Saturday, February 14, 2009

The Hand Off

They call it a RIP-TOA. That, of course, is just another army acronym for some army term that is just to long to say out loud, over and over. What is stands for is Relief In Place - Transfer of Authority.

In civilian terms it means replacing one army unit with another in order to seamlessly transfer authority for an ongoing mission without screwing it all up, dropping the ball or losing ground. That's what we are doing now, our RIP-TOA with a National Guard unit made up of Soldiers from Utah and Colorado. They've been handling the public affairs mission here for the last year and now it's time for them to head back to their families and let us take over.

They've done a great job at getting things ready for us and now we're up to bat. We'll sit side by side with them for the next several days, learning the ins and outs of all they have accomplished and set up during their tour, then they go home and we'll run with the ball until we do our RIP-TOA next year.

It's amazing to see the Army from this perspective. To think that we can have a complete changing of the guard during such a critical operation and that the important mission we are tasked with can move forward without a major hitch is pretty amazing.

Already, some of our broadcasters are hard at work making radio spots and putting together stories. Our print journalists are starting to find story leads, design the newspaper and provide valuable public affairs support to our division command, the 1st Cavalry Division. It's a great feeling to see it all come together and watch our train move out of the station, to use a metaphor.

All of it is simply amazing.

Out of all this however, there is a little bit of a cloud over the unit. We started out with 20 Soldiers, and unfortunately, along the way, we lost a few. Nothing too serious, no deaths, just casualties of the mobilization process.

Four of the greatest Soldiers the world will ever know are not here to jump into the mission with us: Sgt. Ebel, Sgt. Taylor, Sgt. Zoeller and Spc. Mitchell. It doesn't matter why they aren't with us, they just aren't and we miss them. They are with us, as they say, in spirit and we want them to know that we feel their thoughts and prayers in everything we do. See you when we get back guys and keep in touch.

Another person not with us, for now at least, is 2Lt. Douglas. She's here in country, but we sent her off to the IZ (international zone) for a position we have to post up there. We miss her too. She's fiesty, she's friendly, and as we learned today, she's a real sweetheart deep inside. She left all our female Soldiers a Valentine's Day card - the kind with hearts and cherubs and sparkly dust on the outside. She plays tough, but we know the truth, she really does like us all.

Come back soon, have fun in your personal palace up there and don't worry about us down here in the ghetto, where we have to walk a mile to get to our showers and latrine. We'll be okay, we can handle it. We know someone had to be sacrificed for the good of the unit and go to the plushest living quarters and dining facilities in the country. Thanks for stepping up into the volunteers' seat. Have fun. Just remember, you eventually have to come back and face the group so practice your poor me look - we're all gullible.

So, that's where we stand for now. We're living the dream as Spc. Alperin says, just living the dream.

1 comment:

David M said...

The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the blog post From the Front: 02/17/2009 News and Personal dispatches from the front and the home front.