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New fuels course graduates first class

Airmen cover start-up procedures for refueling equipment Jan. 31, 2012 during the new Fuels Operational Readiness Capability Equipment (FORCE) training course taught by the 364th Training Squadron at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas.  FORCE training looks at the fuels equipment of the future currently only being used in deployed locations. (U.S. Air Force photo/Frank Carter)

Airmen cover start-up procedures for refueling equipment Jan. 31, 2012, at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, during the new Fuels Operational Readiness Capability Equipment training course. FORCE training looks at the fuels equipment of the future currently only being used in deployed locations. (U.S. Air Force photo/Frank Carter)

Airmen practice shut down procedures on refueling equipment Jan. 31, 2012 during the new Fuels Operational Readiness Capability Equipment (FORCE) training course taught by the 364th Training Squadron at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas.  FORCE training looks at the fuels equipment of the future currently only being used in deployed locations. (U.S. Air Force photo/Frank Carter)

Airmen practice shut-down procedures on refueling equipment Jan. 31, 2012, at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, during the new Fuels Operational Readiness Capability Equipment training course. FORCE training looks at the fuels equipment of the future currently only being used in deployed locations. (U.S. Air Force photo/Frank Carter)

SHEPPARD AIR FORCE BASE, Texas (AFNS) -- A new fuels training course developed by 364th Training Squadron members here officially started Jan. 23 and graduated its first students Feb. 3.

The Fuels Operational Readiness Capability Equipment Course is designed to teach fuels specialists about new equipment currently being in deployed locations. The main focus is teaching students how to properly operate and troubleshoot the equipment before issues arise, while engineering emerging technology solutions for technical problems as needed.

"We have a lot of new equipment being used downrange without the benefit of people who are fully trained on how to fully operate or problem solve the equipment," said Staff Sgt. Clayton Kitts, the 364th TRS FORCE course developer and instructor. "Originally, it was thought we could teach the equipment out in the field, but that proved difficult due to the technology we have applied. Formalizing the course gives us a chance to provide the right instruction on how to best use our assets."

Kitts said one of the major reasons for the training course being developed was the lack of knowledge in how to deal with setbacks caused by the austere operating environment for the new equipment experienced downrange.

"A lot of damage has happened," he said. "We didn't have the skill sets to fix it, and we've had injuries from people not setting up the equipment properly, so we need this training."

Mission speed is also a big factor in how the new equipment is helpful downrange.

"The (fuels) equipment's new technology increases our pump speeds," Kitts said. "This increases our capability to offload faster from our tank trucks and remote storage tanks and transfer it to the flightline."

Upon completion of the course, students are also awarded a Special Experience Identifier. The SEI allows unit commanders and supervisors to place Airmen in duty positions to best maximize their specific skill sets obtained through specialized training.

For Tech. Sgt. Howell G. Palmer III, on temporary duty from MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., adjusting to and training on new technology is important for the career field's future.

"FORCE is new to the Air Force; a lot of people don't understand it," Palmer said. "It's a lot more technologically advanced and has a bigger, broader capability. Being new to the career field, everybody needs to come here because it's going to take us into the future."

Kitts agreed with Palmer's sentiment and looks forward to the future of fuels maintenance.

"This equipment is new ... the future," said Kitts. "Our fuels personnel will not be stuck in the dark ages when they deploy."

Airman 1st Class James Koebel, a fuels distribution specialist attending the class from Ramstein Air Base, Germany, was glad to be able to train and get the knowledge necessary to complete the deployed mission.

"When I deploy, I am going to know what I'm doing, which is a relief," Koebel said. "There's more of a sense of I know what the job is going to be ... what the purpose is, which is a relief."

The 364th TRS develops and trains aircraft support operational training for more than 3,700 personnel from across the services annually. Students come from the Air Force and international military, along with civilians from the Department of Defense.

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