Lt. Col. Kurt Cyr, 1st Battalion (Airborne), 143rd Infantry Regiment commander, center left, and Command Sgt. Maj. Mark Dornbusch, battalion sergeant major, left, changes the unit patch on Alpha Company commander and first sergeant, from the Texas Army National Guard's 36th Infantry Division “T Patch” to the active duty, 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team patch out of Vincenza, Italy, during a ceremony held at Camp Mabry in Austin, August 13, 2016. The Army's Associated Unit Pilot Program pairs select National Guard and Reserve units with Active Duty units to train and build readiness together, enabling the Army to provide more combat ready formations to combatant commanders. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Capt. Jessica Jackson)
The Army’s pilot program to bring together active-duty, Army Reserve and Army National Guard units is well underway as soldiers trade patches and form relationships across the components.
This week, soldiers from the Texas Army National Guard’s 1st Battalion, 143rd Infantry Regiment put on the patch of the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, an active Army unit stationed in Vicenza, Italy, during a "patch-over" ceremony.
Earlier this month, soldiers from the 1245th Transportation Company, Special Troops Battalion, 90th Troop Command, put on the patch of the 1st Cavalry Division.
The pilot establishes formal relationships between designated units so they can train and potentially deploy together.
"Much of America’s Army’s capacity is resident in the reserve components, and we must rely more heavily on them to meet the demands of a complex global environment," Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley said in a statement announcing the pilot. "The Associated Units pilot allows us to leverage the capabilities and capacities of the active component, Army Reserve and Army National Guard as one Army."
The goal of these partnerships is to establish relationships between the units prior to mobilization, Troy Rolan, an Army spokesman, said at the time.
"[This] requires training together as much as possible, both at home station and at combat training centers," he said. "The units will wear common patches and will exchange personnel to enhance the integration."
It also will mean more training opportunities for Guard and Reserve units involved in the pilot.
"This is going to be a great demonstration of how the total Army fights," said Col. Gregory Anderson, commander of the 173rd Airborne Brigade, according to information released by the Texas Military Department. "Most ceremonies mark either recognition of achievement or a transition. This particular ceremony, for them to don the 173rd patch, is symbolic of their relationship to us and our responsibility to them."
soldiers from the 1245th Transportation Company put on the 1st Cavalry Division patch during a ceremony Aug. 7. The unit will now be assigned to the 1st Cavalry Division Sustainment Brigade as part of an Army Associated Units pilot program.Photo Credit: Sgt. Garett Hernandez/Army Leaders of the 1245th Transportation Company, a medium truck company that is part of the Oklahoma Guard, shared similar sentiments, according to a 1st Cavalry Division news story.
"This gives us a unique training opportunity," said Capt. Aaron Knott, the company commander.
It also gives the unit six additional drill days and 21 extra annual training days to train with the 1st Cavalry Division Sustainment Brigade.
The Associated Units pilot program is part of Milley’s push to emphasize the importance of all three Army components.
In January, he said the Army is working to rely more heavily on the Guard and Reserve and was looking for ways to increase partnerships between the components and add more combat training center rotations for Guard brigades. The U.S. cannot go to war without the Guard or Reserve, Milley said at the time.
"War consumes a lot of assets … and you just can’t get there without the strategic depth that’s necessary and provided by the Guard and Reserve," he said. "War is a national challenges, and, for our part, we cannot execute without the Guard and the Reserve."
The Associated Units pilot began in June and plans call for the Army to test the concept for three years before transferring to full implementation in 2019, according to information from Army officials.
Other Army units that have been paired together include:
Task Force 1-28 Infantry, an infantry battalion at Fort Benning, Georgia, and the Georgia Guard’s 48th Infantry Brigade Combat Team.
1st Battalion, 151st Infantry Regiment from the Indiana Guard and 2nd BCT, 25th Infantry Division at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii.
The Army Reserve’s 100th Battalion, 442nd Infantry Regiment in Hawaii and 3rd BCT, 25th Infantry Division at Schofield Barracks.
The 81st Armored Brigade Combat Team from the Washington Guard and the 7th Infantry Division at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington.
3rd BCT, 10th Mountain Division at Fort Polk, Louisiana, and the Texas Guard’s 36th Infantry Division.
The 86th Infantry Brigade Combat Team from the Vermont Guard and the 10th Mountain Division at Fort Drum, New York.
The Reserve’s 824th Quartermaster Company in North Carolina and the 82nd Sustainment Brigade at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
The 840th Engineer Company from the Texas Guard and the 36th Engineer Brigade at Fort Hood.
The 1176th Transportation Company from the Tennessee Guard and the 2123rd Transportation Company from the Kentucky Guard and the 101st Sustainment Brigade at Fort Campbell, Kentucky.
The 5th Engineer Battalion at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, and the 35th Engineer Brigade from the Missouri Guard.
Michelle Tan is the editor of Army Times and Air Force Times. She has covered the military for Military Times since 2005, and has embedded with U.S. troops in Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait, Haiti, Gabon and the Horn of Africa.