Posts From January, 2016

Texas State Guard 2nd Regiment Trains in Erath County, Texas 

Texas State Guard 2nd Regiment Trains in Erath County, Texas

Story by:  Spc. Stefan Wray, 2nd Regiment PAO

Posted On: January 30, 2016

STEPHENVILLE, Texas – Seventy-seven officers, warrant officers and enlisted soldiers from the Army Command Component’s 2nd Regiment traveled to north Texas to participate in a joint Texas State Guard exercise and engage in additional emergency response training at locations based out of Tarleton State University, Stephenville, Texas, January 21-24, 2016.

Over a four-day period, the 2nd Regiment, under the command of Col. Robert Woodmansee, joined with the 4th and 19th regiments as well as elements from the Texas State Guard 3rd Battalion, Texas Medical Brigade, and 3rd Battalion Texas Maritime Regiment to train for possible natural or manmade disasters at various locations in Erath County, Texas.

Staff Sgt. Michael Mills, Spc. Adam Poncher, Spc. Kelly Bach, and 1st Lt. Lana Cameron, 2nd Regiment, Texas State Guard, review registration documents at the mass care shelter at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Stephenville, Texas, January 22, 2016.  Mass care sheltering is an essential skill that the Texas State Guard can provide to assist local residents during an emergency. (Photo by Spc. Stefan Wray, 2nd Regiment/ Released)
Staff Sgt. Michael Mills, Spc. Adam Poncher, Spc. Kelly Bach, and 1st Lt. Lana Cameron, 2nd Regiment, Texas State Guard, review registration documents at the mass care shelter at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Stephenville, Texas, January 22, 2016.  Mass care sheltering is an essential skill that the Texas State Guard can provide to assist local residents during an emergency. (Photo by Spc. Stefan Wray, 2nd Regiment/ Released)

The exercises around Erath County included a simulated hurricane disaster that spawned several tornadoes.  This disaster scenario provided soldiers with training experience in mass care sheltering and evacuations.  

“This training allows the 2nd Regiment to not only establish shelters, but also exercise the ability of our staff to plan, as well as react to changing scenarios in the local community,” stated Woodmansee.  

“The 2nd Regiment responded quickly to a simulated disaster in Stephenville, Texas.  We activated three mass care shelters.  Local residents, acting as role players seeking assistance, came to the shelters. Simultaneously, we conducted training in Ground Search and Recovery operations."

Soldiers from the 2nd Regiment traveled to regimental headquarters in Gatesville, Texas, while the advance team went on to the National Guard Army in Stephenville, Texas, January 21.  The main body of the regiment arrived in Stephenville, January 22.

Sgt. Susan Simmons, 2nd Regiment, Texas State Guard, checks the blood pressure of a role player in a mock exercise at the mass care shelter at the Valley Grove Baptist Church, Stephenville, Texas, January 22, 2016. Mass care sheltering is a skill that the Texas State Guard can provide to assist local residents during an emergency. (Photo by Spc. Stefan Wray, 2nd Regiment/Released)
Sgt. Susan Simmons, 2nd Regiment, Texas State Guard, checks the blood pressure of a role player in a mock exercise at the mass care shelter at the Valley Grove Baptist Church, Stephenville, Texas, January 22, 2016. Mass care sheltering is a skill that the Texas State Guard can provide to assist local residents during an emergency. (Photo by Spc. Stefan Wray, 2nd Regiment/Released)

"This is a wonderful opportunity for us not only to work with the people of Stephenville, but also to coordinate with numerous civilian agencies such as local law enforcement, emergency management services and the Red Cross,” noted Woodmansee.
    
At Tarleton State University the 2nd Regiment’s activities were based out of Wisdom Gymnasium at Tarleton.  Soldiers billeted there and used nearby classrooms to establish headquarters for the regiment and its three battalions. Upon arrival among the first activities were to set up radio communications and computer workstations in the tactical operation centers (TOCs). In addition a web-based emergency information management system called WebEOC was used to track movements and manage resource requests.

“This exercise was an excellent training to test our communications capability,” said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Darrell Prather, 2nd Regiment. “We had soldiers at the shelters communicating by radio with our regimental TOC and our TOC with the headquarters of the entire operation. This very much mimicked what we would have to do in a real-world situation, especially if cell towers were knocked out. We also tested our capability using WebEOC."

