Monday, July 20, 2009

Fort Benning CRC Survival Guide – Step by Step instructions from my experiences

CRC stands for Conus Replacement Center. It's kind of an odd name, when you think about it, since you're replacing someone OCONUS. Anyways, CRC is particularly shocking for those who haven't dealt with the military before. It's also confusing, and there is very little information that I've found on what you need before you get there, and what to expect when you do get there. So, here's my own little day by day guide to the CRC experience.

Only use Internet Explorer to use any of the sites listed below, Firefox will have display problems.

Day One – Saturday

This is just a processing day. However, don’t think that makes it okay to get there late. If you get there Friday night, great, get up early for that first formation. If you plan to arrive before Friday, don’t bother. You can get a room in the barracks, but that’s it. It is entirely possible to get there Thursday night, sit there for 36 hours and then not get a spot.

“How can this be?” you might wonder. Well, it’s because the first formation they set up tables, and then they say “A through L in this line, M through Z in the line.” Then all the contractors make a mad rush to get in line. If you’ve ever seen Europeans get on a bus, it’s like that, but with 300 people. This is one of the few times when you want to get involved in the mad rush. Get to the front of that line and get a low-numbered badge. There are enough things that happen based on badge number that you want to be in the first fifty if possible, but definitely in the first hundred. If you end up in the back of the line, and get badge 268 or something, and they only accept 267 people, it doesn’t matter when you got there, you’re going home and have to reschedule.

(Some might notice that this is a good way to draw out your stateside time with your company. I suppose it might be, but most people want to get through CRC and out so they can start earning their money)

After that process is done (all told it takes a few hours), you head up the hill to sit down, get your stupid briefings (“I’m the chaplain, come talk to me if you get stressed”) and then you’re done for the day.

Day Two – Sunday

Another boring day. Head up to the hill, get more briefings. This is usually the day that they hand out your packet, and tell you how to fill out each form, etc.

Today is also the day that you have to do computer training. Make a note, though, computer training is on the honor system at CRC, so make of that what you will.

Required courses are:

AT Level 1:


EO/Sexual Harassment (you will not be able to complete this online, there is a problem with the flash player):

Hot Weather Injury (some people reported problems with this one):

The following can be found at the ATSC Homepage

Cultural Awareness – (country)
Combat Stress/Suicide Prevention
HQDA Fraternization
Army Values
Collect and Report Intelligence
General Orders

SERE TRAINING – no, not the SERE school, there is a mandatory online SERE 100 course which you can take online. This will save you about six hours of classroom time, you cannot do this in the computer lab, so get it done on your own time before you leave.

Here’s the address:

The course is J3TA-US022, you have to browse by course number…

If you have already been through CRC before, they will inventory your stuff to make certain you have your OCIE issue.

Days Three and Four – Monday & Tuesday

The specific days that specific things happen might change from cycle to cycle, so I am going to break it down by station, rather than day.

1) Admin SRP

The most important things for this location are your CAC card and your PRO-File paperwork. Before you get to CRC, you should make certain you have:

A Letter of Authorization (LOA)
An Army Knowledge Online (AKO) account

With you AKO account you can do your computer training before you leave, and you can also get your PRO-File filled out. If you don’t have your PRO-File filled out before you get to CRC, you will wait about three hours in line.

PRO-File is here:

And only use Internet Explorer.

Fill out the form, and this is most important, print out the certificate that you have it completed. You can then hand that to the ISOPREP people and be on your merry way.

In addition to this, get your CAC card before you leave. Any base with a DEERS office should be able to do it for you. Most you don’t even need an appointment, although it will take about an hour and a half to get seen. In order to have a CAC card issued, you need to be in the Contractor Verification System (CVS). Make ABSOLUTELY CERTAIN that your information is correct in CVS before you go to get your CAC card. There were people who got kicked back because a letter was out of place in their name. Match everything up between the CVS entry and your LOA.

Once you get your CAC and PRO-File, there are a couple stations left, like legal, which you just have to walk by and have them stamp your sheet.

Then, you’re done with SRP.

2) Medical

Okay, here’s the worst of it. From what I saw, this is the list of what you need:

Basic Physical with CBC and UA (they'll know what it means)

HIV Test
TB Test


Hep A
Hep B

Yellow Fever (if Africa is anywhere on your orders – they go off the orders, not where you’ve been told you are going)

Also, if you are going to Afghanistan, you will need Malaria pills. They will issue them if you don’t have them, but that will hold you an extra day.

Bring two pairs of eyeglasses if you wear them. If you do not have optics for your mask already in hand, they will make some for you, but that means you are guaranteed not to leave until Thursday afternoon, so plan accordingly.

You will receive smallpox and anthrax at CRC if you qualify for them.

3) CIF

This is the easiest station. The people here are government civilians, and thus not the most enthusiastic, but generally helpful. If you already have all your gear, you still need to go through CIF just to sign an updated form. If you don’t it will take you maybe an hour to go through and get all your stuff. As a regular contractor, basically all you get is body armor, helmet, and a couple duffel bags.

The biggest problem here is if you have ever deployed or received gear from the Army, and you still have those items on your record, they will not issue you any more gear. There was a guy who had $1400 worth of gear on his record, from 2003, because he had handed it to his former employers before he left Kuwait to go home, and they were like "Yeah, we'll get it turned in for you." He didn't have the hand receipt for it, and then he proceeded to sulk because he "wasn't going to pay for something that's not my fault." Yeah, well, learn this when you deal with the Army - if you signed for it, it belongs to you. Dead Stop. They don't care who you gave it to, where it went, or frankly, if it got blown up when your tent got hit by incoming. (True story - a friend of mine spent six months before they finished the investigation into how much of his gear got burned up when his tent got hit). Keep track of your stuff, and never believe anyone when they say "I'll take care of it for you."

Day 5 – TSIRT Training

This is the worst day of CRC. If you have been through CRC in the last twelve months, bring your training sheet from the last time you went through, it will get you out of the TSIRT training. Otherwise, bring a book or a gameboy, and just go through it. You won’t be done until at least 6:00 PM, be prepared.

Day 6 – Make-Ups

If you are lucky enough to be a contractor who is flying out commercial, you can be done Thursday morning, assuming you have no deficiencies. The most common ones are:

TB Test (since you have to wait 48 hours for it to be read)
Optics for your mask (delivered Thursday afternoon)
CAC card (if you were a no-go at Admin, they will likely make you wait until today to get it done)
CIF (if you were at the end of the medical line, chances are you didn’t make it to CIF that day)
Malaria Pills (delivered Thursday afternoon)
Other medication (checked Thursday afternoon)

If you have any of these deficiencies, you will not be able to get out of CRC until Thursday night. This is why they say not to book a flight until after 8:00 Thursday night if you are going home.

If you are flying out with the military flight, I feel for you. You will basically be bored all day Thursday, then go through a bunch of Army mickey mouse on Friday until you get on your flight. Then Ali As Saleem in Kuwait, which I don’t think is as bad as everyone else says it is. I would much rather have been stuck there for a week than be stuck at Camp Striker at BIAP for a week, that place is a real pit.


Anonymous said...

At CRC right now. You're blog is great stuff, and all the advice is spot-on!

Steve said...

Great resource. The links to those online training courses can't even be found on the official Benning.CRC page.

Anonymous said...

Thanks! I appreciate the information :-)

Anonymous said...

So, I am researching sending a contractor OCONUS. Are you saying the physical/medical exam and shots are given during the CRC Training. In other words you don't have to have this all done before you arrive?