• December 2, 2016

First Team welcomes local National Guard unit with patching ceremony

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Posted: Wednesday, October 19, 2016 4:30 am

The 1st Cavalry Division’s 1st Cavalry Sustainment Brigade welcomed a Texas Army National Guard unit from Killeen into the fold during a patching ceremony Sunday on the division’s Cooper Field.

The 249th Transportation Company, 36th Special Troops Battalion, 36th Sustainment Brigade of the Texas National Guard will become affiliated with the brigade as part of the associated units pilot program, which is meant to help foster teamwork between active duty, reserve and National Guard Army units.

The program allows the units to work more closely together to support each other for future overseas deployments.

“The pilot program is meant to allow active duty, reserve and National Guard members to train together, build readiness together, and fight together as one Army,” public information officer Capt. Jose Caballero said. “After today, they will all be one unit and begin working and training together immediately.”

One reason the joining of the units came about was because of a change in how soldiers from companies of the Army worked together as a result of the War on Terror.

“There was a big shift in the way we conducted business, especially on the National Guard and reserves side, after (Sept. 11, 2001),” said Capt. Lucas Hamilton, 249th Transportation Company commander. “At the end of the day, we’re all U.S. Army, and that’s how it should be. But we’ve actually been pretty integrated for some time now — this just makes the relationships official.”

Since 9/11, Guard and reserve units have often been cobbled together to support whatever active duty unit needed their particular skills during a deployment, which often made integration between the components difficult, he said. The Associated Unit Program fixes that issue by keeping particular units paired in order to spend more time training together and becoming comfortable with how both the active and reserve components do business.

“You’re creating a more singular unit,” said Hamilton, an air conditioner maintenance technician from Sachse, near Dallas. “With that, we’re able to bring our own unique experiences to the active duty side and they are able to bring their experience, what they do as a job 24/7, to help us get better and become more cohesive as a unit.”

Lt. Col. Daryl Morse spoke about the importance of joining these groups together into one cohesive unit. Morse is the commander of Special Troops Battalion, 1st Cavalry Division Sustainment Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division.

“We wanted to create a more closely designed Army that can act with fluidity in different situations,” Morse said. “This is a formalization of the partnerships that have been developed over the years in Iraq.”

The affiliation will not change how the National Guard is mobilized, however. Hamilton said the Department of the Army still has to get permission from a state governor before the unit can be put on active duty for a deployment.

For some of the Guard soldiers, integrating with an active duty unit will come as a “culture shock” as they will be required to always follow the same rules and regulations regarding active duty soldiers, said 1st Sgt. Antonio Mendoza, 249th Transportation Company’s senior noncommissioned officer.

“It’s going to be a bit of an adjustment — stricter rules, more policies and regulation than what we normally work with in the National Guard,” said Mendoza, a civil service supervisor with the Mobilization and Training Equipment Site on North Fort Hood. “I’m sure we’ll adjust well — most of the soldiers I have in the unit are prior service. It’s just like riding a bike.”

The status of the Guard soldiers will continue to work the same way as it did before, he said. The only thing that changed is the company will always know what unit they will deploy with.

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