Upon arrival at Tarleton, the regiment's three battalions conducted a survey of local buildings and churches as possible sites for mass care shelters.  Then each battalion initiated shelter operations, January 22-23.  Locations included St Luke’s Episcopal Church, First Baptist Church and Valley Grove Baptist Church, Stephenville, Texas. Each battalion had a shelter manager who supervised the set up space for the initial reception desk, check-in areas, sleeping areas for guests, and medical  facilities.  Local volunteers served as role players pretending to be evacuees needing shelter.

Pfc. Kristin Galaviz, 2nd Regiment, Texas State Guard, practices radio communication during a points of distribution exercise at the First Presbyterian Church in Stephenville, Texas, January 23, 2016.  Providing food and water distribution points is a skill that the Texas State Guard can provide to assist local residents during an emergency. (Photo by Spc. Stefan Wray, 2nd Regiment/Released)
Pfc. Kristin Galaviz, 2nd Regiment, Texas State Guard, practices radio communication during a points of distribution exercise at the First Presbyterian Church in Stephenville, Texas, January 23, 2016.  Providing food and water distribution points is a skill that the Texas State Guard can provide to assist local residents during an emergency. (Photo by Specialist Stefan Wray, 2nd Regiment/Released)

In addition, each of the battalions set up a mock points of distribution where during an emergency soldiers would distribute food, water, and ice to local residents.   

Pfc. Kristin Galaviz, 2nd Regiment, stated that "with all our missions communications is very important to our day-to-day operations, including points of distribution.  I am working and training with the best communications team. We work as a team to troubleshoot and come up with solutions." 

Other soldiers trained in ground search and rescue at Hunewell Ranch, in Erath County.  Assisting in the training was Mark9 (K-9) Search and Rescue, Dallas, Texas, and Lone Star Search and Rescue (K-9) teams from Wylie, Texas.  These teams instructed soldiers on how to search with dog teams in support of search, rescue and recovery operations.

“The instructors and members were very enthusiastic and had the upmost dedication”, said Staff Sgt.Chris Gano. “Interaction with the K-9’s at the night exercise was a highpoint to the training.  Our soldiers have earned a well-deserved certification in search and rescue.”

Another training took place at the Tarleton Challenge Rope Course where soldiers had the opportunity to participate in confidence and leadership tasks. According to Tarleton State University officials, the course is designed to “provide training in the areas of problem solving, interpersonal skills, communications and values explored through a series of unique, solvable and incremental initiatives and elements.”

Lt. Col. Wendell Sadler, Executive Officer, 19th Regiment, and a Tarleton State University professor, was the principal organizer of the exercise.  "The university and Tarleton President Dottavio have generously hosted this training for the past six years.  Their hospitality has allowed us to train in the skills that we will need for an emergency."

On the final day of training, soldiers from all units and the Tarleton ROTC cadets braved cold weather at Tarleton's War Memorial to witness the commissioning ceremony for 2nd Lts. Scott McKinlay, 2nd Regiment, and Stephen Wenzel, 19th Regiment. McKinlay had completed the  Texas State Guard Officer Candidate School and Wenzel graduated from Texas A&M University  ROTC program. 

"As a recent graduate of the Officer Candidate School, I had the privilege of receiving some of the best leadership training provided by the Texas State Guard,” said McKinlay. “It has helped prepare me for the challenges ahead, but I was just honored to share the graduation ceremony with my family and the soldiers of the 2nd Regiment, whose support made it possible."

Brig. Gen. Howard N. Palmer Jr., Commander of the Army Component Command, Texas State Guard, told the soldiers that this training event "was one of the best exercises that I have seen in the Texas State Guard."

