June 2, 2010

Reserve Soldiers reconnect their skills at Fort Pickett

By Capt. Matt Nowak
Virginia Army Guard Public Affairs

FORT PICKETT, Va. - Army Reserve Soldiers from Texas and Pennsylvania trained  on petroleum pipeline specialties at Fort Pickett during their annual training, May 16-27.

 

Army Reserve Soldiers from the 363rd Quartermaster Battalion (Petroleum Pipeline) train on their job specialties at Fort Pickett during their annual training, May 16-27. Soldiers are responsible to maintain over 20 miles of simulated petroleum pipeline and 6 pumping stations during their time at Fort Pickett. The 363rd is from San Marcos, Texas and serves as the higher headquarters for the 141st Quarter Master Company from Tyler, Texas and the 347th Quartermaster Company from Farrell, Penn. (Photo by Capt. Matt Nowak, Virginia National Guard Public Affairs)

Click HERE to see more photos of the training.

The San Marcos, Texas,  based 363rd Quartermaster Battalion (Petroleum Pipeline) served as the higher headquarters for the 141st Quartermaster Company from Tyler, Texas, and the 347th Quartermaster Company from Farrell, Penn.

During a rotation, each company is given a “real world” scenario where Soldiers are tasked with watching over 20 miles of pipeline and four pumping stations. Soldiers will have to react to broken sections of pipeline or problems within the system along with routine maintenance during the training. The pipeline uses water to simulate petroleum.

In the scenario, civilian trainers broke open a section of pipe to determine how the Soldiers will react to diagnose the problem. The first time the pipeline is broken is in a very easy to spot section and Soldiers are able to repair the broken section quickly. The second time is usually in wooded area that is not easy to spot from the road and can take a while to find.

Once the pipe is broken, a central dispatcher calls out to each station to check for pressure on their gauges and report back. They will go through a series of checks to trouble shoot the problem. First in the list is to check the gauges from one pumping station to the next. If the pressure drops at one station and not another then the problem in the pipeline could be between the stations. Once it is determined, a team is sent out to do visual inspection. If not found immediately, the trouble shooting continues and walking the length of the line may be necessary. This could take from a few minutes to a few hours.

 

Army Reserve Soldiers from the 363rd Quartermaster Battalion (Petroleum Pipeline) train on their job specialties at Fort Pickett during their annual training, May 16-27. FORSCOM Petroleum Training Module cadre provide training and support to the units that participate in the training. The FPTM cadre give a refresher course to the Soldiers prior to operating the pipeline and provide guidance to the Soldiers and unit’s leaders. Fort Pickett is the only place in the world where petroleum pipeline training occurs. (Photo by Capt. Matt Nowak, Virginia National Guard Public Affairs)

Click HERE to see more photos of the training.

If not found, commanders at the other end of the pipeline will not be able to use the petroleum for combat operations or thousands of gallons of petroleum will be wasted on the ground causing an environmental hazard.

“In a deployed environment, each company might be responsible for to 90 miles of pipeline and six pumping stations,” said Maj. Gilbert Buentello, the 363rd’s executive officer. “In this exercise they only have 20 miles of pipeline to manage, as the training goes on we throw some of the more major issues with managing the pipeline and make it a little more difficult to find the issues.”

This was the first time training as a petroleum pipeline unit for the 363rd. It converted from a quartermaster unit to a pipeline unit in October 2009.  Lt. Col. James Davis, the battalion commander, praised all the Soldiers who participated in the training at Fort Pickett.

“They are finding the breaks and doing what they are supposed to do,” Davis said. “Laughing and smiling has continued throughout the training, morale is good.”

Cadre from the U.S. Army Forces Command  Petroleum Training Module  provide training and support to the units that participate in the training. The FPTM cadre give a refresher course to the Soldiers prior to operating the pipeline and provide guidance to the Soldiers and unit leaders.
Each unit is filled with the military occupation specialty designator 92F, petroleum supply specialist, which is responsible for supervising and managing the reception, storage and shipping of bulk or packaged petroleum-based products.

Fort Pickett is one of two locations where Army petroleum pipeline training occurs. There are only a handful of petroleum pipeline battalions across the entire Army. For the last 21 years, Army Engineers also participate in the training scenario by setting up the pipeline in April and taking it down in October.

Pipelines are only issued in a time of war and these units may be called upon to perform this work for current operations around the world.

The battalion also took advantage of other training Fort Pickett had to offer. Soldiers were able to conduct weapons qualification and used a variety of simulators and trainers at the installation.

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