26 November 2010

Transitions, Transitions

Benjamin Franklin once famously said, "Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days."

The same thing goes for replacement troops.

When the new guys come to town to take over a mission, the Army calls it a "RIP-TOA" (pronounced "rip-towah"). The conjoined-acronym stands for a "Relief in Place" and "Transfer of Authority."

In theory, there's supposed to be plenty of time scheduled for a "left-seat, right-seat" ride, when the old guys show the new guys around. They drive their successors around for a few days, introducing them to the people with whom they'll be working. Then, they take the proverbial right-hand seat, answering any remaining questions, and let the new guy drive.

In practice, however, there's not always time enough for a good transition. The Army Transportation Fairy is a fickle beast, for example. There are plenty of war stories about replacements shaking hands with their predecessors while passing on the tarmac. One gets off the aircraft, the other gets on. Sometimes, they don't meet at all.

Of course, you can have too much togetherness, too.

"It's like having family over for an extended holiday dinner," brigade commander Col. Ben Corell warned his staff back in August, while his 2nd Brigade Command Team (B.C.T.), 34th Infantry "Red Bull" Division had not even yet left for Afghanistan. "They're going to be looking at us thinking we're all dorked up and never going to get it right, and we're going to be looking at them wishing they would just leave so that we can get on with doing this mission."

Iowa National Guard spokespeople have said the Red Bull would be in place not later than Thanksgiving. Recently, Vermont National Guard officials announced that most members of the 86th Infantry Brigade Combat Team would be home before Christmas. The transition is obviously well under way. In some places, it may even be complete: Task Force Lethal--made up of Red Bull soldiers from 1st Battalion, 168th Infantry Regiment (1/168th Inf.) and others--recently conducted a Transfer of Authority ceremony at Forward Operating Base Gardez, Paktya Province.

Back in August, Corell's objectives were simple: No degradation of capability during the hand-offs between units, with a seamless transition apparent to both outside and inside observers.

Here's hoping that your Thanksgiving holiday went just as smoothly ...


Here's yet another Red Bull blog! Titled "From the Home Front to the Front Line," the blog is co-written by a deployed Red Bull soldier Jake and his wife Emily. This is their second deployment, and they are full of good words and good humor.

As Emily wrote, back in 2000: "Childbirth and skydiving seem like cake to this relationship!"

The picture of a Kevlar-cradled baby is alone worth the price of admission, and I have shamelessly borrowed it here. Emily and Jake invite others to remember our fellow Red Bull families with the words of Psalm 91.

I've listed the blog temporarily under "Love, Honor & Support" until I revise my blog-roll categories in the next few weeks. Perhaps we'll find more Red Bull bloggers?


Speaking of which, if you are a Red Bull soldier or family member who would also like to publicly share a deployment-related blog, please let me know at: sherpa [at] redbullrising.com.

If you are a Red Bull soldier or family member interested in sharing your written thoughts or words about the deployment in the form of a guest blog-post, please let me know at the same address.

Along those lines, I am pleased to announce that former Afghan trainer Jeff Courter, author of the book "Afghan Journal" and the blog "Life, Love & Truth," will present a guest-post on Red Bull Rising next Monday. Courter isn't a Red Bull soldier. After this, however, we might have to make him an honorary one.

He's going to write about the value of the Army values in pursuing the Afghan mission.

Think of it as our own "left-seat, right-seat" ride ...


  1. I love your site but I think this time you have a typo.
    It is not Lt Col----it is Full Col Ben Corell.
    Let's correct it and give this hard-working, best of the best Commanders his full regard.

  2. Done. Thanks for the correction. I first served under Corell's command when he had the 1st Battalion, 133rd Infantry Regiment (1/133rd Inf.), and there are few soldiers I hold in higher regard.

  3. Many Thanks for the correction and the good comments.
    So on target.

    Keep the Red Bull Rising!!


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