Saturday, January 30, 2016 2:40:00 PM Categories: Texas State Guard

Texas ANG welcomes new commander, salutes outgoing commander 

Texas ANG welcomes new commander, salutes outgoing commander

Story by: 2nd Lt. Phil Fountain

Posted On: January 28, 2016

2nd Lt. Phil Fountain Brig. Gen. David M. McMinn (center), chief of staff of the Texas Air National Guard, prepares to receive the organization’s flag in a ceremony recognizing the change of command from Maj. Gen. Kenneth W. Wisian (left) to McMinn during a ceremony at Camp Mabry, in Austin, Texas, Jan. 23, 2016. Command Chief Master Sgt. Marlon Nation, the command chief master sergeant of the Texas Air National Guard, holds the flag prior to the change of command ceremony. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by 2nd Lt. Phil Fountain / Released)
2nd Lt. Phil Fountain
Brig. Gen. David M. McMinn (center), chief of staff of the Texas Air National Guard, prepares to receive the organization’s flag in a ceremony recognizing the change of command from Maj. Gen. Kenneth W. Wisian (left) to McMinn during a ceremony at Camp Mabry, in Austin, Texas, Jan. 23, 2016. Command Chief Master Sgt. Marlon Nation, the command chief master sergeant of the Texas Air National Guard, holds the flag prior to the change of command ceremony. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by 2nd Lt. Phil Fountain / Released)

AUSTIN, Texas – Members of the Texas Air National Guard gathered to welcome their new commander and salute their outgoing commander at Camp Mabry, in Austin, Texas, Jan. 23, 2016.

Maj. Gen. Kenneth W. Wisian ceremoniously relinquished command of the Texas Air National Guard to Brig. Gen. David M. McMinn, the organization’s chief of staff, immediately prior to his retirement.

“It’s a great time for Texas,” said Maj. Gen. John F. Nichols, the Adjutant General of Texas, who officiated the ceremonies. “We don’t need a change, but it’s a great thing to have a change and bring a new perspective in.”

McMinn brings three decades of experience to the role, according to his biography. He is a command pilot with more than 5,000 flight hours in numerous aircraft, including the C-130 Hercules assigned to the Texas Air National Guard’s 136th Airlift Wing, in Fort Worth.

“I charge you (McMinn) with taking care of the organization, taking care of those who serve Texas and the nation, as I do with everyone who’s in a command position,” Nichols said. “Ken did it honorably.” 

“We never failed Texas and we didn’t fail the nation in any of the missions we did,” Nichols said. “I charge you to continue that.”

McMinn was humbled to receive the appointment.

“Thank you, General Nichols,” McMinn said. “Thank you for the trust you put in me to take over this position, especially from him. Big shoes (to fill).”

In addition to the 136th Airlift Wing, the Texas Air National Guard’s largest operational units include the 147th Reconnaissance Wing, in Houston, and the 149th Fighter Wing, in San Antonio.

Moreover, the organization is made up of more than 3,200 airmen who operate and manage facilities and equipment valued in excess of $500 million to support state and federal missions.

The Texas ANG leadership transition began when Wisian announced his plan to retire from the military and join the staff of the Texas General Land Office, a Texas state agency, as a senior deputy director overseeing coastal protection and disaster recovery operations.

“I’ve known Dave a long, long time,” Wisian said. “I’m excited to pass the flag on to him. We’ve both came to the guard within about a year of each other, back in the ‘90s.”

“Dave’s the right person to take the helm now,” Wisian said. “I know you all will have fantastic future working with him, and I’m looking forward to it.”

Nichols and Wisian both discussed some the challenges McMinn will face as commander.

“We have a lot of challenges, with sequestration, as it is, and we have challenges with modernization,” Nichols said. “And we have challenges with force structure, having more missions than we have people to do it.”

But they expressed confidence in the future of the organization.

“It looks like there’s a significant corner turned,” Wisian said. “There’s good prospects now for some updated hardware, the Air Guard is being recognized by the Air Force – not nearly as well as it should be – but better than it has for a long time. Things are on an upward vector now.”

Wisian’s retirement caps off a 34-year career he began as a cadet in the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps program at the University of Texas at Austin.

Wisian served in the active duty Air Force for ten years before transitioning to the Texas Air National Guard, where he held leadership positions at all levels, including combat service in the Balkans, Afghanistan and Iraq.

In addition to serving as a traditional Air National Guardsman, McMinn maintains a civilian career as a commercial airline pilot. He has deployed in support of Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom, where he commanded at the group level.

“It’s a big trust, and I don’t take that lightly,” McMinn said of his assignment. “I look forward to providing as much of me as I possibly can for Texas.”

