FORT POLK, La. — Throughout the Army’s history, one thing has been a constant and inevitable force in the Army: change. Things change, whether it’s tactics, equipment, training doctrine or even uniforms and units. The 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry) will soon take part in a program that has the potential to foster positive change not only within the active Army, but in the National Guard and Reserve components as well.
Beginning in October, Soldiers, noncommissioned officers and officers from the Patriot Brigade will trade in their New York-based 10th Mountain Division patch for a patch a little closer to their home in Louisiana, donning the arrowhead shaped patch of the Texas-based 36th Infantry Division.
The 3rd BCT will take part in an Army pilot program that creates a partnership between active-duty and Reserve components. By placing an active-duty unit with a National Guard unit, the Army hopes the units use their strengths to increase combat effectiveness. The program falls in line with the Army Total Force Program, an ongoing effort to transform the Reserves and National Guard into an operational force expected to operate seamlessly with the active Army.
“With the Associated Unit Pilot, the Army is using the association of active component and Reserve component units to enhance the readiness of the Reserve component so we can reduce post-mobilization training requirements for the National Guard,” said Col. Brian Sullivan, 3rd BCT commander. “That way, if we need to conduct large scale operations, we can deploy the Total Army of 980,000 versus just the active component of about 450,000.”
While the AUP is being instituted with select units across the Army, the partnership between 3rd BCT and the 36th Infantry Division will be noteworthy.
“What makes this so unique for 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, is that we are the only active component unit that is being associated with a National Guard division headquarters,” said Sullivan. “Consequently, we will be the only active component unit in the Army that will bear the shoulder sleeve insignia of a National Guard unit.”
While the Patriot Brigade will soon be wearing a Texas-based patch, Sullivan stresses that this new partnership will not impact troop levels at Fort Polk, but will bring something remarkable and unprecedented to the table.
“First and foremost, there are no implications for Fort Polk force structure: The brigade is going to remain here,” Sullivan said. “The fact that the 3rd Brigade Combat Team is part of this pilot, combined with the fact that it’s unique within the pilot, in the terms that we’re the only ones to bear the shoulder sleeve insignia of a National Guard Unit, I think that’s a great opportunity for Fort Polk and is an opportunity for us to achieve something very significant for the Army.”
Sullivan added that there are many benefits to the partnership between the 36th Infantry Division and the Patriot Brigade.
“There is inherent goodness in bringing the components together,” said Sullivan. “I will be especially proud to wear the 36th Infantry Division patch."