By By Staff Sgt. Patricia Deal, 402nd Field Artillery Brigade, Division West Public AffairsJuly 16, 2013
FORT BLISS, Texas -- Painting the big picture of the upcoming CONUS Replacement Center mission, the 402nd Field Artillery Brigade, First Army Division West, created a large-scale, terrain model of the Fort Bliss training area footprint for a Rehearsal of Concept drill presented to senior leaders here July 8.
The CRC supports the validation and deployment of individual (non-unit related) service members, civilians and contractors deploying to and redeploying from all theaters of operations.
The CRC's realignment under Forces Command's 402nd FA BDE, DIVWEST, provides a single deployment center for all personnel, of all grades, and from all services and agencies, ensuring that all personnel are validated to the same high standard.
"It is a big job, yet it fits with our core mission to ensure units coming through our formation are trained, equipped, fully resourced, and validated as ready to deploy," said Col. Carolyn Birchfield, 402nd FA BDE commander. "We're very familiar with the mobilizing and demobilizing process as we have trained thousands of Army Reserve and National Guard units over the past decade and have become experts in the process."
The brigade's 3rd Battalion, 398th Infantry Regiment will be running the CRC mission here starting in August, and used the terrain model as a visual aide to demonstrate each step of the deployment and redeployment processes, putting time and space requirements into perspective for attendees.
The ROC Drill was an interactive forum, with DIVWEST and 402nd staff members and representatives from various garrison entities asking questions and sharing information throughout the presentation.
"To ensure our success for a complex mission like the CRC, we rely on garrison's support and services," said Birchfield. "Incorporating our enterprise partners in our planning stages ensures we're all synchronized as far as specific requirements and capabilities.
"Exchanges like this give the brigade another opportunity to assess our processes, identify any friction points and make changes if necessary. It's all part of a continuing effort to make sure we're ready for when the first plane load of deployers and re-deployers arrive."
Maj. Gen. Warren E. Phipps Jr., Division West commanding general, was an active participant in the presentation, asking questions and discussing issues with Col. Brant Dayley, Fort Bliss garrison commander, and others in attendance.
At the end of the more than two-hour presentation, Phipps thanked everyone for their hard work and effort in the planning and preparation for the CRC mission. Initially, he anticipates the CRC based at Bliss to train more than 400 personnel a week, building from there.
"It is no easy task when we go through processes like this, but it's a way to confirm if what we said we know is really what we know," Phipps said. "By laying out all the requirements and details upfront, we've done the hard part. The easy part comes when those first deployers and re-deployers arrive for processing and we just execute the mission."
To further their knowledge base and better prepare for the mission, the brigade also made site surveys to observe the CRC operations at Fort Benning, Ga.; embedded brigade staff Soldiers with operations there, and sent some 3-398th trainers for left-seat/right-seat training. During the coming weeks, the 3-398th will run through a full-dress rehearsal with local Soldiers role-playing as deployers and re-deployers coming through the CRC.
Lt. Col. Brian Evans, battalion commander for the 3-398th, has total confidence in his trainers.
"I have the greatest group of drill sergeants who have a wealth of experience. Training is what they know and they know how to do it well," Evans said. "In addition to superior training skills, many of the trainers have had multiple deployments themselves so they know the mobilizing and demobilizing process firsthand. I have no doubt they will make the CRC mission a complete success."
Sgt. 1st Class Hector Lopez, Company C, 3-398th, who led the team that built the large-scale terrain model, said the whole process brought the mission into perspective for him.
"I'm part of the movement team, so now I can see what I need to do, such as where I have to pick the Soldiers up and how long it will take me to get from point to point," Lopez said. "I'll already have an expectation of what's right and so should have no problem making sure everything goes smoothly when we go live."
While it was fun making Styrofoam buildings and miniature trees, Lopez said he and his fellow Soldiers are just anxious to get started training.
"We're drill sergeants. Just tell us what you want done, and we'll make it happen," Lopez said.