“From the time I joined the Texas Air National Guard, in 1992,” McMinn said, “from that moment, I always felt I owed the Texas Air Guard more than it could ever owe me. I still feel that today. I’m as charged up and excited about doing great things for the people of Texas, and for the people within the National Guard of Texas than I ever have been.”

As the new commander, McMinn said his plan is to ensure the focus of the headquarters staff remains oriented toward serving the needs of the air wings.

“I’m excited about being your commander, excited about being value-added, and am excited that our staff here serves the wings,” McMinn said. “We’re going to take care of you guys (at the wings), that’s our job.”

McMinn also looked to the future.

“We’re going to do good things, and we’re going to grow and prosper and learn from each other,” McMinn said.

“We’re all going to leave this position, whether through retirement or promotion, or just move on to your next assignment,” he said. “Hopefully, we’ll all be better airmen and better people for having served in the state headquarters. That’s my goal.”

Thursday, January 28, 2016 2:34:00 PM Categories: Texas Air National Guard

From slick sleeve to one star, Texas Air National Guard promotes first female general 

From slick sleeve to one star, Texas Air National Guard promotes first female general

Story by: 1st Lt. Alicia Lacy

Posted on: January 20, 2016

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott administers the oath of office to Brig. Gen. Dawn M. Ferrell during her promotion ceremony Jan. 15, 2016, in the Texas Capitol's Senate Chambers. Abbott appointed Ferrell as the Deputy Adjutant General - Air for the Texas Military Department's Texas Air National Guard. Ferrell is the first female to hold the rank of general officer in the TXANG. (Air National Guard photo by 1st Lt. Alicia Lacy/Released)
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott administers the oath of office to Brig. Gen. Dawn M. Ferrell during her promotion ceremony Jan. 15, 2016, in the Texas Capitol's Senate Chambers. Abbott appointed Ferrell as the Deputy Adjutant General - Air for the Texas Military Department's Texas Air National Guard. Ferrell is the first female to hold the rank of general officer in the TXANG. (Air National Guard photo by 1st Lt. Alicia Lacy/Released)

AUSTIN, Texas – In 1983, Dawn M. Ferrell enlisted in the Texas Air National Guard as a slick-sleeve airman basic.

Nearly 33 years later, now-Brig. Gen. Dawn M. Ferrell continues to serve the Texas Air National Guard and made history becoming its first female general officer.

To celebrate this milestone, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, Texas Military Department senior leaders and Ferrell’s family and friends attended her promotion ceremony Jan. 15, in the Texas Capitol’s Senate Chambers, with Abbott administering her oath of office.

“I’m humbled and I’m proud to have been chosen for this position, and I recognize that this is an important step for the Texas Air National Guard,” Ferrell said. “I honestly didn’t realized that there hadn’t been a female before, but I think it’s just another way of showing everybody that anybody can do anything in the Air Force.”

Abbott appointed Ferrell the Texas Military Department’s Deputy Adjutant General-Air in November 2015.

“Dawn Ferrell has earned the promotion she is being recognized for today,” Abbott said. “Texas is about advancement and in Texas, we believe you can achieve anything if you work hard and strive with ambition to achieve great things. Dawn Ferrell is the newest and greatest example of what we believe in Texas.”

Thinking back to the beginning of her career, Ferrell remembers only wanting to serve her initial commitment in the guard and later planned to pursue a college degree. However, once in the TXANG, Ferrell said she loved being in the military and a member of the guard, whose unique part-time structure allowed her to do both.

“I was just going to do my initial six-year enlistment,” Ferrell said. “I wanted to go to college and see what happens. I never thought that 32 and a half years later I’d still be here.”

Ferrell was able to pursue her education, earning a bachelor of arts, master of arts, and doctorate of philosophy degrees, as well as a successful civilian career in higher education while progressing through the ranks of the TXANG.

“I absolutely loved being in the military and being a part of the guard and the great thing about being in the guard is you get to experience both,” she said.

Ferrell has grown in her career at the 136th Airlift Wing from an aerial port specialist to an aerial port officer and group commander.

“No matter what the barrier is – perceived or not – you go around or you go over, but you don’t stop,” she said. 

Ferrell attributes her success to her will to succeed and never quit, regardless of the obstacle. That same attitude has taken her to serve in positions such as director of plans and logistics operations at International Security Assistance Force headquarters Afghanistan and to coordinating response efforts during Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in New Orleans and Houston.

