Active-duty Soldiers not happy with Secretary’s decision to swap patches with the National Guard

Members of the 1245th Transportation Company, 90th Troop Command, Oklahoma Army National Guard, removed their Thunderbird patch and replaced it with the 1st Cavalry Division patch in a ceremony held August 7. The 1245th will take part in a five-year pilot program where they will train with the 1st Cavalry Division. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class LaSonya Johnson)

One of the most iconic divisions in the US Army will be sharing their unit insignia with… a transportation unit in the National Guard?

In a story that is sure to ruffle the feathers of many a “Screaming Eagle,” a component of the legendary 101st Airborne Division conducted a ceremony at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, allowing members of the Tennessee National Guard’s 1176th Transportation Company to don the 101st’s iconic “Screaming Eagle” patch.

The 101st Sustainment Brigade of the 101st Airborne Division conducted the ceremony on October 23rd in an effort to signify a “new relationship” under the Army’s new “Associated Units” pilot program.

The AU Program -initiated earlier this year by Secretary of the Army Eric Fanning-  was created to foster a connection between active and Reserve Component units (the Army National Guard and Army Reserves).

Initiated in the spring of this year, the Army says the Associated Units program is a three-year experiment “of a new concept to increase readiness and responsiveness of the Army as a total force. The pilot leverages the Secretary of the Army’s authority to associate units of the Reserve Components (Army Reserve and Army National Guard) with Active Component units for training oversight prior to mobilization.”

Chief of Army Reserve and Commanding General, U.S. Army Reserve Command Lt. Gen. Jeffrey W. Talley said that “The Associated Units pilot facilitates readiness and strategic depth across components. These units will train, build readiness and ultimately fight as one Army.”

According to the Leaf-Chronicle, the AU program currently includes 27 units from all branches.

“The great leadership that we have in our Army today came up with the idea, because we’re at such low numbers, to integrate our units and make sure that we’re ready on day one, not day sixty, or day seventy, or day eighty,” said Maj. Gen. Max Haston, Tennessee’s Adjutant General.

That said, not everyone is happy about it- especially the active duty units.

“They didn’t earn that patch,” said one NCO of the 101st Sustainment Brigade in a private message to Popular Military. “This seems like a ‘feel good’ program where [National Guard] units can play with the big boys.”

In a case of “tracers going both ways”, 3rd Brigade, 10th Mountain Division -stationed in Fort Polk, Louisiana- was patched over to the Texas National Guard’s “T” patch.

“It was like watching 900 dudes get kicked in the balls at once,” said one 10th Mountain officer, who wished to remain anonymous. “We are the only active unit that got patched over…Now everyone thinks we are in the Guard.”

Depending on the success of the pilot, the Associated Units program may continue well beyond the proposed 2019 end date.

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  • Andy Wolf

    Andy Wolf is an Appalachian native who spent much of his youth and young adulthood overseas in search of combat, riches, and adventure- accruing decades of experience in military, corporate, first responder, journalistic and advisory roles. He resides in North Carolina's Blue Ridge Mountains with his K9 companion, Kiki.

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