Story by Petty Officer 2nd Class Vaughan Dill, Navy Public Affairs Support Element, Det. Northwest
MANCHESTER, Wash. – Naval Supply Systems Command Fleet Logistics Center (NAVSUP FLC) Puget Sound and the U. S. Army 475th Quartermaster Group and the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) conducted a convoy training exercise known as the Quartermaster Logistics Liquid Exercise (QLLEX) 2017 at the Manchester Fuel Depot July 17 – 24.
QLLEX is an annual exercise for Army Reserve units to train for their wartime mission of providing petroleum and water to units worldwide. This year’s exercise had convoys of Army trucks, based out of Joint Base Lewis-McCord (JBLM), transporting fuel, provided by NAVSUP FLC Puget Sound’s Manchester Fuel Depot, to military installations around Puget Sound and throughout western Washington.
“These guys run their missions all the time, hauling fuel from here down to Whidbey Island, McChord and Fort Lewis,” said 475th Quartermaster Group Command 1st Sgt. Marshall Ellis. “Once a year, all over the country we take over for two weeks by running these missions for them. The mission stays exactly the same; it provides our guys the opportunity to train for our wartime mission.”
QLLEX was hosted by the 475th Quartermaster Group, based out of Farrell, Pa., and serves as the largest field training exercise of its kind with real-world logistic operations at the tactical, operational, and strategic level.
“The mission is to haul fuel,” said Capt. Jacob Wood, Company Commander. “During the two week period that we are here to train, they turn off some of the civilian contracts that typically haul fuel in the area, and we take on those missions. Our company is a medium truck company with 7.5k tankers and we’re bulk fuel haulers, so basically we fill up bulk fuel and deliver it to the end line customer.”
QLLEX began as the Petroleum Oil and Lubricant Exercise (POLEX) 31 years ago with the initial focus on petroleum, oils, and lubricants. In 2004 it evolved into QLLEX, with a broader focus, becoming a multi-echelon, multi-component, multi-functional, and multi-service exercise. No other CONUS based exercise provides such a broad suite of real-world training opportunities for Soldiers.
NAVSUP FLC fuel operators manned the pumps at the fueling station that was set up for filling up tanker trucks, and conducted training with the Soldiers. During the exercise, approximately 500,000 gallons of fuel were transferred from Manchester Fuel Depot to various sites throughout the state.
“The big thing is,” said Wood, “we get to drive our trucks all the time, we drive them bobtail, we drive them empty, but we don’t get the opportunity to drive with fuel very often. There are a lot of regulations; we can’t just go pick up fuel on a drill weekend, so this is really the only type of exercise we can do that our guys actually get to drive with a full tanker going down the road.”
Each day during the exercise, convoys of four to ten vehicles transported fuel from Manchester Fuel Depot to sites throughout the Pacific Northwest, including JBLM and Naval Air Station Whidbey Island. For safety, some sections of road were be managed by military traffic control personnel while the convoys drove through, but roads remained open to regular traffic.
“When we’re not doing an exercise like this we continue to train,” said Wood. “It’s different driving a truck down the road with no fuel as opposed to being full. The fuel sloshes around, and the load is constantly shifting. We still do a lot of driving; we just don’t get the added experience of having a full tanker often.”
NAVSUP FLC Puget Sound, one of eight fleet logistics centers under NAVSUP GLS, provides operational logistics, business and support services to Navy, Coast Guard, Military Sealift Command, and other Joint and Allied Forces. Products and services include contracting, fuels, global logistics, hazardous material management, household goods, integrated logistics support, material management, postal, regional transportation and warehousing.