FORT BLISS, Texas -- The task of ensuring that deploying and redeploying service members are all validated to the same standard has transitioned to a First Army United States Army Reserve unit.

The 5th Armored Brigade's 304th Special Troops Battalion has assumed control of the Continental United States Replacement Center, taking over for the 95th Training Division during a Relief in Place/Transfer of Authority ceremony on March 4. The 304th's new mission includes ensuring the readiness, equipping, and training of deploying Soldiers. The unit is normally stationed in California, but will be spending a year at Fort Bliss performing CRC duties. According to battalion commander, Lt. Col. Blaine White, the unit expects to process about 10,000 personnel during the rotation.

At the replacement center, individual and small team non-unit related personnel are received, trained, and validated for deployment to, and redeployment from, theatres of operation.
In this capacity, 304th Soldiers will ensure the medical readiness of deploying personnel and will also train them on counter-IED techniques, First Aid, roll-overs, weapons familiarization, react to contact battle drills, and more. The 304th will also work with Department of Defense civilians, contractors, and members of the other services to ensure deployment readiness standards. White explained that, "Using one deployment center for all service personnel ensures that everyone transitioning to or from theater receives the same training, care, and treatment."

The center processes about 850 personnel a week, most of which are individual augmentees. "If there is a person downrange and that person is going to be replaced, their replacement comes in and we process them for a week," White said. "We also do late arrivals to the unit, which can be persons who had school obligations or family business to take care of."

White said his unit's Soldiers had to transition to a different type of work from what they were used to. "At first there were some challenges because we had done support operations and came from a sustainment brigade. But they've overcome the challenges and once you start doing it, you build on it. They see how important it is. Every Soldier that comes through has a requirement to be part of the fight, either as fighters, supporting the fighters, or servicing the fighters. We play an integral role in ensuring the person is validated, fit, and ready for the fight."