By Army Capt. Jeffrey Witherspoon
Special to American Forces Press Service
Jan. 27, 2010 - Soldiers of the 121st Brigade Support Battalion are training the Iraqi army's 10th Motorized Transport Regiment to operate the Iraqi unit's new fuel tankers. Prior to receiving 15 new tankers, officials of the Iraqi unit requested training from the U.S. Army battalion's logistics training and advisory team. The team serves as a bridge between Iraqi and U.S. forces and synchronizes training in an effort to increase the Iraqi army's ability to sustain itself.
Army Sgt. 1st Class Jason Tellez, the team's lead noncommissioned officer, along with petroleum experts from the battalion's distribution company, contacted the CEO of the tankers' manufacturer, International Trucks, and collected manuals and schematics to assist in conducting the training.
The tankers arrived with all the basic issue items, Tellez said, but the technical manuals were in English. The training team had the manuals translated into Arabic and, together with the battalion's fuel specialists, focused on establishing a permanent fuel handler's course in conjunction with the new equipment training.
Before beginning the instruction, the U.S. soldiers helped the Iraqis learn to park the vehicles properly. This allowed the team to teach safety considerations when staging fuel tankers in a consolidated area.
Because no baseline Iraqi field manual existed for fuel operations, the team referred to the U.S. Army standards. They covered optimal and minimum distances between parked vehicles, grounding, parking vehicles away from electrical lines and sources, ways of capturing and avoiding spills to prevent fires, and leaving clear lanes to each tanker for fire control personnel and equipment.
Once the vehicles were parked correctly and all safety considerations had been addressed, instructors focused on the functional parts of the fuel tankers.
Tellez, a former instructor from the Army's Quartermaster Center and School, demonstrated the proper preventive maintenance checks and service procedures for the vehicles while honing in on identifying specific types of leaks. Even a small fuel leak on a tanker could lead to a catastrophic fire, Tellez noted.
The tankers have dual hoses, allowing for fueling from either side. The hoses were unrolled, and the operators were taught how to check for cracks, cuts and dry rot. The instructors highlighted that, with the pressure of fuel pumping through the hose, a hole or cut could result in large amounts of fuel spillage and a hazardous-materials nightmare.
The instructors also covered "refuel on the move" procedures, which extend the time forces can spend on an objective.
(Army Capt. Jeffrey Witherspoon serves with the 121st Brigade Support Battalion.)