SYRACUSE, N.Y. - Members of the newest unit of the New York Army National Guard are wearing the patch of the Fort Drum-based 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry).

Activated on Sept. 1 at the Thompson Road Armory in Syracuse, the 10th Mountain Division Main Command Post Operational Detachment, known as a MCP-OD, is designed to augment the 10th Mountain Division's command post during combat deployments.

"The Soldiers of the command post detachment and their mission will play a key role in the combat readiness of the 10th Mountain Division headquarters," said Major General Anthony German, the Adjutant General of New York. "This new organization reinforces our value as a ready and relevant force. This is a great mission for our Citizen Soldiers that benefits both the Army Guard and the Army."

At full strength the MCP-OD will have 91 Soldiers, including five members of the Army Reserve, said Lt. Col. Wing Yu, the unit's administrative officer.

The 10th Mountain Division MCP-OD, and other MCP-ODs being stood up by the Army National Guard around the country, are designed to allow the Army to save manpower in their Active Duty division headquarters, Yu explained.

Congressional budget actions resulted in the redesign of active duty division headquarters being reduced from around 600 plus Soldiers to around 500 Soldiers.

Reduced manning produces capability gaps that must be filled when a division deploys to a combat zone and conducts around the clock operations or multiple operations, Yu said.

So the Army decided to supplement these reduced division staffs with Guard and Reserve Soldiers holding critical skills when the time comes to deploy to a combat zone, Yu said.

The 10th Mountain Division MCP-OD, for example, has slots for 35 intelligence specialists, who are not necessary in a garrison and training environment, but are critical for warfighting, he added.

The unit is allocated 91 National Guard Soldiers: 19 officers, a warrant officer, 35 non-commissioned officers and 36 enlisted Soldiers. There are five Army Reserve Soldiers - holding Civil Affairs and psychological operations slots.

There are four full-time Army National Guard Soldiers assigned to the unit.

"The inclusion of the Soldiers of the New York Army National Guard into the planning, resourcing and training of the command post will directly improve readiness, and increase capacity and capability during mobilization and deployment of the division headquarters," said Major General Jeffrey L. Bannister, commander of the 10th Mountain Division. "I am proud to welcome the members of the Main Command Post Operational Detachment to the 10th Mountain Team."

Commanded by Lt. Col. Michael Bice, who becomes a liaison officer when the MCP-OD deploys, the unit is currently at about 14 percent strength and is actively recruiting Soldiers.

The Syracuse location provides new options for National Guard Soldiers living in western and central New York who might have formally had to drive to the Albany area or the Hudson Valley in order to find a slot that matches their military occupational specialty, Yu said.

The 10th Mountain Division MCP-OD normally comes under the command of the New York Army National Guard's Troy-based 42nd Infantry Division. When the 10th Mountain Division deploys the MCP-OD Soldiers will either deploy with the 10th Division headquarters or perform support duties at Fort Drum.

One model of using the new division headquarters structure is to deploy the division tactical operations center into the combat zone while the division main command post remains at home station, Yu explained.

With smaller numbers of Soldiers in the combat theater it may not be necessary to deploy the division main command post, as the 42nd Infantry Division did in Iraq in 2005, he explained. Soldiers at home station can evaluate intelligence, and produce planning products and transmit them to theater via secure computer networks, he said.

The MCP-OD Soldiers will also train with the 10th Mountain Division Soldiers on a regular basis, Yu said. This will benefit the New York Army National Guard as officers, NCOs and enlisted Soldiers learn the latest techniques and tactics from their Active Army counterparts and bring that knowledge back into the New York unit, he added.