CAMP ARIFJAN, Kuwait – From the humid air of Orlando to the heat of the Texas Sun, soldiers from the 143d Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) trained vigorously for their role in Operation Enduring Freedom. The training that took them from home station Orlando catapulted them through pre-mobilization at Fort Hood, ultimately landing them here, ready to take the reins.
“These are exciting times for the 143d and I am privileged to be a part of it,” said Command Sgt. Major Ferdinand Collazo Jr., command sergeant major, 143d Sustainment Command (Expeditionary). “Our soldiers have put their hearts and souls into this mission and have embraced their responsibility. My excitement is beyond any description and I am proud to be a part of it.”
This past Saturday marked the end of the 143d ESC’s RIP/TOA, otherwise known as a Relief in-Place or Transfer of Authority with the 135th ESC from Birmingham, Ala, who arrived here in May 2013. The 143d ESC arrived in mid-August for an extended pre-RIP stay that helped create a much smoother transfer than most incoming/outgoing units are afforded.
“I believe that having the extended time was very helpful,” said Spc. Brittany N. Cavazos, petroleum supply specialist, 143d ESC. “I’ve had the pleasure of being able to conduct a lot of trial and errors, and I’ve been running reports alone for a little over a month, which has boosted my confidence.”
The incoming commander, Col. Christopher Govekar, 143d ESC also commented on the benefits of an extended RIP-TOA.
“The team had a unique opportunity to work together on an important planning project as well as spend more time than usual integrating into their sections in advance of the RIP-TOA,” said Govekar. “I’ve watched a group of individuals become a team through shared experience and challenge.”
Although this RIP/TOA has been unique, it is a familiar experience for the two ESCs. In December 2009 the 135th ESC replaced the 143d ESC in Kandahar, Afghanistan.
“The 135th and the 143d have developed a tremendous working relationship. I think that for the most part we actually function as one unit and not two,” said Collazo.
During any RIP/TOA the importance of the outgoing unit cannot be understated as they help determine the transition and success for the Soldiers replacing them.
The outgoing commander, Brig. Gen. Donald B. Tatum, commanding general, 135th ESC, honored his soldiers for all their hard work during the RIP/TOA ceremony here.
“Thank you for being true professionals, for living up to the commitments we made a year ago, and for everything you’ve done,” said Tatum. “I can honestly say, I have never been as proud to command an organization.”
135th soldiers have made it easy for 143d soldiers to take over the operation.
“The 135th has been of great pleasure to work with from Class III to G6, said Cavazos. “They were very helpful and always made sure I was squared away and have done nothing less but set me up for success.”
The relationship formed between the ESCs is not the only bond recently established, as the 143d continues relations with our Kuwaiti partners in the area, many who were in attendance during the RIP-TOA ceremony.
Govekar addressed the audience during the ceremony, encouraging the unit’s commitment to the mission at hand while praising our Kuwaiti partners.
“We’re also privileged to have our Kuwaiti partners in attendance to recognize your continued support that has made us so successful to date. Without your hospitality, our mission success could not be what it is today. Thank you so much for your professionalism, your expertise in what you bring to the ceremony and to our mission,” said Govekar.
As the 143d prepares to take over operations here, a new era begins in Camp Arifjan. Expectations are high and the excitement is palpable.
“The 143d has trained vigorously for months in order to take on this mission and I am confident that we will perform far beyond anybody’s expectation,” said Collazo.