And now as deputy adjutant general, she plans to ensure the TXANG is always ready to serve, whether it’s a federal or state mission, as well as seek new missions for the state. 

“Be ready for whatever opportunities come your way,” she said. “There may be different paths to get there, so do things you need to do to be prepared so that when opportunities come along, you won’t miss it.”

Wednesday, January 20, 2016 2:37:00 PM Categories: Texas Air National Guard

State Public Affairs 2nd Annual Media Competition 

 Texas Military Forces State Public Affairs Office held its 2nd annual media competition highlighting Public Affairs work done by guardsmen throughout Texas at Camp Mabry, Jan. 10, 2016Commentary by Michelle McBride
Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Malcolm McClendon

The Texas Military Forces State Public Affairs Office held its 2nd annual media competition highlighting Public Affairs work done by guardsmen throughout Texas at Camp Mabry, Jan. 10, 2016.

“I have been in Public Affairs with the Texas Military Department for 24 years,” said Col. Steven Metze, State Public Affairs Officer, “and this is only the second year that we’ve come together to recognize the outstanding work that our Public Affairs service members are doing. This is really great.”

This year’s award recipients are as follows:

Motivational Video: 1st Place - 100th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

Feature Broadcast Journalism: 1st Place - 1st Sgt. Daniel Griego, JTF 136th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade and 100th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment; 2nd Place - Spc. Zachary Polka, 100th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

News Broadcast: 1st Place - Staff Sgt. Jennifer Atkinson, JTF 136th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade; 2nd Place - Staff Sgt. Mindy Bloem, 149th Fighter Wing

Video Information Program: 1st Place - Sgt. 1st Class Malcolm McClendon, Joint Force Headquarters

Commentary: 1st Place - Cpt. Martha Nigrelle, Joint Force Headquarters; 2nd Place - Ms. Michelle McBride, Joint Force Headquarters

Feature Story – Journalism: 1st Place - Sgt 1st Class Malcolm McClendon, Joint Force Headquarters ; 2nd Place - 2nd Lt. Phil Fountain, 149th Fighter Wing; 3rd Place - Sgt. Michael Giles, 100th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

News Story – Journalism:  1st Place - 1st Sgt. Daniel Griego, JTF 136th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade and 100th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment; 2nd Place - Spc. Christina Clardy, 36th Infantry Division

Rising Star Journalist of the Year: Sgt. Elizabeth Pena, JTF 136th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade

Journalist of the Year: Staff Sgt. Jennifer Atkinson, JTF 136th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade

Photojournalism:  1st Place - 1st Sgt. Daniel Griego, JTF 136th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade and 100th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

Sports Photo: 1st Place - Sgt. Praxedis Pineda, 100th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

Portrait Photo: 1st Place - 1st Lt. Alicia Lacy, 147th Reconnaissance Wing; 2nd Place - Tech Sgt. Eric Wilson, 149th Fighter Wing

News Photo: 1st Place Tie - Sgt 1st Class Malcolm McClendon, Joint Force Headquarters and 1st Lt. Alicia Lacy, 147th Reconnaissance Wing

Feature Photo: 1st Place - Tech Sgt. Eric Wilson, 149th Fighter Wing ; 2nd Place - Staff Sgt. Mark Scovell, 100th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment ; 3rd Place - Sgt. Praxedis Pineda, 100th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

Outstanding Communications Campaign: 1st Place - Joint Task Force 136th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade Public Affairs Office

Digital Presence:  1st Place - Joint Task Force 136th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade Public Affairs Office

Special Contribution to the Public Affairs Field by a Non Public Affairs member: Sgt. Jacob Gately, Texas State Guard Joint Force Headquarters

Public Affairs Leader of the Year: Cpt. Maria Mengrone, 176th Engineer Brigade

Lifetime Achievement: Master Sgt. Kenneth Walker, Joint Force Headquarters

Congratulations to all of the winners, we look forward to next year’s entries. To view more photos of the award ceremony, please visit https://www.flickr.com/photos/texasmilitaryforces/albums/72157661133899084

 

