The Associated Units pilot will begin this summer by teaming up about two dozen active Army units with various Guard and Reserve units.
"Much of America's Army's capacity is resident in the Reserve Components, and we must rely more heavily on them to meet the demands of a complex global environment," Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army, Gen. Mark Milley said today in an Army press release. "The Associated Units pilot allows us to leverage the capabilities and capacities of the active component, Army Reserve and the Army National Guard as one Army."
The first of these unit associations will occur in Georgia. The 1st Battalion, 28th Infantry Regiment, an active-Army infantry battalion stationed on Fort Benning will be associated with the 48th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, a Georgia Army National Guard unit.
The 48th Infantry Brigade, meanwhile, will also be associated with the active component's 3rd Infantry Division, stationed on Fort Stewart, Georgia.
"The soldiers of Task Force 1-28 and the soldiers of the Georgia Army National Guard's 48th Infantry Brigade will wear the patch of the 3rd Infantry Division," Lt. Gen. Timothy J. Kadavy, Director of the Army National Guard said.
"This brigade will train and, if called to do so, deploy and fight with the 3rd Infantry Division as an Associated Unit. These units will develop relationships and standards in home station so they may fight together in combat without having to meet on the battlefield and figure these things out."
That afternoon, lawmakers from the House Appropriations Committee's Defense Subcommittee discussed the new pilot program with Guard and Reserve leaders.
Subcommittee Chairman Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, R-New Jersey, asked if the pilot will mean that "Guard and Reserve will bring their worn out equipment to the battlespace or does everybody train on what the regular Army is doing?"
Lt. Gen. Timothy Kadavy Director Army National Guard told lawmakers that these units are scheduled to have full-operating capability by early Fiscal 2018.
There will have to be "programing actions" made 2018 and beyond to ensure Milley's intent for everyone to have the same capabilities, Kadavy said.
"The intent is for them to have the exact same signal equipment; the exact same wheeled vehicles as part of that team," he said.
Frelinghuysen said he was impressed with Milley's presentation of the pilot.
"The good thing about Gen. Milley's presentation today -- he was so emphatic that there would be one Army that it was sort of let known that if some people didn't like where he was going they could exit the stage. I like that," he said.
Rep. John Carter, R-Texas, said he was concerned that the new pilot will create more strain on the Guard and Reserve.
"It takes 90 to 100 days to stand up a unit," he said. "This will probably increase more training days on top of those training days. ... And what it does it do to the citizen-soldier concept of the guy back home that's got a job?
Gen. Frank J. Grass, chief of the National Guard Bureau, said that a recent survey showed that 92 percent of company-grade officers from the Army and Air National Guard said "it's either about right or they would like to deploy more."
"The younger ones that haven't deployed are looking for a deployment," Grass said.
"The associations would probably give us more opportunities, but we cannot break our model of 39 days a year as far as the baseline, and I hear that from the town halls. ... But what we find is there is probably well over 80 percent of the Guard that is doing more than that time right now."
Grass said that currently families and employers are still supporting the current pace of operations.
"We have a unit that is getting ready to deploy with the 101st Airborne right now through a training association," he said. "They know that they had to put in extra days to get ready to go so as long as they know their mission, and they know this is going to make them more ready."
In addition to the Georgia-based units, the following additional units will be involved in the Associated Units pilot this summer:
-- The 1st Battalion, 143 Infantry Regiment from the Texas Army National Guard will be associated to the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team stationed in Vicenza, Italy;
-- The 1st Battalion, 151 Infantry Regiment from the Indiana Army National Guard will be associated to the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division stationed in Schofield Barracks, Hawaii;
-- The Hawaii-based 100th Battalion, 442 Infantry Regiment, U.S. Army Reserve, will be associated with the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division stationed in Schofield Barracks, Hawaii;
-- The 81st Armored Brigade Combat Team, Washington Army National Guard, will be associated with the 7th Infantry Division stationed in Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington;
-- The 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, stationed in Fort Polk, Louisiana, will be associated with the Texas Army National Guard's 36th Infantry Division;
-- The 86th Infantry Brigade Combat Team from the Vermont Army National Guard will be associated with the 10th Mountain Division, stationed in Fort Drum, New York;
-- The North Carolina-based 824th Quartermaster Company, U.S. Army Reserve, will be associated with the 82nd Sustainment Brigade, stationed in Fort Bragg, North Carolina;
-- The 249th Transportation Company, Texas Army National Guard, and the 1245th Transportation Company, Oklahoma Army National Guard, will be associated with the 1st Cavalry Division Sustainment Brigade, stationed in Fort Hood, Texas;
-- The 840th Engineer Company, Texas Army National Guard, will be associated with the 36th Engineer Brigade, stationed in Fort Hood, Texas;
-- The 1176th Transportation Company, Tennessee Army National Guard and the 2123rd Transportation Company, Kentucky Army National Guard, will be associated with the 101st Sustainment Brigade, stationed in Fort Campbell, Kentucky; and
-- The 5th Engineer Battalion, stationed in Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, will be associated with the 35th Engineer Brigade from the Missouri Army National Guard.
-- Matthew Cox can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org