have been many occasions where a certain piece of equipment within the petroleum field did not meet the demands of the job. One in particular is the tank and pump unit (TPU). While serving in an aviation battalion, refueling and defueling with this TPU slowed down the operation. Its inability to defuel because of the extra pieces of equipment required for the operation significantly slowed down the flow of fuel. Overall, the Army should eliminate the TPU from inventory and replace it with a more efficient petroleum tank vehicle, particularly one with defueling capabilities.-SGT Kelvin E. Leaks.