Col. Mark Quander, commander of the 36th Engineer Brigade, based in Fort Hood, Texas, removes removed their unit patch and replaces with 36th patch during a patch-over ceremony at Cherry Park in Weatherford, Texas, Oct. 15, 2016. Texas Army National Guard’s 840th Mobility Augmentation Company, based in Grand Praire joined efforts with the 36th Engineer Brigade, out of Fort Hood. The partnering of forces is the result of the Associated Unit Pilot Program, which is designed to increase the readiness and responsiveness of the Army as a total force. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by: Sgt. Elizabeth Pena)
Col. Mark Quander, commander of the 36th Engineer Brigade, based in Fort Hood, Texas, conducts a patch-over during a ceremony at Cherry Park in Weatherford, Texas, Oct. 15, 2016. Texas Army National Guard’s 840th Mobility Augmentation Company "Maniacs", based in Grand Praire joined efforts with the 36th Engineer Brigade, out of Fort Hood. The partnering of forces is the result of the Associated Unit Pilot Program, which is designed to increase the readiness and responsiveness of the Army as a total force. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by: Sgt. Elizabeth Pena)

Texas Army National Guard Engineers partner with Active Duty in Pilot Program

Story by: Sgt. Elizabeth Peña

Posted: Oct. 19, 2016

WEATHERFORD, Texas – Guardsmen from Texas Army National Guard’s 840th Mobility Augmentation Company, based in Grand Prairie joined efforts with the 36th Engineer Brigade, out of Fort Hood, during a patch-over ceremony at Cherry Park in Weatherford, Texas, Oct. 15, 2016.

“Today should be one of both quiet reflections but also great anticipation, looking back where our Army has been partnering the reserve and active component, but also where our Army is going as we try to find ways to improve and increase readiness in some different innovative ways,” said Col. Mark Quander, commander of the 36th Eng. Brig.

During the ceremony, service members of the 840th MAC removed their unit patch and put on the 36th Eng. Brig. patch.

“While it’s a simple action changing the patches in the Army is a symbol of who you are, what you are a part of and what your mission is,” said Texas Army National Guard Rear Detachment Lt. Col. Paul Cerniaskas, brigade commander (rear) of the 176th Eng. Brig. “Changing patches is significant and necessary to make the Associated Unit Pilot program a success and it is the right thing to do.”

The partnering of forces is the result of the Associated Unit Pilot Program, which is designed to increase the readiness and responsiveness of the Army as a total force. 

“It’s an honor and privilege to be here as we chart a new course toward the integrations of our total force,” said Quander. “After significant downsizing in our forces over the past five or six years, the demands for our forces in Iraq, Afghanistan and across the world continue to remain elevated.”

This multi-year pilot program pairs Active-Duty units with those in the Army Reserve and Army National Guard so they can train together as well as includes an exchange of assigned personnel. 

“For the engineer regiment, this close integration between the 36th and the 176th is nothing new,” said Quander. “The associated unit takes that partnership a little bit farther establishing a more formal relationship between the active component and the reserve component.”
 
A total of 27 units have been selected to undergo the pilot; four of those units come from the Texas Army National Guard. These units will train, build readiness and ultimately fight as one Army.

“What mobility augmentation company does is breach a bypass,” said National Guard Capt. Aaron McConnell, commander of the 840th MAC. “If we run across an infantry, maneuver company or a brigade ever comes across an obstacle - they call us.  I send my first or second platoon out there depending on what needs to happen and we either blow it up or put a bridge over it. Then our third platoon sets up obstacles to keep bad guys from coming in.”

Last year, the 840th MAC trained with an active duty unit at the National Training Center in Fort Irwin, California and a guardsman from the engineer unit was able to perform mechanical operations on a broken down vehicle during a mission.

“The sergeant major of the active duty unit was with us, and his Humvee deadlined,” said McConnell. “That’s four hours we have to waste for field maintenance team. Sgt. Keith, who is our mechanic, we call him our “MacGyver” we tell him run back there and fix it and he does, because that’s what he does on the day side.”

