Soldiers of the 240th Quartermaster Battalion
used their ingenuity and construction skills to make a fueling
facility at an Iraqi training base a safer place to work.
In June 2005, I deployed to Iraq with the 58th Quartermaster
Company, 240th Quartermaster Battalion, 49th Quartermaster
Group, at Fort Lee, Virginia. Our mission was to provide fuel
to five coalition forward operating bases and two Iraqi
The coalition sites that we visited routinely were well developed
by Kellogg Brown & Root (KBR). The Iraqi bases, however,
had only basic fuel tanks with no safeguards. When we first
began delivering fuel to the Iraqi bases, we were told that
the only way to download fuel was to stick the 4-inch hoses
into the tanks and open the valves on the pony pumps. To
do this, a Soldier had to climb on top of the tank and hold
the hose in the tank opening—a very dangerous method
that was definitely not the military standard.
Something had to be done that would provide a long-term fix to this dangerous
situation. We brainstormed how to fix these problems and, after several weeks
of experimentation, developed a plan to construct steps and platforms for safely
traversing the fuel tanks and to fabricate fuel connectors for downloading
the fuel into the tanks. This would be difficult because no materials were
at the sites, which meant starting from scratch with few supplies. We ordered
hoses and connectors and coordinated with KBR to design and construct the steps
The first step was to measure the dimensions of all the tanks and their concrete
pads. A group of noncommissioned officers and enlisted Soldiers from the company
went to the first Iraqi training base to measure all the tanks there. When
they arrived, the team encountered a fueler’s nightmare. No ladders or
steps provided access to the tops of the tanks, so the Soldiers had to jump
to the tops of the tanks from the tops of their fuel trucks. The openings on
top of some of the tanks had no lids. Fuel had been exposed to sandstorms,
animals, and weather, causing contamination and evaporation loss. All of the
tanks had puddles of fuel at their bases, which meant that there was a serious
possibility of leaks. The Soldiers spent all day getting the dimensions for
each tank in the fuel farm and collecting the data needed to fabricate working
systems for safely downloading fuel.
and platforms on these tanks allow
for safer downloading of fuel for Soldiers.
The connectors fabricated by the 58th
Quartermaster Company make the
download not only safer but also easier.
Soldiers, civilians, and KBR employees worked
together to develop several courses of action for fixing the
fuel problems. The
company ordered T and right-angle connectors, hoses, and butterfly
valves and had to fabricate the means of attaching the connectors
to the tank. KBR built wooden stairs for each tank. While installing
the connectors, platforms, and steps, the team made other needed
repairs to the tanks.
We completed the improvements to the tanks in 2 months. A pressure test of the
fuel tanks confirmed that our efforts were successful. Once we had completed
this project, we began improvements on the second Iraqi training base, using
the plans we had developed for the first base to expedite the process. Both sites
are now safe for Soldiers to download fuel and for the Iraqi Security Forces
to refuel their trucks.
Captain Peter A. Caggiano is the Commander of the 58th Quartermaster Company,
240th Quartermaster Battalion, 49th Quartermaster Group, at Fort Lee, Virginia.
He has a B.A. degree in psychology from Georgia College and State University
and is a graduate of the Quartermaster Officer Basic and Advanced Courses and
the Total Army Instructor Course.