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7th ID commander chats adding Guard to division

81st Brigade of the Washington Army National Guard joins Task Force Bayonet

Soldiers from the Washington Army National Guard’s 81st Brigade monitor the status of an injured colleague as they wait for choppers to land at Sanderson Field in Shelton, Wash., as part of exercise Cascadia Rising in June. (Photo by 194th Wing)

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We continue to be amazed by the character, competence and commitment of our Soldiers at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. Task Force Bayonet continues to build combat ready brigades that are globally responsive and regionally engaged. This week, we would like to highlight an addition to our team.

We are excited to officially welcome the 81st Brigade of the Washington Army National Guard to the Task Force Bayonet Family. The 81st Bde. comes to us as part of the Army’s Associated Unit Pilot Program. This addition in combat power helps us set the stage for how we will train, build readiness and ultimately fight as “One Army” in the future.

Our new teammates from the 81st Bde. are headquartered in Seattle but have units spread across the states of Washington, Oregon and California. They were constituted on Sept. 19, 1917, as Headquarters 81st Brigade, and just like the 7th Infantry Division, they will celebrate 100 years of service to our nation in 2017.

The 81st Bde. makes up nearly one half of the Washington Army National Guard, with approximately 2,900 Citizen Soldiers from nearly every community in Washington state filling its ranks.

In March, the Army launched the Associated Unit Pilot Program to test the Total Army concept for generating reserve force combat power. The 7th Infantry Division is one of 13 active Army units to participate.

The goal of this program is to sustain at a high level of readiness which reduces their post-mobilization training requirements, if and when they are activated.

This pilot program is important and we must do our part to get this right. Since much of the Army’s capacity resides outside the active component, we must rely more on our teammates in the Guard and Reserve to meet the demands of a global environment.

The pilot program will also allow associated units to sustain the elevated level of experience, readiness and integration we have developed during the last 15 years of fighting. Additionally, it will enhance relationships and increase interoperability, training opportunities and, when necessary, deployment opportunities between active and reserve component units.

The key to our success in this program will be fully embracing the 81st Bde. and making their Soldiers feel and live the One Army concept, by incorporating them into as many of our training, social and community events as possible. I have no doubt the 81st Bde. will be an outstanding addition to Task Force Bayonet.

The 81st Bde. comes to us with a significant amount of combat experience in the Middle East, deploying multiple times in support of Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom since 2001. The brigade deployed more than 3,000 Soldiers to Kuwait and Iraq from February 2004 to May 2005 and again in August 2008 to August 2009, supporting stability operations in Iraq.

We hope to take advantage of the experience they gained in combat and share it across Task Force Bayonet.

Currently, the 81st Bde. is transitioning from an Armored Brigade Combat Team to a Stryker Brigade Combat Team. We look forward to conducting our “patch-over” ceremony with them in December at JBLM. They will officially switch from their traditional “Raven” patch to the 2nd Infantry Division patch, the same patch all Stryker units wear in Task Force Bayonet, as a sign of our new relationship.

Welcome Task Force Raven!

Bayonet! Trust In Me!

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