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Air Force facilitates Army RIP/TOA

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Whitney Amstutz
  • 455th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

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 Airfield, Afghanistan.

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.”