My Army Bulk Fuels Accountable Officer Experience During KFOR8

During my deployment to Kosovo as part of KFOR8 (with the Maryland Army National Guard), I had the opportunity to serve as the Bulk Fuels Accountable Officer at Camp Bondsteel, Kosovo.  Prior to taking this duty position I had worked as the Supply Support Activity Accountable Officer.  When a Warrant Officer finally got assigned to our unit, she took over my SSA Accountable Officer position and I moved over to the Bulk Fuels Accountable Officer Job.

This job was very different from most of my prior Army experiences.  Up until that time, I had never dealt with fuel, even though I was qualified as a Quartermaster Officer.  During my QM Officer Basic Course we did a few days (maybe a week) worth of fuel training, but that was seven years earlier and I was a bit rusty.

Fortunately, I didn’t have to be an expert right away.  I had the opportunity to work with KBR (Kellogg, Brown and Root).  The KBR supervisor was Richard.  He was a former Air Force NCO and when it came to fuels, he was a stud!  To this day, I still think very highly of him.  He managed the U.S. and Host Country National contractors (about 50 people) on a day-to-day basis, while my Army staff (2 NCOs) tested the fuel.  As the Bulk Fuels Accountable Officer I signed for everything and ultimately “accountable” for anything had happened or failed to happen.

I can say that right from the beginning it was a big operation.  Camp Bondsteel is a fairly good sized base and we supported a lot of units.  We had approximately 1/2 million gallons of fuel stored on site (I don’t remember the exact amount).  We had diesel fuel, JP8 and JP4.  We even had a small amount of MOGAS.  We used large blivets and also had some storage tanks.  Everything was well organized and flowed smoothly.  I can thank the previous rotations and KBR for that.

Bulk Fuels Accountable Officer Job Description

Here is a sample job description for a Bulk Fuels Accountable Officer, right from my old OER.

Serves as the Bulk Fuels Accountable Officer (BFAO) for a deployed Multi-National Task Force consisting of 2,500 Soldiers; Responsible to receive, store, and issue fuel in Hungary, Kosovo and Macedonia; Responsible for forecasting future fuel requirements; Conducts end-of-month inventories; Assists the G4 Plans Officer with Petroleum matters for Annex I (Service and Support); Ensures compliance with all OSHA and EPA Regulations; Ensures test fuel samples are in compliance with ASTM test methods; Serves as Contract Officer Representative (COR) for the USC Contract, PWS 5.1.3.1 Fuel Services; Supervises 2 Soldiers and 50 contractors.

More of My Story

What made my job challenging was that I had fuel sites in three different countries.  We had a location in Macedonia, one in Kosovo and one in Hungary.  Toward the end of my deployment, we shut down the other two locations.  Fortunately, Macedonia was about an hour’s drive away and Hungary was a direct flight.  While that did create some logistical nightmares, it also gave me the opportunity to travel more than my counterparts could.  I went to Hungary three times (I believe) and enjoyed the travel.  There’s nothing like “getting out of the wire” when you have been caged in for so long.

During my tenure our section processed more than 7 million gallons of fuel without incident or injury.  I am proud of that.  I think the experience also helped me be a better Company Commander later on, because the unit I commanded had a fuel element in it.

I’d like to take a moment and share a few valuable lessons that I learned while serving as the Bulk Fuels Accountable Officer:

1.  The Army won’t last long without fuel.  Like it or not, the war-fighters wouldn’t make it very long without fuel.  Sure, it isn’t glamorous, but fuel is very important in combat and peacekeeping operations.

2.  There is a lot of behind the scenes work managing fuel.  To the end user, logistics looks pretty easy and simple.  However, there is a lot of planning, coordinating and resourcing when you manage a large amount of fuel (or logistics).

3.  Maintaining accountability for millions of dollars worth of Army property is a fun responsibility.  I’ve always like responsibility.  There’s nothing like being responsible for millions of dollars worth of stuff and getting the opportunity to prove that you are a capable, responsible leader.

4.  You can’t succeed without a good team.  The success of my team had little to do with me personally and a lot to do with my NCOs and the KBR staff.  I was very fortunate to have a great support team.  I simply rewarded them for their efforts, made sure they had the resources they needed, and made sure they felt appreciated.  Other than that, I stayed out of their way!

Final Thoughts

In summary, my experience as an Army Bulk Fuels Accountable Officer during my KFOR8 deployment was very educational, challenging and fun.  If you are serving in the logistical field and you ever get a chance to supervise Army Fuel Operations, I would highly recommend it.  It’s an important job that requires good leaders and technicians.

If you have any questions about this subject, or any other things about the Army, feel free to contact me and I will do my best to provide an answer.

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Thanks for Your Service,

Chuck Holmes

SKYPE: mrchuckholmes
(352) 503-4816 home office
Email: chuck@part-time-commander.com

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8 thoughts on “My Army Bulk Fuels Accountable Officer Experience During KFOR8

  1. Scott

    I spent a year as a Fuel Officer too and I learned a lot in that job. It’s actually much more complicated than people realize, especially when you are dealing with millions of gallons of fuel.

    Reply
    1. Candace Ginestar

      Managing a fuel budget is interesting stuff. There is a LOT of money that goes into fuel budgets. I got to manage fuels for aviation, and it was more than just dollars. Reconciling those accounts was not the most fun if there was a discrepancy.

      Reply
  2. Justin Long

    Chuck I always love hearing stories of Soldiers and their experience in Kosovo. I particularly like your perspective of the Fuel Officer experience. You are right, without fuel we are toast. I always take for granted every time the fuelers roll up, top me off and drive off. I actually get a bit upset when they aren’t on time and it messes up my schedule, but I fail to remember all that goes into the logistics behind it. It’s one of those things that you appreciate only when it’s not there…on time. Thanks for your insight. I will always keep that in mind next time I am on the range waiting or starting up an Abrams (which burns about 17-20 gals of fuel just starting up!)

    Reply
    1. Charles Holmes Post author

      Thanks for the comment, Justin.

      Tanks do burn a lot of fuel. Next time the fuelers fill your tanks up, tip your Stetson hat at them and give them an atta’ boy. I’m sure they will appreciate it.

      Chuck

      Reply
    2. Candace Ginestar

      Justin, you bring up a good point here. One thing I always stressed to my platoon, especially the CL III section, was that they were to ALWAYS meet their time hacks. If they had to start their shifts early to make sure they were on time, then that’s fine. When doing gunnery tables, time is of the essence and we want to help them succeed, instead of hindering.

      Reply

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