A Soldier assigned to the 3rd Cavalry Regiment loads a Joint Light Tactical Vehicle Tuesday onto a train in preparation for movement to Fort Iwrin, California.
A Soldier assigned to the 3rd Cavalry Regiment loads a Joint Light Tactical Vehicle Tuesday onto a train in preparation for movement to Fort Iwrin, California. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army photo by Eric Franklin) VIEW ORIGINAL

FORT CAVAZOS, Texas — The Fort Cavazos Rail Operation Center, recognized as one of the Army’s critical power projection platforms, has concluded its latest round of upgrades. These enhancements have confirmed and elevated its reputation as a leading site for military deployments.

The 407th Army Field Support Brigade operates the center, which plays a significant role in various military operations at Fort Cavazos. The center’s key duties encompass facilitating equipment load and unload processes, managing the transport of railcars domestically and internationally and establishing tie-down requirements. In addition, the center caters to the transportation needs of military equipment and offers rail tie-down training for all units stationed at Fort Cavazos.

Lorna Urbano, traffic management specialist at the Deployment Ready Reaction Field, highlights the significant role that upgrades have played in enhancing safety at the rail head during movement.

“The latest upgrades of lighting and rails have not only provided employees with a safer work environment but also safeguarded the movement of unit equipment required for training or deployments,” Urbano stated. “By replacing bi-levels with concrete ramps on two tracks, Fort Cavazos has increased its capacity, allowing the loading of an additional thirty-six cars during high-tempo activities.”

Staff Sgt. Elizabeth De La Fuente, 3rd Cavalry Regiment, loads a M1126 Stryker Combat Vehicle on a railcar before a training rotation at the National Training Center.
Staff Sgt. Elizabeth De La Fuente, 3rd Cavalry Regiment, loads a M1126 Stryker Combat Vehicle on a railcar before a training rotation at the National Training Center. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army photo by Eric Franklin) VIEW ORIGINAL

Urbano emphasizes the critical mission of the Fort Cavazos Rail Operation Center, which provides vital support to active duty, Reserve and National Guard units during rail operations, facilitating the movement of equipment both within the United States and worldwide each year.

“The Fort Cavazos rail supports the movement of approximately 165 trains per year loaded with more than 6,936 pieces of military equipment,” Urbano said. “We provide units with guidance on packaging and declaring their HAZMAT, conduct tie-down classes, teach [Cargo Movement Operating System] courses, and offer on-the-job training for loading and unloading operations either in the CONUS or OCONUS deployments.”

The 3rd Cavalry Regiment’s Soldiers have found immense value in utilizing the upgraded rail operation center to prepare for their upcoming rotation to the National Training Center, according to Capt. Noah Burton, 3rd Cavalry Regiment. The advancements and training they received have significantly eased their unit’s transportation by rail.

“As you can see, our ability to organize and stage equipment by like items makes the process much quicker,” Burton said while conducting operations at the DRRF. “We haven’t had any serious injuries where we had to take Soldiers off the line, away from their vehicles. I attribute that to the training and leaders inside the vehicles as well as crews.”

Spc. Gerard Smith Jr., 3rd Cavalry Regiment, vividly recalls using the DRRF when it was merely a dirt facility. But now, with the upgrades, he describes the transformation as night and day. He explains that the upgrades help his unit move vehicles in and out with ease.

A row of M1126 Stryker Combat Vehicles sit in straight lines at the recently upgraded Deployment Ready Reaction Field before heading to the Rail Operations Center.
A row of M1126 Stryker Combat Vehicles sit in straight lines at the recently upgraded Deployment Ready Reaction Field before heading to the Rail Operations Center. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army photo by Eric Franklin) VIEW ORIGINAL

“The biggest difference is getting these vehicles in here much easier than last year. Because it’s all a big concrete slab,” Smith said.

Smith enthusiastically praised his leadership’s active involvement during rail operations, expressing his deep appreciation for their hands-on approach.

“It’s a fantastic feeling to have our leadership right alongside us, engaging in the movement and ensuring everything gets done smoothly,” Smith remarked. “Knowing that they have our back and understand the challenges we face out here makes me extremely comfortable in what I’m doing. I feel supported, and it gives me the confidence that we’ve got everything under control at the end of the day.”