FORT POLK, LA, UNITED STATES
Story by: Staff Sgt. Nathan Akridge
3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division Public Affairs
POLK, La. – Soldiers from the 3rd Brigade, 10th Mountain Division (LI) “Patriots” trained side by side with members of the 36th Infantry Division “Arrowhead” during the Mountain Peak exercise here at Fort Polk, writing history together as the first two units in the Associated Unit Pilot program, or AUP, to participate in a major training event together.
In September 2016, the Patriot Brigade became the only Active Duty brigade combat team to wear a National Guard Patch. By partnering an Active Duty brigade with a National Guard unit, the Army hoped to drastically cut the time needed for the National Guard to prepare for a deployment.
Col. Brian Sullivan, commander, 3BCT, said that this training exercise shows that the AUP program is more than just a patch change.
“The pilot has specific benchmark events that assess the effectiveness of the particular associations increasing readiness. For 3/10 and 36 ID, our benchmark for this year is our JRTC rotation in May,” said Sulllivan. “Mountain Peak serves as a critical rehearsal to ensure we are successful at JRTC. Right now there are 80 Soldiers from the 72nd IBCT [Infantry Brigade Combat Team], 36th ID serving as the exercise control for Mountain Peak, which means a National Guard IBCT from 36th ID is training its sister Active Component BCT 3/10.”
Col. Sullivan also stresses that the AUP partnership has already paid dividends to the Soldiers of 3BCT.
“3/10 has already benefitted greatly from our association with 36th ID,” said Sullivan. “The knowledge of their Division Master Gunner exceeds any on active duty I've known. Without him, we would not have been able to train our cavalry squadron to standard.”
Col. Clarence Henderson, 72nd IBCT Commander, said that both the 72nd and 3BCT leadership have a specific goal in mind.
“We are aligning the activities we are conducting between our two units with Gen. Abram’s and Gen. Milley’s intent, which is readiness is our number one priority,” said Henderson. “This is our first opportunity to partner with 3/10 and develop and mature the AUP program, as well as share the challenges that our units face.”
Soldiers from the 36th Infantry Division participated in all facets of the training during Mountain Peak, including the preparation, planning, and execution phases of the exercise. Command Sgt. Maj. Richard Sublett, Command Sgt. Maj. of the 72nd IBCT, a Soldier with 34 years of service, 13 of which were on Active Duty, said the AUP program has helped both the Active Duty and National Guard units involved.
“It gives us a better insight on lessons learned from the Active Duty side to the National Guard side and vice versa,” said Sublett. “What do we each do better than the other? It’s more of a best practices, what we learn from you and what you learn from us.”
Both sides profited tremendously from the training. Maj. Philip Waggoner, the 3BCT Plans and Operations Officer in Charge, said the National Guard enhanced the effectiveness and training value of the Mountain Peak exercise.
“I think this exercise proves that the National Guard and active duty components are very capable of working together. 36th ID, 10th Mountain Division, and 3BCT have conducted integrated planning on this exercise since October to make it a worthwhile training event for the 3BCT Soldiers. 36th ID’s ability to send personnel to serve as the EXCON [exercise control] and OC/Ts [observer controller/trainer] is truly valuable not only to making the exercise run properly, but provide critical lessons learned to make the BCT better during JRTC and in combat.”
So as the Army goes rolling along, the AUP program charges full speed ahead, strengthening the bond between our Active Duty and National Guard forces.