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Airmen team-up, support war by the tons

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Need a laptop? Okay. Need a copy machine? Done. Need a mine resistant ambush protected vehicle? On its way.
Deployed to Ali Air Base, Iraq, two NCOs have united to maximize support for the war in Afghanistan while rewarding others in Iraq.

As members of the Tallil redistribution property assistance team, Staff Sgts. Esther Roboch and William Ruble came together with the same goal in mind -- help send support to the fight in Afghanistan as much as possible and ensure military members in Iraq can return home.

As one of eight teams in Iraq, Tallil’s RPAT has the largest inventory of them all. It is divided into multiple sections, the main two being rolling stock and non-rolling stock. They relieve the units on base and reduce their surplus theater-provided equipment, process it and transport it to its next location, primarily Afghanistan.

Once the RPAT accounts for any items that have been turned in by a customer, they do a thorough inspection of all of the assets before being transported to Afghanistan, to assist in preventing any faulty pieces of equipment being used in the field.

“A lot of this equipment is still usable,” said Sgt. Ruble, non rolling stock NCO in-charge. “We need to make sure that everything we send is fully functional because we’re giving it to somebody to complete his or her mission.”

While working 12-hour shifts, the 24-hour operation team have managed and operated non-stop to contribute to shipping more than five million dollars of equipment in less than a month, and clearing more than 7,200 items off the ten million dollars they maintain on their property books.

“We want to help provide assistance to the airmen, soldiers, Marines and sailors fighting in Afghanistan,” Sgt. Roboch, rolling stock NCOIC, said. “Anything we can send out of here to them to make their lives easier is what we work hard to do, the more we send the better.”

The rolling stock team processes all vehicles and the equipment within it. This consists of listing all parts and pieces as well as documenting any lack of supplies. This section loads and unloads all of the convoys entering or leaving Ali Air Base.

“Working in the rolling stock section definitely has its privileges,” Sgt. Roboch said. “Being able to drive around in various types of vehicles is awesome. I had a lot of fun driving a tank, but knowing that we’re helping others by sending all of it out to people who need it, is a better feeling.”

Ruble manages the non-rolling section. This piece of the team processes all the equipment that isn’t drivable, including office equipment, weapons and radios. He’s also responsible for the found on installation collection point, where personnel on base turn in unattended or left over items that are not on anyone’s property books.

“My section is very unique,” said Ruble, an Irvine, Ky. native. “I know whenever I’m doing my job I’m helping two types of people. I’m either helping somebody with their mission in Afghanistan or helping somebody redeploy home.”

With more and more units getting smaller because of the transitioning of control back to the Iraqi forces, more and more military members have to come to the RPAT. In order for them to be cleared to go redeploy they need to get all their assets of their property books before.

“I enjoy taking a customer’s vehicle off their property books and onto ours,” said Roboch, a Jacksonville, Fla., native. “Because I know that I have helped on my part to send them home to their friends and families.”

With less than a quarter of their deployment finished, they both are happy they work in a joint environment with the U.S. Army.

“I prefer working in a joint setting,” Sergeant Roboch said. “The Army has a lot of knowledge with the stuff over here and you get to learn different systems. It’s a change but it’s good.

For the soldiers, the feeling is mutual.

“They are really focused on the mission,” U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Cesar Delgado, the RPAT yard boss. “It couldn’t be a better group of people to work with.”

Article by Senior Airman Andrew Lee, U.S. Air Forces Central, Baghdad Media Outreach Team