By Sgt. Travis Zielinski, 1st ACB, 1st Cav. Div. PAOMay 29, 2009
CAMP TAJI, Iraq - A great amount of knowledge of the surrounding area and operational success is gained by a unit when it is deployed to Iraq for a year.
Before the transfer of authority between the incoming and outgoing units takes place, there is a short time period where this critical information and lessons learned are exchanged. This time period is known as relief in place, or RIP.
For the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, Multi-National Division - Baghdad, the amount of information being passed along from the 4th Combat Aviation Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, is a large amount, given the size of the air space 4th CAB covered around Baghdad.
"I think it is important for the [1st ACB] guys to get with our pilots that are flying on a daily basis so they can learn the hot spots of the area, some of the things we see as risks ... and see how we have (ran) this mission for the past year. We have been very succesful," said Captain Erin Braswell, from Houston, the commander for Company C "Medevac," 2nd Battalion, 4th CAB.
Until the transfer of authority takes place, 4th CAB still has control of the mission in MND - B.
Our main focus, as aviators, is to draw from the pool of knowledge 4th CAB has gained from their deployment over the last year, said Capt. Alec Finley, from Pensicola, Fla., commander of Co. C "Medevac," 2nd Bn., 1st ACB.
Because the pace of combat has slowed down quite considerably since our last deployment, veterans that are returning to Taji don't really know what to expect, said Finley.
But 4th CAB has been here for the last 12 months and it is their knowledge that will get 1st ACB through the transition.
"After TOA, if there are improvments that we think need to be made on certain things, we will change them, but I think the main point right now (is to understand) that 4th CAB has been doing it this way for a reason and they have been at it for a year now," said Finley. "I think they have a pretty good thing going."
Along with the information the 4th CAB will be sharing, they are also transfering aircraft to the 1st ACB during the RIP.
"It is important for the Technical Inspectors from each unit to work together to get the aircraft transferred," said Staff Sgt. Marvin Christy, from Dayton, Texas, a T.I. in Co. D, 1st Bn., 4th CAB.
Technical inspectors ensure the quality of work being done on the aircraft and are custodians of the extensive paperwork that shows the airworthiness of the helicopters.
"We work together to go through the entire airframe to see if any faults on the aircraft are on the books, to see if there are any critical issues and any flight issues," said Christy.
"Once we are finished on the aircraft, we will go back to the office and go through the historical records to make sure all of the paper work is correct there," he said. "This is a necessary step for continuity before we hand over the aircraft."
For the 1st ACB, it is important to get a good idea of problems that could arise with the aircraft.
"Finding any deficencies with the aircraft and getting them fixed before the aircraft transfer is important," said Staff Sgt. Dunstin Kamrowski, from Galesburg Mich., a T.I. in Co. D, 4th Bn., 1st ACB.
"The aircraft are in pretty good shape for being out here as long as they have, the hours they have flown and the mission that they had," said Kamrowski.
For the 4th CAB, it has been a long year and now going home is just around the corner.
"We are excited to see the Cav. guys coming in with such enthusiasm and chomping at the bit to do this mission," said Braswell.
However, it is bitter sweet giving up the mission after spending a year ironing out the kinks and doing it succesfully, but it was nice to see 1st Cav. patches come in, she said.
With a tenacity to do their job, the Soldiers of the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade are just waiting for their chance to run operations.
"I am absolutley looking forward to grabbing the reigns and taking over, I live for this," said Kamrowski.