Wednesday, January 13, 2016 12:30:00 PM Categories: Blog

Cooperative Competition 

Cooperative Competition

Story by: Sgt. Michael Vanpool

Posted on: January 12, 2016

Staff Sgt. Timothy Boutte, the senior mechanic for Company D, 949th Brigade Support Battalion, 56th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 36th Infantry Division, Texas Army National Guard, pushes through prone rows while Command Sgt. Maj. Michelle Thompson, the battalion's command sergeant major, motivates him to complete the air assault course at Camp Swift, Jan. 8. The course was one of eight events that were part of the 56th Infantry Brigade Combat Team’s Best Warrior Competition. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Michael Vanpool/Released)
Staff Sgt. Timothy Boutte, the senior mechanic for Company D, 949th Brigade Support Battalion, 56th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 36th Infantry Division, Texas Army National Guard, pushes through prone rows while Command Sgt. Maj. Michelle Thompson, the battalion's command sergeant major, motivates him to complete the air assault course at Camp Swift, Jan. 8. The course was one of eight events that were part of the 56th Infantry Brigade Combat Team’s Best Warrior Competition. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Michael Vanpool/Released)

BASTROP, Texas - “You can do it!” “Just one more left!” “Woo who, you’re almost there!”

Those aren’t exactly words exchanged between people competing for the same title. But it is what a group of Soldiers were saying to each other this past weekend.

Seven Soldiers of the 56th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 36th Infantry Division, Texas Army National Guard, competed in the brigade’s Best Warrior Competition at Camp Swift, Jan. 8-10.

Ultimately, one noncommissioned officer and one junior enlisted Soldier bested out their comrades to achieve the title of Best Warrior. The winners were Staff Sgt. Jake Jackson, the supply sergeant for Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 3rd Battalion, 144th Infantry Regiment, and Spec. Russell Bega, an infantryman with Company D, 2nd Battalion, 142 Infantry Regiment. They each now have the chance to enter the Texas National Guard Best Warrior Competition. 

“You’ve got to train, not just your body but get mentally prepared,” Bega said. “Whether it’s the board or a 60-foot obstacle tower, you have to be confident in yourself to get past it and that you have the mental fortitude to succeed.”

The road to the title was no cake walk. Combining the ruck march, two runs through a land navigation course, and the air assault course, the competitors pounded their boots on the ground for more than 20 miles throughout a span of 36 hours.

The weekend was also sprinkled with an appearance board, a written essay, and the assembly and disassembly of five military-grade weapons.

“All of this represents tasks that we should all know,” Jackson said. “Whatever your skill set, you should be professional and try your best.”

The down time between events was minimal, but it was not a time for rest. After Soldiers worked through their individual events, they motivated each other to push themselves to their boiling point.

“We want everyone to do their best and to beat each other at their best,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Clinton Petty, the brigade’s acting command sergeant major. “There’s no glory in beating someone on their worst day. There’s more satisfaction in beating them on their best day.”

The competitors were selected from their battalions about two months prior to the brigade’s competition. In between the battalion and brigade competitions, the traditional feasts during the holidays could have prevented a solid physical state.

“I prepared with a lot of PT, a lot of studying,” Jackson said, “which was hard with all the food around during the Christmas break.”

Being citizens Soldiers, most of the preparation took place during the time between drills, and it was often the sole responsibility of each competitor to find their own motivation.

“No matter what as long as I did everything in my power and the confidence in myself I could get it done,” Bega said. “There were times on the land navigation] course where I got tangled up and frustrated. But you take a second, time to breathe, you find out you’re capable of more than you think.”

This internal motivation, boosted by the cheering of fellow Soldiers, pushed the competitors to their physical and mental limits.

“I really think that being a part of something bigger, not just the 56th Brigade, but we’re all a part of the Texas Guard, we’re all a part of the Army.”

