81st Brigade Combat Team Commander Colonel Bryan Grenon and 2ID Association National President John Batty-Sylvan. Photo courtesy of John Batty-Sylvan.
Note: This report is based on an article in the 12/9/2016 Northwest Guardian newspaper by SPC Brianne Kim of the 122nd Public Affairs Operations Center.
For more than 45 years, the Washington National Guard’s 81st Brigade Combat Team has worn the iconic Ravens patch, officially approved for wear in May 1970. On December 3, they adopted the famed Indianhead patch of the 2nd Infantry Division and revealed the new brigade colors symbolizing the unit’s transformation from an armor brigade to a Stryker brigade combat team.
All seven units within the 81st Brigade, along with high-ranking officials from the U.S. Army Forces Command, Army National Guard, Washington National Guard, and 7th Infantry Division filled the Washington National Guard’s Army Aviation Support Facility during the patch and flag-changing ceremony. President John Batty-Sylvan and Executive Committee member Bill Dennis traveled to Joint Base Lewis-McChord to represent the 2nd Indianhead Division Association.
“This is a historic and proud day for the cascade rifle brigade,” said Col. Bryan Grenon, commander of the 81st Brigade, in his opening remarks at the ceremony. “The reflagging ceremony signifies one significant chapter of our history serving as an armored BCT but it solidifies our future as a Stryker brigade.”
“The whole squadron is excited to be a part of the 2nd ID,” said Lt. Col. John Quails, commander of the 1st Battalion, 82nd Cavalry Squadron, 81st Brigade, stationed in Bend Ore. “It is such a historic organization, but it’s kind of sad as well because the National Guard and its patches have earned a name for themselves.”
Although the brigade will wear the 2nd ID patch, it will be aligned with the 7th ID, stationed at Joint Base Lewis-McChord as part of the Army’s Associated Units program. The program was announced in March in response to the Army’s force reduction, creating increased readiness across all components of the Army and further strengthening the One Army concept. The 81st Brigade, 2nd ID, and 7th ID have a great deal of shared history — serving in both world wars, the Cold War and Operation Enduring Freedom to name a few — but this new milestone is expected to strengthen an already sturdy relationship.
“We look forward to seeing this partnership grow and set the stage for how we will train, build readiness and ultimately fight together as one Army in the future when our country calls,” said Maj. Gen. Bret D. Daugherty, the adjutant general, Washington National Guard.
Since transition of the 81st Brigade to a Stryker brigade, the unit will begin actively training with the 7th ID’s 2nd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division.
“One of the reasons we wanted to convert the 81st to a Stryker unit is that we believe it will allow us to have a much closer working relationship with our active-duty brothers and enhance the readiness of both the National Guard and the active-duty units that we will be training with,” Daugherty said.
The change to a Stryker unit requires a nearly complete overhaul of training for the National Guard Soldiers.
“I’m really excited about the new patch and look forward to the cross-training we will have with active-duty forces so we’re more familiar with working together,” said Sgt. Alex Maldonado, Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 161 Infantry Regiment, 81st Brigade.
Gaining a Stryker brigade is a tremendous benefit to not only Washington state but to Oregon and California, who both host units of the 81st Brigade Strykers will be more useful in the event of a future state or regional emergency, such as the inevitable Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake state agencies continuously plan and prepare for.
“The Strykers will have more mobility and versatility to respond to natural disasters within the state of Washington,” said Lt. Gen. Timothy J. Kadavy, director of the Army National Guard.
Grenon said the 81st Brigade is ready to conquer the many challenges associated with converting to a Stryker brigade and being restructured under a new command, adding that both units are ready to let the new structure and the Army’s Associated Units program cement their already strong partnership.
“This transition is not and will not be easy, but the opportunities and the great challenges that come with the transition will make us a stronger brigade,” Grenon said.
“We have enjoyed our phenomenal relationship with the Washington, Oregon and California National Guard for years and look forward to strengthening this partnership through the Associated Unit program,” said Maj. Gen. Thomas S. James, commander of the 7th ID. “We are truly One Army.”
7th ID commander MG Thomas James and 81st BCT Commander COL Bryan Grenon. Photo by the 122nd Public Affairs Operations Center.
Col. Bryan Grenon, right, 81st Brigade commander, and Command Sgt. Maj. Alfonso Cadena, case the brigade’s old colors during their repatching and reflagging ceremony on Joint Base Lewis-McChord Saturday. The exchange of brigade colors is part of the unit’s official transformation from an armored brigade to a Stryker brigade. Photo by the 122nd Public Affairs Operations Center.
Posted by the Membership & Public Relations Committee.