CAMP GRUBER, Okla. - Oklahoma Army National Guard Soldiers had a unique experience training with an active duty unit under a pilot program designed to integrate the knowledge and experiences of active and reserve Soldiers last month.

Members of the 1245 Transportation Company (TC) based out of Ada, Oklahoma, partnered with the 96th Transportation Company from Ft. Hood, Texas, to recertify drivers on the largest transportation vehicle in the Army, called the Heavy Equipment Transporter (HET).

"The purpose of this training is to re-certify our Soldiers on the Heavy Equipment Transporter," said Sgt. 1st Class Robert Yates, acting first sergeant and readiness non-commissioned officer for the 1245 TC. "Our Soldiers completed an extensive 80-hour drivers training academy last year with our active duty partners, so they already have a good knowledge base on the HET. Now they just need some time behind the wheel."

Both units trained at Camp Gruber to enhance their driver proficiency skills on the HET by taking part in computer-based interaction training as well as hands-on driving operations which included recertification road tests, convoy operations, vehicle recovery and coupling/uncoupling trailers to the HET.

The HET is the largest wheeled motor vehicle used by the Army. It transports heavily armored vehicles and is capable of hauling the M1A2 Abrams Main Battle Tank that weighs more than 60 tons.

Members of the 96th TC drove 15 HETs from Fort Hood to Camp Gruber, Oklahoma, in order to train together and be able to conduct the recertification.

"The best part is the cohesion we have with our active duty counterparts," said Sgt. Emmanuel Gutierrez, transportation specialist with the 1245 TC. "They operate the HETs every day and they are more than willing to assist in getting our Guard members up to speed on the equipment for future missions."

In support of the Army's Total Force Policy, the Army Associated Unit Pilot Program (AUPP) assigns Guard and Reserve units to higher echelon active duty units. This program couples similar units to integrate training across Army components.

"Our Soldiers are the only Oklahoma Guardsman trained on the HET and to be selected to participate in the AUPP program is an honor," Yates said.

The 1245th TC is one of sixteen National Guard transportation companies across the United States participating in this pilot program. They are assigned to the 1st Cavalry Division Sustainment Brigade.

In August 2016, the Soldiers of 1245 TC met with representatives from the 1st CDSB at a patching ceremony where they donned the higher echelon's unit patch, formalizing their partnership.

Soldiers from the 1245 TC received initial training on the HET in 2016 while training with their active duty counterparts at Fort Hood.

"We look forward to assisting our counterparts in HET vehicle operations in future deployments," Yates said.