Texas Guardsmen meet with active duty components to prepare for Associated Pilot Program
Story by: Sgt. Elizabeth Peña
Posted: Aug. 22, 2016
AUSTIN, Texas – Key leaders from the Texas Military Department and active-duty gathered at the round table, August 12, 2016, at Camp Mabry in Austin, Texas, for the Associated Unit Pilot Leadership forum.
The multi-year pilot program was designed to increase the readiness and responsiveness of the U.S. Army, Army National Guard and Army Reserves.
“So for today, and the last 15 years, we’ve been a National Guard that gets mobilized and we work closely with the active duty,” said Maj. Gen. John F. Nichols, the adjutant general of Texas, “but when we aren’t mobilized, we are really two separate partners. This program is trying to bring us more together more of the time.”
This was the first event hosted by Texas since the AUP program was implemented. The meeting gave active duty leaders an idea of what the National Guard does and the different pay statuses that guardsmen can be in.
“Texas has a lot of involvement in the new program with the Army,” said Lt. Col. Stephen J. Koulouch, commander of the 62nd Engineer Battalion, based out of Fort Hood. “So this is a chance for the leadership of the Texas National Guard to kind of bring everyone involved to see each other’s faces.”
Under the new program, select reserve components will be joined with an active duty unit, based on job specialty.
“We have the training schedule for the next fiscal year so we are actually sitting down and going through and seeing where we can integrate with some technical expertise,” said active-duty Command Sgt. Maj. Robert Miles, of the 62nd Eng. Batt., at Fort Hood, Texas.
AUP will help minimize pre-mobilization time, creating a more efficient systematic and approach to future deployments.
“The purpose of the program is to increase readiness in the entire Army,” said Koulouch. “By design our guardsmen have a longer leave time required between mobilizing and actually deploying, and that’s okay, but the intent of this program is to kind of reduce that time that’s required and increase the readiness of some of these Guard units that are getting ready deploy.”
Soldiers can gain knowledge and experience from each other to create a stronger force across the board.
“As a commander of an active battalion,” said Koulouch. “We do many things well and we have many things we want to improve upon. As an engineer, I understand that the majority of the engineer forces in the Army are actually in the Guard and the Reserve, just by nature of the soldiers and their experiences.”
Recently, soldiers from the Texas Army National Guard's 1st Battalion (Airborne), 143rd Infantry Regiment in Austin, Texas, participated in a patch-over ceremony with the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, an active duty unit stationed in Vicenza, Italy.
The patch-over-ceremony symbolizes the 143rd guard unit, becoming a part of the 173rd active unit. Texas guardsmen will wear the patch of the 173rd until 2019.
“We will always carry the historic lineage and honors of the 143rd Infantry Regiment,” said Texas Army National Guard Lt. Col. Kurt J. Cyr, commander, 1st Battalion, 143rd Infantry Regiment (Airborne). “But we are looking forward to beginning a new chapter of history for both the 143rd and the 173rd, together.”
For Texas this was the first big step under the new program. Three more Texas Army National Guard units are scheduled to join active duty units this year. The AUP forum gave key leaders a chance get familiarized and begin to exchange ideas about future operations.
“I appreciate the leadership from the Texas National Guard pulling all leaders from the active side and the guard side; it’s very professional,” said Koulouch. “Over the next two years as my brigade has the association with this unit I’m looking forward to other opportunities for us to benefit.”