Tuesday, January 12, 2016 2:39:00 PM Categories: Texas Army National Guard

Guard leaders attend new cyber course 

Guard leaders attend new cyber course

Story by: Staff Sgt. Mindy Bloem

Posted on: January 11, 2016

149th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

Brig. Gen. David McMinn, Texas Air National Guard commander, talks to Col. Michael Lovell, Air National Guard advisor to the 25th Air Force, while attending a newly implemented cyber course Dec. 10 in San Antonio. The course, which was the first of its kind, spanned four days and familiarized National Guard senior leaders with the threats and resources available in the cyber realm.
Brig. Gen. David McMinn, Texas Air National Guard commander, talks to Col. Michael Lovell, Air National Guard advisor to the 25th Air Force, while attending a newly implemented cyber course Dec. 10 in San Antonio. The course, which was the first of its kind, spanned four days and familiarized National Guard senior leaders with the threats and resources available in the cyber realm. 

SAN ANTONIO,Texas -- National Guard leaders attended a four-day cyber security familiarization course Dec. 7-10 in San Antonio.  The class was the first of its kind for the Air National Guard that previously had no cyber security training for its senior leaders or commanders not assigned to cyber career fields.

The training course relies on seasoned professionals with extensive information security experience from the Center for Infrastructure Assurance and Security at the University of Texas at San Antonio.   The course outlines various cyber threats and educates leaders on the resources available to neutralize those threats.

For Brig. Gen. David McMinn, commander of the Texas Air National Guard, this course came at just the right time.

"Everybody agrees that the next big Pearl Harbor for us will be in the cyber realm," McMinn said. "We need to be adept in this realm. This course is helping senior leaders assess capabilities of not only our adversaries but also those of our own cyber forces."

The National Guard Bureau also announced the placement of multiple cyber protection teams across the nation during the same week senior leaders were attending the course - aligning the teams with FEMA management regions - yet another indicator that the Department of Defense aims to increase cyber preparedness. Texas was one of the four states assigned with Air National Guard cyber teams.

During the training, senior leaders spent some time at the 273rd Information Operations Squadron, an Air National Guard unit with a reputation for being cyber savvy. Walking into an environment of experts in a field where many are still beginners, could feel intimidating, but Maj. Kristy Leasman, commander of the 273rd IOS, aims to dispel those feelings.

"I want to take the mystery out of cyber for them," Leasman said. "The course builds a significant foundation, and the big lesson at the end of the week is that cyber is not special. It's just operations.  Senior leaders should approach cyber operations the same way they approach any other operational task. This course just helps with the language translation."

According to McMinn, deciphering that language is crucial.

"We started this course in Texas because we identified a huge need for our National Guard leaders -- both Army and Air -- to learn what's going on in the cyber realm, and to be able get this training in San Antonio, a center for cyber excellence -- to run portions of the course right here at the 24th and 25th Air Force -- makes us the ideal location to be trained up on these amazing capabilities." McMinn said.

Because the dangers of the cyber domain are different than those of the physical domain, McMinn believes the action must fit the danger.

"Any other threat you see coming -- the warning signs. You can see, 'hey, they just launched a missile,' but cyber attacks have no warning signs except for readiness, aptitude and the skills of those in the intel and cyber fields that see those things coming and protect us," he said.

During one of his lunch breaks, McMinn engaged in a conversation with some of his peers about how this class has helped them better understand the old adage of an ounce of prevention being weightier than a pound of cure.

"I had an idea about how big the problem was but after attending this course and learning what the full-scale threat is, I'm very much alarmed," McMinn said.  But this training has taught me how to protect my family and myself, how to protect an organization, and what our forces are doing to prevent those cyber threats.

But concern wasn't the only thing on the Texas leader's mind. Visiting with the cyber operatives bolstered his confidence.

"Not only am I more alarmed, but I also feel more secure in knowing what our amazing people our doing to protect us," McMinn said. "We can't always see what's going on behind the curtain, but there is a lot going on behind that curtain."

