Forward Area Refueling Point tryouts test Airmen for special operations

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Peter Reft
  • 18th Wing Public Affairs

Forward Area Refueling Point team members held their biannual tryouts for 18th Logistics Readiness Squadron Airmen at their fuels compound Jan. 17, 2020.

Airmen of the 18th LRS petroleum, oil and lubricant flight bear the responsibility of refueling aircraft for hundreds of sorties at Kadena Air Base, and FARP assists with Air Force Special Operations refueling around the world.

"We're one of only a few bases that support Air Force Special Operations Command FARP teams, and it's a very small, tightly-knit community," said Staff Sgt. Chandler Nowell, FARP team member. "We're able to go out and do forward area refueling from a C-130, something normal POL doesn't do."

For their specialized job, typically under the cover of darkness and in austere environments, Airmen must meet unique physical and mental demands of rapidly refueling military aircraft.

"Tryouts are necessary because this a very physically demanding special operation in itself," said Nowell. "What we want to see is if they actually have the capability of completing it and continuing on afterward."

The event consisted of dragging out a 300-ft. hose, pulling a specialized squeegee down the entire length, rolling up a fuel hose, carrying it back across the field, holding up another 90-pound hose bundle overhead with outstretched arms, and finishing with twenty pushups.

"This simulates an actual FARP, and we want this team to not only be able to finish the mission, but also reengage if something unexpected comes up," added Nowell. "Not everybody that passes a normal Air Force fitness test can also make it through this test."

Training themselves to be ready for the unexpected is necessary for FARP members to meet not only AFSOC needs, but also that of joint and allied forces with forward area refueling mission requirements in combat zones.

"What we bring to the table is being able to set up refueling capability at any airfield in the world," said Tech. Sgt. Christopher Marshall, FARP team non-commissioned officer in charge. "We can refuel helicopters downrange and get them back in the fight as soon as possible."

FARP Airmen bring specialized capabilities to any fight, and the 353rd Special Operations Group C-130Js fly them to any airfield in the world. Together, the 18th Wing and AFSOC provide mission commanders a broader set of tactics to increase joint lethality and enhance agile combat employment.