Top inspector: petroleum quality fights corruption

U.S. Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction John F. Sopko discusses the execution of fuel authentication procedures with Brig. Gen. Paul T. Calvert, deputy commanding general for the 1st Cavalry Division, during his visit to the headquarters of the 201th Corps to observe the execution of fuel quality control steps.
18 May 2017
CAMP GAMBERI, Afghanistan (May 18, 2017) — U.S. Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction John F. Sopko visited the headquarters of Train, Advise, Assist Command – East at Gamberi to observe fuel quality control procedures.

During this visit, his 22nd to Afghanistan, Sopko received a comprehensive briefing about the new procedures Resolute Support has implemented to improve assurance on quality and quantity of fuel delivery to the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces.

"I am impressed with the technical competencies of the U.S. military personnel tasked with implementing fuel collection and testing procedures,” Sopko expressed. "Fraud and theft in the fuel delivery system had been a particular concern to SIGAR, Gen. Nicholson and President Ghani. When fuel is stolen, or when it is of poor quality, this cheats both American taxpayers and our Afghan allies.” 

Bad fuel can also damage expensive equipment such as generators and vehicles. 

RS quality control team developed a Quality Surveillance/Quality Assurance program to verify and validate the quality of fuel being delivered to the ANDSF and to ensure proper allocation based on storage capacities.

"We mentor the ANDSF on the three tiers of petroleum analysis. These steps include a visual test to find dust, rust, paint, metal, rubber, lint and sand; water detection kits; and B2 test which is a partial analysis to verify stability of characteristics susceptible to deterioration due to age, environmental or storage conditions,” explained Chief Warrant Officer Gregory Hughes, fuel testing lead. 

U.S. advisors also visit the sites to validate storage capacities and equipment for more accurate forecast of fuel requirements.

"The ANDSF sites that we have visited have meters to verify the quantity of fuel received,” Hughes said. "Some of them already have the equipment to do the American Petroleum Institute gravity test. This test verifies the type of fuel they are receiving such as diesel or regular gasoline.”

In subsequent discussions with the TAAC-East leadership, Sopko noted points of vulnerability across the fuel delivery cycle such as the lack of visibility below the Corps level due to limited personnel.

"We just do not have eyes on the ground at the brigade level and below. This is a concern not just for the delivery of fuel but more broadly also calls into question our ability to assess the performance of the Afghan forces at the tactical level,” Sopko said.

Brigadier General Paul Calvert, deputy commanding general for the 1st Cavalry Division, echoed his assessment.

"We need to expand our ability to conduct fuel testing at the company level in order to keep the continuity and oversight of fuel operations. This will help us identify storage capacity and receive a greater quantity of samples to assure that war fighters are receiving quality fuel to conduct their combat missions,” Calvert expressed.

Petroleum supply specialists at TAAC-E have visited multiple sites within the last months taking a total of 20 samples from both the vendor and ANDSF storage tanks to validate petroleum quality. The end state is for the ANDSF to becoming self-reliant in the validation of the quality of fuel and to properly order fuel based on storage capacities.

The SIGAR also attended a briefing led by senior leaders from TACC-East to gain ground truth about the TAA mission in order to enhance SIGAR’s upcoming report on Security Sector Lessons Learned.

"I welcome the opportunity to spend time with our forward deployed forces. They have a very difficult job to do and every time I am able to see their work it improves our capacity to make accurate assessments and recommendations,” Sopko concluded. 


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