POL: Keeping the Pack ready, fast, lethal

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Jovan Banks
  • 8th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

U.S. Air Force maintainers ensure aircraft are in good working order to deliver airpower wherever called upon, but no jet gets off the ground without a full tank of gas. 

The 8th Logistics Readiness Squadron’s fuels management flight, more commonly known as POL (petroleum, oils and lubricants) keeps the Wolf Pack’s fleet of F-16 Fighting Falcons energized by delivering 11 million gallons of fuel that supports over 5,500 sorties annually.

“POL does more than ‘just pump gas’, we are the lifeblood that sustains airpower,” said Master Sgt. Christian Crider, 8th LRS fuels information service center section chief. “Our responsibilities include tasks such as fuel storage, accounting, quality control, and distribution just to name a few; all of which are integral to seamless mission support.”

F-16s have an internal fuel capacity of about 7,000 lbs. Under normal conditions, it is no easy feat to get the jet fueled and back into the fight, but the 8th LRS takes the challenge a step further, often conducting integrated combat turns (ICT) and hot refueling operations to sharpen their agile combat skills.

“ICT is the process of providing fuel services, munitions loading and unloading, and aircraft reconfigurations simultaneously,” said Senior Airman Nathan Lester, 8th LRS fuels distribution operator. “This process minimizes the amount of time between landing and relaunching of an aircraft and is a huge success in increasing our capabilities.”

The team’s skills have been rigorously tested in recent months, as they supported various exercises that called for them to adjust to working in unfamiliar environments and tasked them to receive and refuel airframes not assigned to the 8th FW during bilateral operations.

“Supporting jets in locations other than Kunsan forces us to adapt to different infrastructure, logistical constraints, and local regulations,” said Crider. “And when supporting jets other than F-16s that land at Kunsan for refueling, we have to work closely with the visiting aircraft's crew to ensure compatibility with their specific fuel requirements so we can conduct safe and efficient refueling operations.”

But POL’s scope of responsibility goes beyond jets. The flight is charged to  manage and deliver fuel across the installation for countless vehicles used to transport equipment, personnel and other assets. POL Airmen work around the clock, touching every part of the mission. 

“There are a lot of moving parts when it comes to our daily ops,” said Lester. “Maintaining trucks, inspection of fuel, scheduling manning to meet mission needs - all of these things and much more need to be considered daily.

Lester mentioned that 8th LRS fuels management is not an available assignment for new Airmen, giving his team the unique perk of bringing on experienced team members that undoubtedly helps with the rapid turnover of a short tour.

“We have an amazing team that I’m lucky to be a part of,” said Crider. “Our Airmen take pride in being a critical part of the wing's operations, knowing that POL fuels the fight and supports the Wolf Pack's capability, lethality, and readiness to confront any situation.”