Reserve quartermaster battalion carries out CONUS Replacement Center mission

By Maj. Ebony Gay | 94th Training Division-Force Sustainment | Feb. 4, 2019

FORT BLISS, Texas — Numerous services members and civilian contractors deploy each year to various locations across the globe helping to fulfill missions of the United States’ military forces. With deployment and redeployment comes the vital task of preparing personnel before their departure downrange and aiding them once they return. For the third consecutive year, a down-trace unit of the 94th Training Division-Force Sustainment has been tasked with one of the most key missions in the deployment and redeployment process.

The 9th Regiment, 108th Battalion, 1st Quartermaster Brigade, 94th TD-FS, based in Decatur, Georgia, was activated for a one-year deployment to carry out the Continental United States Replacement Center mission here. During the yearlong mission, the 9th Regiment reports to and falls under the 5th Armored Brigade who hosted a transfer of authority ceremony at the installation's Old Ironsides Museum on Oct. 29, 2018, for the Fort Bliss CONUS Replacement Center. The CONUS Replacement Center here is the only multiple-component CRC site. The 9th Regiment replaced the 7th Regiment, 95th Battalion, 4th Personnel Services Brigade, which also falls under the 94th TD-FS.

Executing the five-to-seven-day CRC process is no easy task. The CRC receives, process, equips and conducts Theater Specific Individual Requirement Training for military Non-Unit Related Personnel, Department of Defense Civilians, and Non-Logistics Civil Augmentation Program contractors deploying to and redeploying from theaters of operations in support of overseas contingency operations.

Deploying Soldiers and Civilian contractors undergo a wide range of training and mandatory briefings to prepare for a theater environment. The training includes Soldier Readiness Processing; Rapid Fielding Initiative for equipment issue; Sexual Harassment and Assault Response and Prevention; Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear; Counter-Improvised Explosive Devices; High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle Egress Assistance Trainer, and weapons qualification. Redeploying Soldiers and Civilians processing out of CRC may take up to 14 days.

Lt. Col. Daniel Justus is the CRC commander of the 9th Regiment and Troop Program Unit soldier who has served as a Florida police officer for 15 years. He provided insight on CRC supported theater locations, Soldier readiness for theater atmospheres, and required training. 

“We deploy personnel for several operations and locations such as Iraqi Freedom, Enduring Freedom, Kuwait, Africa, and Syria,” said Justus. “The combatant commander dictates what training is required for Soldiers to survive in theater such as weapons training, weapons qualification, self-aid, and buddy care, and specific training that teaches more than the basic Soldier skills for their theater location to allow them to properly integrate with their unit that’s already forward in theater.”

For Justus, his initial objectives as the CRC commander consisted of creating a positive environment for deploying personnel as well as using lessons learned from the previous CRC command to aid with the successful execution of the CRC mission during his tenure. 

“My objectives for CRC include having a good environment and carrying out a successful mission. Adhering to the lessons learned from the previous CRC command and implementing those adjustments would further contribute to fulfilling the mission to enhance our ability to aid deploying and redeploying Soldiers and Civilian contractors,” said Justus.

Justus is humbled and excited for the opportunity to work alongside various military components during his time in command for the CRC mission. Working side-by-side and peer-to-peer with active duty, National Guard and Reserve components and seeing how the various parts function, as well as learning from one another, is a pleasant experience for Justus.

“It’s been a huge learning experience,” said Justus. “It’s a privilege and an honor being a commander, especially going from TPU to active duty. I think I’m blessed to be selected for this position. It’s great to integrate with the 5th Armored Brigade, an active duty element with 12 brigades under its command and control, four which are Active Army components, four Army National Guard components, and four Army Reserve components.” 

Another key element of the CRC mission is Command Sgt. Maj. John Yarborough, command sergeant major of the 9th Regiment CRC team and TPU Soldier. On the civilian side, he has served as a major at the South Carolina Criminal Justice Policy Academy’s training department for the past 30 years.

For Yarborough, he approached his position for the CRC mission with the intent of improving the process wherever possible, and to ensure the CRC staff always displays the highest level of professionalism.

Yarbrough also viewed one of the CRC’s core tenets as a source that provides trained Soldiers and Civilian contractors to fulfill the needs of deployed units. The CRC is an essential resource used for deployment to ensure Soldiers and Civilian contractors have completed all the required training before deployment. The same level of importance is placed on redeploying personnel as well. 

“For redeployment, we work hard to get them back home to their families,” said Yarborough. “The CRC staff are the last personnel Soldiers and Civilian contractors see when they deploy, and the first they see when they redeploy. Therefore, it is imperative that their in-and-out-processing time with us is positive, especially when the younger Soldiers are nervous about deploying and are eager to return home.”

With the 94th TD-FS being primarily composed of instructors, the division’s primary mission is to execute the Army Program of Individual Training mission. For Brig. Gen. Stephen Iacovelli, 94th TD-FS commanding general, the CRC mission that is being carried out by the 9th Regiment shows the versatility and professionalism of the 94th Soldiers.

For Iacovelli, the CRC mission is an opportunity for Soldiers to go on a one-year tour to do their job and hone their skills, which will better prepare them when they conduct their annual training in support of the Training and Doctrine Command’s ARPRINT mission to be more skilled and proficient instructors.

Iacovelli also believes the interactions the 94th TD-FS instructor's experience by going through the basic instructor course allows them to acquire the skills necessary to interact with both Soldiers and Civilians. These experiences help the instructors learn to train, teach, coach and mentor individuals to facilitate issues that some may encounter, such as those that occur during the CRC mobilization and demobilization process. 

“The CRC mission is critical to ensure not only the success of missions downrange by ensuring Soldiers are properly trained before deployment but also to ensure all financial affairs and medical screenings are completed before the Soldier’s departure to a theater. Any outstanding issues in these areas could have a negative impact on the Soldier by diverting their concentration from the mission at hand,” said Iacovelli. 

Iacovelli and Command Sgt. Maj. Sharon Campbell, 94th TD-FS command sergeant major, conducted a CRC site visit Dec. 6-7, 2018, for a meeting with the 5th Armored Brigade leadership and an overview of the 9th Regiment during their CRC mission. During their visit, Iacovelli and Campbell observed training, addressed the deploying Soldiers and Civilian contractors, and bid farewell to deploying personnel as they exited the CRC building to board their flight.

“The first person I met with was Col. Martin Schmidt, 5th Armored Brigade commander. He’s the commander to whom the 9th/108th Battalion reports and falls under during the CRC yearlong mission. He had nothing but positive things to say about the 9th/108th’s professionalism and work ethic,” said Iacovelli. 

In the midst of CRC processing where hundreds of Soldiers and Civilian military employees are mobilized and demobilized, Soldiers of the 9th Regiment may not recognize the positive impact they have on individuals who support theater missions.

“The fact that individuals came up to the 9th/108th /CRC battalion commander to thank him for the work of his Soldiers and to identify some of the CRC staff by name who specifically did an outstanding job makes you proud to be a commander," said Iacovelli. “I am very proud of the 9th/108th Soldiers stepping up for this yearlong deployment, and I’m confident they will continue to do a good job just as they’ve done over the past several months.” 

The 8th Regiment, 108th Battalion, 2nd Transportation Brigade is the next 94th TD-FS down-trace unit scheduled to assume the CRC deployment mission for the fiscal year 2020.