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257th Medical Company (Dental Services)

The 257th Medical Company (Dental Services) is one of 3 CONUS-based dental services companies and is the only airborne and air assault capable unit of the four. The 257th Medical Company is assigned to the 44th Medical Command, XVIII Corps.

The mission of the 257th Medical Company was to provide dental care and services on an area basis to the soldiers of XVIII Corps; to reinforce or reconstitute the dental assets of other medical units; and to augment Medical Facilities Combat Casualty Care capability within its area of responsibility.

The 257th Medical Company was originally constituted on 19 February 1944 in the Army of the United States as the 257th Medical Section. It was activated on 25 February 1944 at Camp Grant, Illinois. The unit was reorganized and was redesignated on 10 April 1945 as the 257th Medical Detachment. It was inactivated on 12 November 1945 in France.

The unit was redesignated on 16 February 1951 as the 257th Medical Gas Detachment and allotted to the Regular Army. It activated on 15 September 1951 in Germany. It was inactivated on 20 March 1953 in Germany.

The unit was redesignated on 29 June 1964 as the 257th Medical Detachment. It was activated on 10 August 1964 at Camp Polk, Louisiana. The unit was inactivated on 20 February 1970 in Vietnam.

The unit was reactivated on 15 March 1971 at Fort Jackson, South Carolina. It relocated on 26 June 1984 to Fort Bragg, North Carolina. It was reorganized and redesignated on 16 November 1993 as the 257th Medical Company (Dental Service). At Fort Bragg, North Carolina, the unit was assigned to the 55th Medical Group, 44th Medical Brigade (Airborne). The 44th Medical Brigade supported XVIII Corps and the 4 Combat Divisions in the Corps.

The 257th Medical Company, by virtue of being a purely dental organization, gave the 55th Medical Group Commander maximum flexibility in deployment options and task organization. The 257th Medical Company had the capability of deploying single or multiple dental teams anywhere in the theater of operations. The 257th Medical Company provided area dental support to all units within a designated geographic area of responsibility. It could also be tasked to provide direct support to hospital units (combat support hospitals or general hospitals) and to reinforce or reconstitute unit-level or area support dental assets (82nd Airborne, 101st Airborne, 10th Mountain, and 3rd Infantry Divisions and 261st Medical Battalion).

The 257th provided all 3 categories of dental care that were available in the theater of operations: emergency, sustaining, and maintaining dental care. The 257th Medical Company had the organic assets to provide all levels of dental care, from emergency through routine and elective. The company was capable of self transport, power generation, maintenance and supply.

The basis of allocation, by doctrine, was one Dental Company per 20,000 deployed troops (when providing all 3 categories of care), or one per 30,000 troops (when providing only emergency and sustaining care). It was very important to understand that this basis of allocation was not affected by the presence of other "unit-level" or "area" dental assets (i.e. division dental assets, area support medical companies, etc.). This basis of allocation assumed that these dental assets were already present in the theater of operations. The Medical Company (Dental Service) had 16 officers and 43 enlisted members organized into four platoons. The dental company consisted of a Headquarters and Support Platoon, a dentistry/prosthetics platoon, a general dentistry section, and a forward dental treatment section.

The Dental Company had 15 dental modules and 6 dental hygiene modules, which could be task organized as a single 21-chair dental clinic, or be divided up into as many as 10 separate dental clinics, depending on the mission and the location of the patient population.

Elements of the 257th Medical Company normally deployed and were collocated with a medical facility (area support medical battalion, combat support hospital, or general hospital) whenever possible. A dental company was limited in its ability to provide sufficient security, logistic support, and maintenance support to all of its dental teams when they were widely dispersed across a theater of operations. It was logical and reasonable to collocate the various dental sections with host medical units.

On one hand, the dental units received vital logistic support, while on the other hand combat units sent their troops through the medical evacuation system to receive dental care. Historically, 10 to 25 percent of all out-patients reporting to field hospitals were dental patients. Therefore, collocating dental units with hospitals provided a truly symbiotic relationship between the dental and medical units.

In 2001, the 44th Medical Brigade (Airborne) was reorganized and redesignated as the 44th Medical Command. As part of the transformation, the 55th Medical Group was inactivated and its units reassigned directly to the new command.

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