Monday, January 11, 2016 2:42:00 PM Categories: Texas Air National Guard

USARCENT, National Guard, Reserves talk Total Force in Kuwait 

USARCENT, National Guard, Reserves talk Total Force in Kuwait

Courtesy Story: Sgt. David Beckstrom

Posted on: January 4, 2016

Sgt. David Beckstrom The adjutant generals of the Utah, Texas, Puerto Rico and Alabama National Guard, along with general officers from the U.S. Army Reserve, took part in a four-day conference to better see how their Soldiers and Airmen support U.S. Army Central’s mission in Southwest Asia, Dec. 10-13. The Total Force concept was a major topic of discussion and focuses on the partnership between the active duty, National Guard and Reserve components as they work hand-in-hand to ensure the security and safety of people around the world and build enduring partnerships. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. David N. Beckstrom, 19th Public Affairs Detachment, U.S. Army Central)
Courtesy Photo:Sgt. David Beckstrom
The adjutant generals of the Utah, Texas, Puerto Rico and Alabama National Guard, along with general officers from the U.S. Army Reserve, took part in a four-day conference to better see how their Soldiers and Airmen support U.S. Army Central’s mission in Southwest Asia, Dec. 10-13. The Total Force concept was a major topic of discussion and focuses on the partnership between the active duty, National Guard and Reserve components as they work hand-in-hand to ensure the security and safety of people around the world and build enduring partnerships. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. David N. Beckstrom, 19th Public Affairs Detachment, U.S. Army Central)

CAMP ARIFJAN, Kuwait – The Adjutant Generals of the Alabama, Puerto Rico, Texas and Utah National Guard and general officers from the U.S. Army Reserve, took part in a four-day conference here, Dec. 10-13 to gain insight on how their Soldiers and Airmen support U.S. Army Central’s mission in Southwest Asia.

A major focus of the event was the Army’s Total Force concept, which aligns the active duty, National Guard and Reserve components of the Army as one force to ensure readiness and resource efficiency.

“The military expects the reserve components to maintain the same standard as the active duty component,” said Air Force Maj. Gen. John Nichols, the Adjutant General of the Texas National Guard based out of Austin, Texas. “We accomplish this by partnering with the active duty components in Texas for training and mentorship. This allows us to remain proficient in our assigned roles and ready to serve our nation when the call comes.”

During the visit, the generals interacted closely with their Soldiers. They were able to see what they do on a daily basis and what contributions the National Guard and U.S. Army Reserve make to USARCENT.

“Since the first Minuteman left their plows, picked up their rifles and moved to the sound of guns more than 379 years ago, National Guardsmen have been fighting our nation’s wars and defending the homeland,” said Maj. Gen. Jefferson Burton, the adjutant general of the Utah National Guard based out of Draper, Utah. “These Soldiers serving in Kuwait represent America’s finest. They are our ambassadors. They are smart, talented, and passionate about what they do. They are volunteers who serve to make the world a more secure place.” 

“We work to align the needs and efforts of the Army’s mission around the world with the training of our units,” said Brig. Gen. James Blankenhorn, the Deputy Commanding General of the Reserve Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Forces stationed out of Salt Lake City, Utah. “We ensure the service members understand the importance of their missions and that they are fully manned, equipped and trained to accomplish it.”

Service members work together in an inter-department setting to accomplish their missions both in the U.S. and around the world with partner nation forces.

“Since our nation’s inception, citizen Soldiers have been an integral part of our national defense,” said Burton, a native of Payson, Utah. “Nowhere is that more evident than what’s happening in Kuwait today. Soldiers from every component, Active, Guard and Reserve, are training to the same standard, and serve side-by-side with our international partners to make our world more secure.”

These general officers came to Kuwait to ensure their Soldiers are accomplishing their mission and that they are meeting the standard. This will facilitate potential policy changes to train, equip and prepare Soldiers for future missions.

“Being proficient in our job as a reserve unit allows us to augment and support the Army by deploying and assisting other units that might need our help,” said Sgt. Erika Sledge, a squad leader with 366th CBRN Company out of Savannah, Georgia. “Everybody in the military have different jobs and missions, but when we work together we can achieve great things.”

Service members in the National Guard and Reserve components serve the nation by being citizen Soldiers, this means that they are entrepreneurs, construction workers or civil workers while still serving in the U.S. military.

“I have spoken to several service members from the Reserve component,” said Blankenhorn, a native on Atlanta, Georgia. “They are all saying the same thing, ‘we are learning great things while we are out here.’ This shows the dedication and commitment each of these Soldiers have to their nation, community and families. We will continue to train our Reservists to be ready to mobilize should the need arise.”

“Like many other cities across the nation, the impact of war touches the entire community,” said Burton. “The National Guard is the connective fabric to our communities, and that connection has proven vital to maintaining the nations will in confronting these global challenges.”

Monday, January 4, 2016 2:46:00 PM Categories: Texas Army National Guard