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NEWS | Dec. 1, 2016

Col. Barra assumes command of the 304th SBDE

By Capt. Fernando Ochoa 311th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary)

FORT IRWIN, Calif. – Brig. Gen. David Elwell, 311th Expeditionary Sustainment Command commanding general, traveled to the Fort Irwin National Training Center November 19, during a joint Field Training Exercise for combat readiness, where he conducted a change of command ceremony for the 304th Sustainment Brigade, transferring the unit colors to Col. Chris Barra from Col. Jon Blatt.
Barra, a Manhattan Beach, California resident, is a United States Military Academy, West Point, 1989 graduate. He received his commission as a second lieutenant in the Field Artillery branch, whose mission is to is to destroy, defeat or disrupt the enemy with integrated fire to dominate the area of operation. In 1990, Barra graduated from Ranger School, making him an Airborne Ranger and he is also an Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran.

The 311th ESC leadership was on scene for a joint Field Training Exercise, during a MUTA 8 four-day battle assembly, where collective training events as well as individual readiness focused on medical readiness and firearms qualification.

“The Fort Irwin National Training Center is a fine place to hold this change of command ceremony because this is where we train to go to war,” said Elwell. “When we look for leaders to lead a brigade we look for the best and Col. Barra is among the best, and I’m sure he will do an excellent job.”

In the middle of the desert, having survived chilling wind storms, down trace units of the 304th SBDE including the 420th Transportation Battalion, 304th Special Troops Battalion and the 155th and 371st Combat Sustainment Support Battalions who stood in formation during the ceremony.

More than 1500 Soldiers from the 304th SBDE participated in this Field Training Event to focus on conduct individual weapons qualification and a mass medical readiness event, where examinations included eye, dental, hearing, physician interviews and an influenza vaccination.

“This is an awesome opportunity for me. I have served proudly for 27 years and have enjoyed every minute of it,” said Barra. “I have been within this unit before and I can’t tell you how thrilled I am to be home again.”

The 304th SBDE organized a convoy to and from home station, Riverside, California, to Fort Irwin, in a multi-vehicle convoy using its organic rolling stock, which included its Mobile Kitchen Trailer, giving the 88Ms, Motor Transport Operators, and 92Gs, Culinary Specialists, an opportunity to work in their actual trained military occupational specialties.
During this exercise, the Culinary Specialists, with their Mobile Kitchen Trailer, were able to cook both breakfasts and dinners, preparing more than 6000 meals. After the change of command ceremony, a cooking contest was held and the winners were coined by Brig. Gen. Elwell.

The Fort Irwin National Training Center is a major training area for the United States Military and is a census-designated place located in the Mojave Desert in northern San Bernardino County, California and is located 37 miles northeast of Barstow, in the Calico Mountains.