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United States Army Recruiting Southern California Battalion Guide

United States Army Recruiting Southern California Battalion is located in Mission Viejo and is a two-hour trip from Fort Irwin.USAREC Southern California Battalion oversees operations for seven recruiting companies and operations with an area of responsibility just under 40 thousand miles in the southern portion of the state.

Learn more about the Southern California Battalion, including contact numbers for the base, information on housing, education services, base transportation, temporary lodging, and inprocessing.

United States Army Recruiting Southern California Battalion History

Back in the 1970s, when the area was known as Santa Ana Recruiting Main Station, USAREC Southern California got its start thanks to the end of the military draft and the start of the all-volunteer force in 1972.

Two years later, the operation was redesignated Santa Ana District Recruiting Command, and the headquarters was shifted from Santa Ana to Laguna Niguel, a move completed in late 1976.

Over time, district recruiting commands became brigades and battalions, and in 1983, what we know today as USAREC Southern California Battalion started to come together, starting with the naming convention; in 1983, the operation was designated as the U.S. Army Santa Ana Recruiting Battalion.

A few years later, there was another relocation to Mission Viejo, where the Battalion operates today. In the 21st century, the battalion oversees seven recruiting companies, 34 centers, and two Forward Engagement Centers covering more than 37,000 square miles of Southern California.

United States Army Recruiting Southern California Battalion Surrounding Area

There is plenty to see and do in Southern California. The movie industry, music business, and the business of outdoor adventure have made this area a go-to destination for various reasons. But the most important thing a new arrival should know about relocating to Southern California has to do with the overall cost of living.

“The Southern California Recruiting Battalion is located 40 miles away from Los Angeles and about 80 miles from San Diego, all some of the most expensive housing markets outside of New York City or Boston.

According to the DoD, “Although one of the most beautiful spots in the United States, it does cost a lot to live here. We want you to be prepared and to understand you will pay more for every necessity, from food, clothing, and housing to childcare and family recreation.” While it is true that military benefits will help offset some of the costs of living in SoCal, do NOT expect those benefits to cover everything. Typically, they do not.

United States Army Recruiting Southern California Battalion Mission and Units

This Army operation is unique because the entire mission is centered around recruiting. While there is a headquarters, there is no base to speak of. The Southern California Battalion is responsible for Army recruiting efforts in Orange County as well as:

  • Riverside County
  • San Bernardino County
  • San Diego County
  • Imperial County

Recruiters may serve in areas far away from military bases in general; the Battalion recruits in the SoCal area with companies located in:

  • Redlands
  • Huntington Beach
  • Anaheim
  • San Diego South
  • San Diego North
  • Riverside
  • Temecula

In-Processing and Check-In

Once you get orders to the Battalion, expect to be contacted by a sponsor within seven days. Those who are recruiters in training should receive a Battalion assignment during the second week of recruiter school.

All new arrivals are directed not to enter legally binding arrangements for housing, child care, or other needs until they know the geographic area in the state where they will serve. Not all assigned to the Battalion serve at its headquarters, and a given duty location may be far from a military base. It is necessary to make plans once you know where your duty location is.

Child Care

There is no Child Development Center at USAREC Headquarters in Mission Viejo. You will find childcare options online at MilitaryChildCare.com, a Department of Defense online request for care system. Depending on where you serve in the state, you may be able to get on waiting lists for child care at one of the nearby bases.


There is no base housing office due to the unique nature of the operations here. It is extremely important to coordinate your PCS with your sponsor as the physical area where you could be assigned may be at one of the following California counties:

  • Riverside County
  • San Bernardino County
  • San Diego County
  • Imperial County

Ask your sponsor which base is closest to your anticipated duty station and contact that base’s housing office as soon as you have orders to the area. You can also use the official DoD resource Plan My Move.

Related: Basic Allowance for Housing Calculator


There is no Commissary at the USAREC Southern California Battalion headquarters.

United States Army Recruiting Southern California Battalion PCS and TDY Lodging

All PCSing or coming to TDY to the USAREC Southern California Battalion are directed to make arrangements with their sponsors for PCS moves or with the gaining unit (for TDY travel) to arrange transportation and lodging upon arrival. Do not try to navigate the Southern California highway system for the first time when you arrive here for the best results.

Vehicle Registration And Driver’s License

California has strict vehicle laws for emissions and insurance coverage. This state requires drivers to have Evidence of Financial Responsibility, which includes coverages for death, injury, property damage, and more. If you do not carry this required insurance, you could be fined up to $2,000.

The entry requirements for California military bases may vary depending on the installation you are assigned near; check with each base for instructions on registering a vehicle and proper ID for admittance.


School choice in California depends on where you physically serve within the Battalion’s “footprint”. Contact the nearest military base to where you expect to serve to get information on transferring a student to local schools in that Southern California county.

Some communities here may not have funding for school transportation; in some school districts you may be required to pay a transportation fee per student.

Colleges and Universities

Serving at the Battalion isn’t like serving elsewhere; your duty location plays a big part in school choice options. Since the Battalion is not located on a military base, the usual base Education Office resources aren’t available.

Those physically serving at the headquarters building may contact the Education office at Los Angeles Air Force Base. Otherwise, contact the nearest military base to you and learn what that base’s education office may offer.

Related: Ultimate GI Bill Guide

USAREC Southern California Battalion Contacts

U.S. Army Recruiting Battalion – Southern California
27401 Los Altos Suite 330
Mission Viejo, CA 92691

Important Phone Numbers

  • Battalion Command Group 949-367-1150
  • APA 949-367-1159
  • RT 949-367-1152
  • Soldier &  Family Assistance 949-367-1858
  • Budget & Accounting 949-367-1160
  • IMO 949-367-2834
  • Ed Spec 949-367-1158
  • Facilities 949-367-2936
  • Personnel Administration (S-1) 949-367-1155
  • Operations (S-3) 949-367-1152
  • Supply (S-4) 949-367-1162

Related: Ultimate Military Benefits Guide


About the author

Editor-in-Chief | + posts

Editor-in-Chief Joe Wallace is a 13-year veteran of the United States Air Force and a former reporter/editor for Air Force Television News and the Pentagon Channel. His freelance work includes contract work for Motorola, VALoans.com, and Credit Karma. He is co-founder of Dim Art House in Springfield, Illinois, and spends his non-writing time as an abstract painter, independent publisher, and occasional filmmaker.