402nd FA fine tunes CRC process: First deployers to arrive for training Aug. 9
By Staff Sgt. Patricia Deal, 402nd FAB Public Affairs:
“Rough Riders” from the 402nd Field Artillery Brigade, First Army Division West, are among the quietest trainers around. They let the thousands of Army reserve and National Guard Soldiers, Airmen, Sailors and Marines they’ve trained over the last decade speak for them.
That voice is about to get louder as the first group of individual deployers is scheduled to arrive here, Aug. 9, to begin their deployment processing at the 402nd FA Bde. CONUS Replacement Center.
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 mission potentially will add more than 20,000 personnel to the 402nd FA Bde. training capacity.
“All of us at the 402nd are proud the Army recognized our capability and selected us to oversee all CRC Operations. It nests very well with the 402nd FA Bde., Division West and First Army mission,” said Col. Carolyn Birchfield, 402nd FA Bde. commander.
The 3rd Battalion, 398th Infantry Regiment, 402nd FA Bde., Soldiers run the CRC and let their actions speak louder than words at their seven-day dress rehearsal held here July 12 through 19.
“The rehearsal validated the training schedule for the individual deployers (and) re-deployers,” Birchfield said. “We discovered that we have much work to do between now and Aug. 9, but I’m confident that we, along with our enterprise partners, will be ready.”
To get the best assessment of the anticipated operations, the brigade structured the live rehearsal just like its culminating training events, including specific injects and observer controllers and trainers.
The brigade typically uses its own Soldiers for role-players during CTEs, but for this rehearsal, it looked to 1st Armored Division for 100 active-duty Soldiers to play the deployers and re-deployers.
The Soldiers went through the entire CRC deployment and re-deployment process, step-by-step, Birchfield explained. The Soldiers did it all, from “arriving” at the airport, attending all the briefings, qualifying at the ranges and processing through all required stations and checkpoints.
“I would give these guys five out of five stars,” Sgt. Joshua Hakim, one of the role players from 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division. “They were professional at all times and treated us well. They made sure we were taken care of.”
Members of the various garrison entities who are involved in the CRC operations added their own positive comments to the buzz.
“For anyone to take on a complex mission like the CRC, without having any prior experience, and to be able to make it happen so professionally, speaks to the caliber of those trainers,” said Master Sgt. Joe Fierro, Jr., who oversees all mobilization and deployment operations at the Departure Arrival Airfield Control Group at Biggs Army Airfield.
Fierro worked with the CRC when it was at Fort Bliss prior to 2007, so he has a basis for comparison, although the previous CRC mission varied a bit from the current one.
“I’m confident these guys will do an excellent job. Really, training is just about making sure you’re taking care of the Soldiers, and they got that,” Fierro added. “They don’t dwell on the problems, just look for solutions, and then take action decisively and quickly.”
“What impressed me most was the high degree of professionalism they demonstrated just as if it was second nature for them,” said Brig. Gen. Michael Navrkal, deputy commander of operations, First Army Division West and assistant adjutant general for the Nebraska National Guard. “Their positive attitude and rapport with the deployers and redeployers, their confident manner, the synergy between everyone – are all valuable character traits that aren’t necessarily learned, they’re ingrained.
“We have the right leadership, the right kind of Soldiers, the right skill-sets and the right kind of attitude to be successful. Our years of experience in training, equipping, validating and re-deploying a variety of different types of units, plus our fortified partnerships with Team Bliss, all the garrison services and other supporting units, makes the 402nd and Fort Bliss the right organization to take on this mission.”
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