News: Tennessee Guardsmen take a right seat ride with the unit they are replacing
By 1st Lt. DesiRee L. Nicely
1st Squadron, 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment
CONTINGENCY OPERATING LOCATION Q-WEST, Iraq — As of March 1, the 1st Squadron, 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment, headquartered in Henderson, Tenn., has officially descended upon Contingency Operating Location Q-West, Iraq, where they will reside for the next year with a mission to provide force protection, but not before being trained up by the departing unit.
"It has been a long road to reach our new home, but the work is far from over. Our headquarters element and our troops are busy learning from the Soldiers of 2nd Battalion, 198th Combined Arms, who we will relieve in place and exchange transfer of authority with on March 10. This RIP TOA process also comes at a critical time with the parliamentary elections taking place. As our predecessors did, we hope to conduct successful and safe missions, as well as foster relationships with the Iraqi army and citizens," said Lt. Col. Jimmie L. Cole, Jr., commander of 1/278th ACR, Cobra Squadron.
The RIP TOA process is done to ensure a seamless transition from one command to the next as units rotate in and out of theater on deployment. It is imperative that the outgoing unit impart as much knowledge as possible to the incoming units so that their missions will be safe and successful.
The 1/278th ACR is picking up their force protection mission at a pivotal and historic time in Iraqi history. The second parliamentary elections in Iraqi history are taking place now. The buildup to this election has been somewhat heated with the barring of 500 candidates from the election, all of whom were formally associated with the banned Bathe Party. With controversy and a drawdown of forces in Iraq looming, the possibility of insurgency activity is likely. Factors such as these motivate incoming Soldiers of the 1/278th ACR to absorb as much information as possible from 2-198th CAB.
"There are many roles included in a force protection mission; it can come with a number of subcategories. Our Crusader Troop, who is replacing Alpha Company, 2-198th CAB, is tasked with convoy security missions, a [quick reaction force] mission, perimeter patrols and manning an [entry control point]," said 1st Lt. Andrew Cole, executive officer for Crusader Troop.
With this many duties, the RIP TOA becomes all that more important and detailed. For this reason, a "right seat ride" is necessary for all troopers to properly learn their jobs and responsibilities from outgoing Soldiers.
C Troop, one of four troops the 1/278th ACR currently has at Q-West, immediately began their "right seat ride" missions upon landing here.
"I was a little surprised, but anxious that we started so fast. They seem to run things the same way we did in training, which is nice. Basically, they're helping us learn the routes and points of contact for places that we convoy too often," said Staff Sgt. Jesse Yawn, a truck commander for Crusader Troop, and previous veteran of Iraq.
While Cobra squadron has been forced to take the lead quickly, due to a constrictive time table, they have adapted and transitioned well. They are now in the driver's seat as the end of the RIP TOA process nears. Cobra squadron will surely have a successful year to look forward to.