The Universal Truths of Relief in Place

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Relief in place, commonly referred to as “RIP,” is that process of one unit changing out with another. I first heard about it shortly before the invasion of Iraq. Our initial mission set was to jump into Baghdad Airport after the Rangers had jumped in and relieve them (aka, the greatest mission that never happened). My platoon sergeant described it as a process of literally finding your counterpart on the battlefield and relieving him of his position, so he could go on and do something else.

Today, the RIP process is less literal. The incoming unit comes in and is shown the ropes by the outgoing unit, usually involving a lot of conversation and questions and some version of the “left-seat, right-seat” ride. That is, the outgoing unit will “do it” (whatever “it” is, a patrol or manning towers, for example) with the incoming unit observing, and then at some point they’ll switch and the RIP will be complete.

I don’t really have much to say about the RIP process, other than there are three universal truths that I’ve discovered over time:

  1. The unit you’re relieving sucks.
  2. The unit reliving you is totally not prepared for this.
  3. Both units want the other to hurry up.

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