BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan --
The Army’s 82nd and 101st Combat Aviation Brigades completed
a successful aerial asset swap out following a month-long collaboration with
the 455th Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron and loadmasters from both
the 9th Airlift Squadron from Dover Air Force Base, Delaware, and the 22nd
Airlift Squadron from Travis Air Force Base, California April 30 at Bagram
In order for the outgoing unit to redeploy, the incoming
unit and associated equipment must be in place and ready to assume
responsibility. This type of swap out is referred to as RIP/TOA, meaning relief
in place and transfer of authority.
As the only agency able to provide aerial transportation for
helicopters assigned to the 82nd and 101st CABs, the Air Force played an
integral part in RIP/TOA between the units, using a C-5 Super Galaxy aircraft.
“RIP/TOA is simple,” said Senior Master Sgt. Miguel
Rodriguez, 455th ELRS Aerial Port superintendent. “It’s a unit going out and a
unit coming in. The helicopter unit has an operation here at Bagram and the
unit coming in takes over that operation. The reason we [the Air Force] have a
part is because our unit, our transportation career field, is the only one that
moves cargo in and out of the area of responsibility. We’re pretty much FedEx
for the United States Air Force.”
Though the concept is straightforward, putting plans into
practice requires technical proficiency and on occasion, improvisation.
“It’s not always easy,” said Tech. Sgt. Kevin Siclari, 9th
AS loadmaster. “Sometimes you have to make do with what you have. As
loadmasters, we’re looking at the load plans and making sure everything checks
out. We have specific guidance we’re supposed to follow. We’ve been moving
several UH-60s [Black Hawk helicopters] and AH-64s [Apache helicopters] at a
time, but once you know what you’re looking for it’s not too hectic.”
Both the 82nd and 101st CABs provide a range of rotary wing
capabilities including attack and assault, medical evacuation, cargo and
command and control. For Airmen who facilitated the RIP/TOA operation, it’s not
difficult to imagine what rewards their efforts will reap.
“At the end of the
day, without us moving the cargo operations would not be able to continue,”
Rodriguez said. “We’ve got to be able get people and their equipment where they
need to be to accomplish the mission.”
Siclari echoed Rodriguez’s sentiments.
“Just seeing the helicopters moving from place to place you
can definitely see and feel the impact you’re having,” Siclari said. “This is
what we do and we’re glad to do it.”