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Bulk Petroleum Manning Requirements in an ESC

The 3d Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) (3d ESC) has recommended that the Army Combined Arms Support Command change the manning authorizations of the bulk petroleum section of the ESC’s supply and services branch. The ESC made this request because its modification table of organization and equipment (MTOE) does not adequately correspond to its operational demands.

During Operation Iraqi Freedom, the 3d ESC’s class IIIB (bulk petroleum) section operated under the doctrinal requirements for a theater sustainment command petroleum section. It was responsible for planning, synchronizing, and coordinating all external fuel support through the command and control of five sustainment brigades, managing fuel distribution in Iraq by balancing the existing distribution capabilities to meet current and projected operational requirements, and ultimately providing up to 2 million gallons of bulk petroleum daily to deployed units.

The ESC’s bulk petroleum team coordinated daily with the mobility sections, the movement control battalion, the sustainment brigades, the sub-area petroleum officer (forward), the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) Joint Petroleum Office, the Multi-National Corps-Iraq C–4, the Defense Energy Support Center, and several other fuel-community entities. This ensured the continuity of fuel distribution and management.

The section was also responsible for conducting site visits to ensure that accurate procedures were being followed at the bulk petroleum farms throughout Iraq. Personnel had to be on site when required by the ESC support operations officer, the commanding general, and on occasion, at the specific request of the CENTCOM joint petroleum officer to guarantee petroleum operations were conducted suitably.

Simultaneously, construction of bolted-steel tank facilities was in progress at two of the direct support locations, Joint Base Balad and Contingency Operating Base (COB) Speicher. The projects required visits from a subject-matter expert from the bulk petroleum section who could fully understand the proposed construction and ensure that it would be sufficient for bulk fuel farm operations. The projects also kept the section engaged with Logistics Civil Augmentation Program contractors to ensure that the mission was completed with the desired equipment. This mission later included overseeing construction of a bulk fuel farm at COB Basra that supported Multi-National Division-South as it moved its headquarters.

Other requirements that reduced staff availability in the bulk petroleum section were obligations to participate in the annual fuels conference and rest and recuperation leave. To reduce some burden on the section, bulk water duties were shifted to the class I (subsistence) section since water production and consumption fell under the class I realm of responsibility.

According to the MTOE, the ESC’s bulk petroleum section staff should include a captain as the petroleum officer, a sergeant first class as the petroleum supply sergeant, and a staff sergeant as a water treatment supervisor. The MTOE also calls for a major to be the supply management officer; however, in the MTOE this position belongs to the supply and services branch and not directly to the bulk petroleum section.

Because of the size of the area of responsibility and the number of forces being supported in Iraq, the force authorized to the section by the MTOE was inadequate for success. The ESC’s bulk petroleum section assumed additional personnel, including a warrant officer petroleum technician, who by the MTOE was assigned to the distribution integrations branch.

The branch had been established within the support operations section to synchronize requirements between the commodities and their final destinations. However, the ESC found that having the subject-matter experts in the distribution integrations branch instead of assigned to specified commodities had disadvantages. The bulk petroleum section also received automated logistical specialist Soldiers, in the ranks of sergeant first class and staff sergeant, from other sections to guarantee success.

The vast number of daily missions proved to require a lieutenant colonel, a major, a captain, a petroleum technician, and four petroleum supply specialists (one master sergeant, two sergeants first class, and one staff sergeant) to successfully achieve the bulk petroleum mission. I propose that before any more ESCs perform expeditionary missions, their MTOEs be changed to ensure that the distribution of fuel, the most critical supply commodity, is not interrupted.

Captain Shari S. Bowen was the petroleum supply officer in charge of the class III (bulk petroleum) section of the 3d Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) when she wrote this article. She holds a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Maryland and a master’s degree in instructional technology from American InterContinental University and is pursuing a doctorate of management in organizational leadership from the University of Phoenix. She is a graduate of the Quartermaster Officer Basic Course.


 
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