366th fuels course to move to Virginia for joint training

Staff Sgt. Michael Mizikar IV from Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, conducts a particle assessment analysis on a JP-8 fuel sample during a fuels course at the 366th Training Squadron. The fuels quality control course at the squadron is relocating to Fort Lee, Va., where the Air Force, Army and Marines will train in a joint environment. (U.S. Air Force photo/Harry Tonemah)

Staff Sgt. Michael Mizikar IV from Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, conducts a particle assessment analysis on a JP-8 fuel sample during a fuels course at the 366th Training Squadron. The fuels quality control course at the squadron is relocating to Fort Lee, Va., where the Air Force, Army and Marines will train in a joint environment. (U.S. Air Force photo/Harry Tonemah)

SHEPPARD AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- The 366th Training Squadron's Fuels Training Flight is embarking on a mission change that conforms nicely to words and phrases espoused by the Air Staff like "interdependence," "joint warfighting capabilities" and "working as part of the Joint team." 

How so? Sometime around February, two or three members of the Sheppard fuels training flight will begin working as fuels quality control course instructors in a joint training environment at Fort Lee, Va., providing training for Air Force, Army and Marine Corps personnel. The course instructs personnel on how to sample and analyze fuel to ensure that it meets Air Force and DoD specifications, said Master Sgt. William Brown, 366th TRS fuels career field training manager. 

The move provides the fuels training flight here with the opportunity to once again embrace the Air Force's and DoD's ongoing transformation to a more integrated joint operating force. 

Sergeant Brown said the Defense Energy Support Center originally requested that fuels career field leadership and the 366th TRS look at the feasibility of consolidating fuels quality control training for the DoD. Basically, could they consolidate with the Army and Marines and train jointly? 

The answer, of course, was yes. 

"We fight jointly; we need to train jointly," said Sergeant Brown, who mentioned that this is the second course the fuels training flight has gone "joint" with, citing an impending November transition that will consolidate cryogenics production training at Marine Corps Air Station, Cherry Point, N.C. 

Besides benefits that will be derived from combining fuels quality control training operations into a joint training environment, the move also frees some valuable real estate within the fuels training flight here. 

"This gives us some much-needed room to expand," said Sergeant Brown. He went on to explain that there were times when the staff wondered where they were going to fit all of the students during particularly busy training periods. 

The move to consolidate at Fort Lee, versus bringing more students here, was logical for another reason, said Capt. Majken Tutty, 366th TRS fuels training flight commander. 

"The Army and the Marines are already training (at Fort Lee)," she said. "It made sense to move one service instead of bringing two here." 

Sergeant Brown said about 120 students receive fuels quality control training annually. That number, he said, will remain the same when training begins at Fort Lee next year. The curriculum there is "almost identical to what we teach," he added. 

The Sheppard instructors assigned to the Virginia post will not be operating at a designated Sheppard detachment, but will be part of Operating Location B, 366th TRS. They will remain directly under Sheppard supervision and leadership. 

Captain Tutty said the instructors selected to go to Fort Lee will do a great job. 

"They are strong leaders, as well as tremendous instructors," she said. "It will be a smooth transition." 

Meanwhile, the fuels training flight here will continue to be a vital and extremely productive part of the Sheppard training landscape. Sergeant Brown said about 35 instructors here train nearly 600 students annually in the fuels basic course. Another 400 students go through 7-level school each year, while an additional 100 complete the cryotainer maintenance and support equipment class. 

Captain Tutty said that she and other members of her staff continually emphasize to the young students in the fuels basic course here "that someday, we'll be working side-by-side with other services." Now, all of them can point to Fort Lee and Cherry Point as perfect examples.