'One Army:' Fort Polk, Texas National Guard soldiers train together

Fort Polk, LA. (KALB) Fort Polk is already a historic military installation but some more history is being made there now. The 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division is wrapping up its 'Mountain Peak' exercise with the Texas National Guard's 36th Infantry Division.

Ft. Polk and Texas National Guard soldiers trained together during the 'Mountain Peak" exercise. (Source: KALB)

Every American soldier, active, reserve or National Guard must be ready to deploy at any time as 'One Army'. That's why the Associated Unit Pilot program was launched last year by the Secretary of the Army. The 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division 'Patriots' of Fort Polk and the 36th Infantry Division 'Arrowheads' of the Texas National Guard spent weeks training together and even wore each other’s patches.

“We have to make the lines between the components indistinguishable,” said 3BCT Commander Colonel Brian Sullivan. “And that starts with an active component brigade wearing a National Guard patch but what's more important is...the active component learning from the National Guard and vice versa...and together building the readiness of the total Army.”

The 'Mountain Peak' exercise is a rehearsal for the 'Patriots' rotation at the Joint Readiness Training Center in May. With more than 4,000 soldiers in 3BCT, Col. Sullivan says there are a lot of moving parts.

“Intelligence gathering, indirect fire support, infantry maneuver, engineer protection, and sustainment capability,” he said. “The challenge for a brigade level maneuver is ensuring all those warfighting functions are integrated and synchronized as we advance against the enemy.”

And soldiers in the Texas National Guard's 36 ID helped synchronize those functions. Major David Bird with the 1st Brigade Engineer Battalion, 72nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team says they served as Observer Controller/Trainers.

“To help control the opposition force and the exercise itself to make sure that it runs smoothly and that notional training items are added in to make the training more realistic.”

Training that translates to a battlefield, shared by all components of the U.S. Army

“You can't go to war without the guard so it's very important for us to start training together to see how we all react differently so whenever we get deployed together the cohesion is already built in.”

3BCT and 36th ID are the first two units in the AUP program to participate in a major training exercise together.