Fueling Natural Fire 10
By Spc. Jason Nolte, Combined Joint
Task Force Lion Public Affairs Office
KITGUM, Uganda - When CH-47 Chinook helicopters landed at Pajimo Barracks this week from Entebbe, the event marked a major step forward in the preparation for the Natural Fire 10.
The airlift replaces an eight-hour ride with a two-hour flight – an obvious advantage for exercise participants heading to Kitgum.
But those benefits don’t come without a lot of hard work by the advanced party who prepared the forward site. Soldiers from Bamberg, Germany-based 240th Quartermaster Company set up the “fuel farm.” Nearby, guards from the Ugandan People’s Defense Force, 401st Infantry Brigade, expanded their security perimeter to include the new landing zone.
Setting up a fuel farm posed its challenges, even without the equatorial sun beating down.
“There were a few bumps in the road, but we’ve overcome everything that’s come our way,” said Spc. Joshua Shackleton, a petroleum supply specialist with 240th Quartermaster Company.
Establishing logistics is key for Natural Fire 10. In the coming weeks, the exercise will offer an opportunity for East African Community Partner Nations and the US military to work together on a humanitarian assistance mission. Working together all parties will learn from each other to increase regional capabilities to respond to complex humanitarian emergencies.
The team had to insure fuel quality, prior to the Chinooks arrival. That meant circulating, filtering and testing the fuel in the days before the first airlift. When the first of the mammoth birds touched down, the troops on the ground were prepared.
“It was a first time ever working around Chinooks (running). I almost got knocked down by the gusts,” said Sgt. Richard Hunter, the non-commissioned officer in charge of the fuel farm. “We connected and gave them about 5500 pounds of fuel. It’s what we’re here to do.”
Helicopter crews arrived with more Soldiers and supplies. After unloading and refueling, the Chinooks took to the sky once again, heading back to Entebbe laden with fuel provided by the quartermaster troops.
For Shackleton, the operation was a thrill.
“It’s been an excellent experience for my first time actually setting up a real fuel farm,” Shackleton said. “We’ve done field problems before, but this is the real thing. And I’m just having a blast out here.”
CAPTION: Sgt. Richard Hunter, a Petroleum Supply Specialist with 240th Quartermaster Company, refuels a CH-47 Chinook under the watchful eye of the crew chief from 11th Aviation Kitgum, Uganda, Oct. 7, 2009.
Cleared for public release.
Photos by Rick Scavetta, U.S. Army Africa
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