There are many benefits that come from training alongside the active components as well. 
 
“They’ve got real estate,” said McConnell. “Our highly motivated soldiers have the opportunity to train more. Which is what a lot of them want to do, it’s why they are here, they like training and blowing things up and reducing obstacles.”

Association enables integration of formations from units of different components prior to mobilization through collective training.

“From my personal experience while deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, that’s how we as an organization normally operate. A unit’s component didn’t matter in a deployed environment, what mattered is how ready you were to do the mission and the team building that occurred,” said Cerniaskas. “That’s what the AUP program is all about; maximizing readiness, and building teams in advance of a mission. So we are making partnership the norm and it will make us stronger as an Army and better prepared when our nation calls.”

“Today should be one of both quiet reflections but also great anticipation, looking back where our Army has been partnering the reserve and active component, but also where our Army is going as we try to find ways to improve and increase readiness in some different innovative ways,” said Col. Mark Quander, commander of the 36th Eng. Brig.

During the ceremony, service members of the 840th MAC removed their unit patch and put on the 36th Eng. Brig. patch.

“While it’s a simple action changing the patches in the Army is a symbol of who you are, what you are a part of and what your mission is,” said Texas Army National Guard Lt. Col. Paul Cerniaskas, brigade commander (rear) of the 176th Eng. Brig. “Changing patches is significant and necessary to make the Associated Unit Pilot program a success and it is the right thing to do.”

The partnering of forces is the result of the AUP Program, which is designed to increase the readiness and responsiveness of the Army as a total force. 

“It’s an honor and privilege to be here as we chart a new course toward the integrations of our total force,” said Quander. “After significant downsizing in our forces over the past five or six years, the demands for our forces in Iraq, Afghanistan and across the world continue to remain elevated.”

This multi-year pilot program pairs Active-Duty units with those in the Army Reserve and Army National Guard so they can train together as well as includes an exchange of assigned personnel. 

“For the engineer regiment, this close integration between the 36th and the 176th is nothing new,” said Quander. “The associated unit takes that partnership a little bit farther establishing a more formal relationship between the active component and the reserve component.”
 
A total of 27 units have been selected to undergo the pilot; four of those units come from the Texas Army National Guard. These units will train, build readiness and ultimately fight as one Army.
“What mobility augmentation company does is breach a bypass,” said National Guard Capt. Aaron McConnell, commander of the 840th MAC. “If we run across an infantry, maneuver company or a brigade ever comes across an obstacle - they call us.  I send my first or second platoon out there depending on what needs to happen and we either blow it up or put a bridge over it. Then our third platoon sets up obstacles to keep bad guys from coming in.”

Last year, the 840th MAC trained with an active duty unit at the National Training Center in Fort Irwin, California and a guardsman from the engineer unit was able to perform mechanical operations on a broken down vehicle during a mission.

“The sergeant major of the active duty unit was with us, and his Humvee deadlined,” said McConnell. “That’s four hours we have to waste for field maintenance team. Sgt. Keith, who is our mechanic, we call him our “MacGyver” we tell him run back there and fix it and he does, because that’s what he does on the day side.”

There are many benefits that come from training alongside the active components as well. 
 
“They’ve got real estate,” said McConnell. “Our highly motivated soldiers have the opportunity to train more. Which is what a lot of them want to do, it’s why they are here, they like training and blowing things up and reducing obstacles.”

Association enables integration of formations from units of different components prior to mobilization through collective training.

“From my personal experience while deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, that’s how we as an organization normally operate. A unit’s component didn’t matter in a deployed environment, what mattered is how ready you were to do the mission and the team building that occurred,” said Cerniaskas. “That’s what the AUP program is all about; maximizing readiness, and building teams in advance of a mission. So we are making partnership the norm and it will make us stronger as an Army and better prepared when our nation calls.”