The Missouri National Guard's 35th Engineer Brigade and the active duty 5th Engineer Battalion held a patching ceremony to symbolize the beginning of their partnership through the Army's Associated Unit Pilot Program at Fort Leonard Wood on Monday.

The ceremony involved Soldiers assigned to the 5th Engineer Battalion removing the 36th Engineer Brigade patch from their left shoulder and replacing it with the patch of the Missouri Guard's 35th Engineers.

"Both of these units have served with distinction overseas," said Maj. Gen. Steve Danner, the Adjutant General of Missouri. "They are made up of a combination of combat veterans and fresh Soldiers who stand ready to make a difference in the world."

The pilot program allows the two units to train together more closely on their shared missions, said Col. Anthony Adrian, 35th Engineer Brigade commander.

It establishes formal relationships across the active-duty Army, Reserve and National Guard, which will allow units to train together before deploying, he added.

"It will benefit Soldiers in both units," Adrian said. "It helps us to be better coordinated, better synchronized and eventually, if needed, we could deploy together and bring that synergy and synchronization and warfighting experience to the battlefield together."

Selected units from the active Army, Army Reserve and Army National Guard will form Associated Unit formations to train and build readiness together, said Lt. Col. Jaqueline Reini, 5th Engineer Battalion commander.

"It's a great opportunity for the 5th Engineer Battalion in that we'll have a higher headquarters to work alongside here at Fort Leonard Wood," Reini said, "as well as being able to push my companies out to do joint training with their fellow sister companies within the National Guard."

Nearly 70 percent of the Army's engineer units are in the reserve components.

During deployments, active engineer units like the 5th will inevitably work with Reserve Soldiers. The program allows that partnership to extend into their time at their home station, Reini said.

Both commanders see the partnership as an opportunity to build readiness and capitalize on joint training while in Missouri as well as during deployments.

"It's an honor to be associated with such a great battalion," Adrian said. "The 5th Engineers are a storied unit; they have a great history, and we're honored to have them as part of the 35th Engineer Brigade and to wear that patch. We look forward to working closer with them and helping each other build readiness."